THERE are calls for the empty Morrisons unit at Regent Circus to return as a supermarket.

With independent businesses and exciting new chains taking up residence next door, there appears to be a resurgence at the town centre retail and entertainment complex that not so long ago appeared to have a bleak future.

But its biggest challenge remains heading into 2022 – filling the space filled by Morrisons until it shut up shop just over two years ago.

With no immediate solution on the horizon, we asked Adver readers what they would like to see replace Morrisons.

And many people were in favour of keeping the status quo because of its convenience for people who live in and around the town centre and are unable to drive – whether that meant it reopened as a Morrisons, or was taken over by another chain like Sainsbury’s or Aldi.

Sue Hurley said: “They should never have closed this shop. It was perfect for all.”
Joanne Reeves added: “Any food store. 

"Lots of people who don’t drive and elderly that need a supermarket in town.”

Others wanted a redevelopment similar to the Boom Battle Bar which brought axe throwing and other games to Regent Circus last year – moving away from retail and towards leisure and entertainment. 

Suggestions along those lines included a bowling alley with pool tables like the Tenpin at Shaw Ridge, an entertainment centre similar to the new Gravity venue in London’s Southside, a big children’s softplay, a rollerdisco or an arcade. 

Sarah Skinner said : “A Superbowl like West Swindon – bowling and pool etc.

Richard Toomey wanted to see something bigger: “An entertainment centre, kinda like Gravity, the one in London or a little shopping outlet – at least give it some use of it.”

Some outside-of-the-box suggestions included a hub for all banks, indoor clay pigeon shooting and a casino.

But there does not appear to be a quick fix because Morrisons is said by the councillor formerly responsible for the town centre to have 12 years left on the lease for the property – which sees the supermarket giant pay £1 million a year to landlord Aberdeen Standard.

After a number of empty units were filled with new businesses like Boom Battle Bar and restaurants Funky Grilla and Dough and Co, the former cabinet member for the town centre councillor Dale Heenan wrote to Morrisons in October to encourage it to give up the lease. 

In the letter to Morrisons chief executive David Potts he wrote: “The fear of many is that this building will remain empty and potentially blight the area for decades to come.

“If no break clause is available, please find a way for Morrisons to surrender the lease or work with other businesses and the community and sublet; if not to reduce the company’s costs and liabilities, then at least to bring the empty building back into use for the good of the town.”

A spokesperson for the Morrisons told the Adver the company was unable to provide a response.