Booming Biggleswade bucking national town centre decline, says mayor
PUBLISHED: 06:56 30 August 2018
Danny Loo Photography 2017
Biggleswade town centre is bucking the national high street decline - that's according to the mayor, after the opening of eight new shops and eateries since the start of the year.
As many town centres suffer, the heart of Biggleswade has had its own tough times amid the closure of the railway bridge and the arrival of the A1 Retail Park.
But the diversity and quirkiness of the town centre is helping it bounce back – with only about half a dozen empty units in the town centre, a major fall compared to previous years.
The new businesses include an art shop, a gym, a fish and chip shop, a Caribbean takeaway, a lounge bar, a cocktail bar, an independent Italian restaurant and a vaping shop.
Also on the way are a chocolate shop and a Turkish restaurant.
Some of the units have been empty for several years and have been completely transformed by the new operators.
Biggleswade mayor Councillor Michael North told the Comet: “It is good to see new businesses attracting people into the town. We hope this will bring in yet more new businesses to keep the town busy and an attractive place to go for residents and visitors.
“The town centre now boasts a great range of pubs, bars, restaurants, take aways, shops and other outlets – the Saturday market is also doing a strong trade.
“It’s really exciting to see the town centre moving in a direction that defies the national trend.”
Central Beds councillor Steve Watkins, who also represents Stratton ward on Biggleswade Town Council, agreed with the mayor.
He said: “It is great to see Biggleswade confidently adapt to national changes in town centres, which move away from being predominantly retail-based to become leisure and recreational hubs.
“We need to ensure we have links to the retail park so residents can benefit from everything our town has to offer.
“There is a vibrancy to our town centre that everyone who cares about Biggleswade will be thrilled to see.”
The only newly-vacant site is the former Pembroke Arms pub in Hitchin Street – previously called The Brown Bear – which closed this summer.
The town council is set to employ a new full-time town centre operations manager to help ensure the space remains well looked after.