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Bedford Town Centre Bucks National Trend with Further Fall in Vacant Shop Space

June 25, 2014 5:49 PM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough
Bedford Town Centre

An aerial view of Bedford Town Centre

New figures show that Bedford town centre's shop vacancy rate continues to fall, bucking the national trend and outstripping neighbouring towns.

The figures, released by Experian, show Bedford town centre's empty floorspace rate has fallen from 10.7% in 2013 to 9.2% this year, well below the national average of 10.6 %, which saw a slight increase over the same period. Bedford's empty shop vacancy rate is also considerably lower than those of neighbouring town centres such as Luton, Milton Keynes and Northampton.

The challenging economic conditions over recent years have combined with trends towards out-of-town and internet shopping to cause a crisis for the UK high Street, but Bedford remains below the national average for town centre store closures; highlighting that Bedford has bucked the trend.

The figures confirm that Bedford also outperforms the national average for the number of individual vacant shop units, which again are far higher in neighbouring towns including Luton, Milton Keynes and Northampton.

Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: "The falling shop vacancy rate is very encouraging, and really stands out against the increasing vacancies seen elsewhere. There is much more to do, and it is vital the Council continues to work with everyone who cares about Bedford Town Centre to make it an even more attractive and enjoyable place to visit for shopping and leisure.'

"The fact that Bedford town centre is seeing year on year falls in the shop vacancy rate shows that people locally really do value their town centre and its traders. The brand new bus station, the re-developed Higgins Bedford and the return of town centre cinema will also combine to make Bedford Town Centre an even more attractive destination in its own right."

Measures to boost town centre trade include an array of free public events run by the Council and others, while major redevelopment is also taking place. The £6 million cultural attraction The Higgins Bedford opened a year ago, the redevelopment of Bedford Bus Station is at an advanced stage, and town centre cinema is set to return to Bedford as part of a riverside development featuring new restaurants and public squares by the river.