We asked people one thing they would change about Swansea - it was pretty unanimous

The old Debenhams store at the Quadrant Shopping Centre in Swansea city centre
The old Debenhams store at the Quadrant Shopping Centre in Swansea city centre -Credit:WalesOnline/Rob Browne

Swansea city centre has certainly seen its fair share of changes over the past few years. Like most cities and towns across Wales and indeed the UK, Swansea is still trying to navigate its way back to former glories since the end of the Covid pandemic and its associated lockdowns which preceded the collapse of a number of high street retail chains.

While many shops have closed over the past few years, there are a number of exciting developments happening across the city, including plans to convert a former department store into an arts centre and the construction of a huge new building in Oxford Street. Furthermore, the council’s investment in the city centre was recently celebrated by one cabinet member who said: “What we have shown is that we are now actually building buildings - that Swansea is a city that if they say they are going to do something, they do it.” You can get the latest Swansea news e-mailed to you directly for free by signing up here.

But after reporting on the latest big investment in the city centre we asked what the number one priority for change in Swansea is for the people who live there. Here is what you told us

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More shops

A lot of people said the same thing - they wanted more shops on the high street. In particular, many wanted to see the former Debenhams store - which closed in 2021 - put to good use to draw more people into the city. Terry Williams said: “Bring our shops back. The town is bare. Everyone goes to Cardiff.”

Mark Goodbody said: “I may be wrong, but the indoor market seems to be thriving at the moment, from what I witness at the weekends anyway, so why not, expand it? Maybe utilise the Debenhams building, move the restaurants from the market into that building allowing more space in the market for other traders? The Debenhams building could then essentially have late-night eating, and then the odd local brewery.”

Richard Jones agreed that a priority should be to “do something with Debenhams site”, a point shared by Craig Collins who posted: “Take the empty Debenhams and give people a reason to go to the quadrant by making a two-storey food court like they have in St David’s in Cardiff. Then people will have more reason to go there and footfall will increase.” Support award-winning journalism with WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android

Jayne Dendle thought the former Debenhams site would be perfect for an indoor skating rink, while Ian James expanded by saying there was more to be done than just filling the former retail giant’s old unit. He said: “Get potholes sorted, get a new high quality anchor tenant for the old Debenhams store, sort the arena car park and lifts, get the hotel built, improve public transport, especially in the evenings, sort the scaffolding out and tidy up Wind Street.”

Business rates and parking.... and Debenhams again

Sandra Harris said Swansea should move away from relying on high street chain brands, posting: “We need small independent shops, quirky shops, boutiques. Not so many chain stores. Business rates need to be reduced to encourage small businesses.” Kenneth Morris agreed, writing: “Lower the business rates so that local people can open small businesses. Perhaps then we can get rid of the proliferation of barbers and vape shops.

Les Hiatt and Amanda Austin both said the council should offer more free parking spaces in the city in order to entice shoppers, while Rhiannon Chaffer was another person to bring up the future of the former Debenhams store. She said: “Use the Debenhams store as they have with the old M&S in Broadmead, Bristol, enabling an independent traders’ co-operative to manage the building and open stalls under the name of Sparks. It’s such a great place and a win-win idea, instead of buildings being sat empty and small, independent traders missing out on an obvious opportunity.”

Vince Terrace was slightly more defeatist, however, when he wrote: “Put everything in a time machine and go back 20 years.”