AMBITIOUS new plans have been revealed that could see part of the town centre transformed into a European-style plaza.

The bid would see a run of bars and cafes run along Canal Walk, the aim being to create a vibrant strip that would keep the area busy outside of shopping hours.

Brunel Shopping Centre owner FI Real Estate Management is behind the scheme.

It says: “It is intended that the proposals will help support the evening economy and provide a new lease of life to the activity on Canal Walk.”

While Swindon Borough Council’s planners still have to decide on whether to approve the scheme, the authority’s cabinet member for the town centre Dale Heenan applauded the idea.

He said: “Ten years ago online shopping was non-existent, and the iPad hadn’t even been released.

"Today roughly £1 in every £5 spent by residents is using websites.

"A month doesn’t go by without a major chain having problems because they cannot respond as a business.

"Shopping centres also need to move with the times too, and the owners of the Brunel recognise, and understand the problem.

"The town centre is often very busy with hundreds of people walking around, whether it's Wednesday 2pm or Saturday 11am. The Brunel is the focus of Swindon Town centre and it has a very bright future.

The Adver asked one shopper what he thought of the plan.

Walid Badir said: “It’s a good idea, but I’m not sure it’s in the best place.

“It feels out of the way down this end of Canal Walk. If it was further along, the other side of the Crossing it might be better.

“It depends on who they get to come as well. I hope it works though.”

A spokesman for FI Real Estate Management said the scheme was intended complement The Crossing foodcourt in the walkway across Canal Walk.

“Whilst this current planning application is a renewal to the original one, our investment in The Crossing demonstrates the healthy demand for food and beverage and it is proving to be a huge success," the firm said.

“Swindon has a growing independent retail landscape that we are supporting at The Brunel. We are in the final stages of creating exciting plans for the centre and hope to be unveiling our proposals to the public next month.”