Holes knocked into the rear wall of part of the Brunel Shopping Centre are just a normal part of the stripping out of the building, the company which owns the centre has said.

Behind the part of the centre that fronts onto Wharf Green, some very carefully-made square holes have been knocked in the brickwork, and a bright yellow construction vehicle is parked shielded from the public by barriers.

Shoppers were left confused by the work, contacting the Adver to ask what was going on.

A spokesman for the centre, which is owned by FI Real Estate Management, said the work has been ongoing for several months and is part of the company’s redevelopment of that part of the centre.

Swindon Advertiser: Work at the Brunel CentreWork at the Brunel Centre (Image: Dave Cox)

He added: “The photos show access points that were created into the former House of Fraser store some 18 months ago for the ongoing strip-out of the building, to create a safe compound for workers and avoid the need to encroach on public spaces.

“In the interest of safety for all, these areas are out of bounds to the public and clearly fenced off while the work continues.”

The work has seen that part of the centre cleared of nearly all the shops, some of which were relocated, and there are signs for shoppers entering from the car park on that side of the centre to keep going to the rest of the centre where there are still many shops and food outlets thriving.

When the retailers had been relocated and work started on the fabric of the building FI Real Estate Management, said: “The images show remediation works that are routinely undertaken after properties have been vacated to ready them for their next use.”

What that next use might be, if it’s not simply moving retailers back when the work has finished, might have a significant impact on Swindon’s skyline.

Swindon Advertiser: Work at the Brunel CentreWork at the Brunel Centre (Image: Dave Cox)

In October 2019, FIREM put in plans to Swindon Borough Council to build two towers on part of the centre.

One would have 20 storeys and the other 24, with 300 flats between them as well as rooftop gardens, restaurants, bar and shops.

And a year ago, after two years where little progress was seen, the company reiterated its commitment to the proposal and said: “We have been working closely with the council following the submission of our application and are now in the process of formalising the Section 106 agreement in relation to the proposed development.”

The development would see the unit used by the House of Fraser outlet and the car parking spiral ramp demolished to allow for the new park.