Town ‘bucking the trend of falling footfall’ - Harpur Centre
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Town ‘bucking the trend of falling footfall’


A town is “bucking the trend of falling footfall” on its High Street, a council has said.

Bedford Borough Council said a four-year programme to spend £1.7m improving six shop fronts and having new paving installed has “brought fresh optimism” to the town.

Tony Le-Britton expanded his Northampton plant business, Not Another Jungle, by opening a store on Silver Street, Bedford, on 6 April in a building that had its outside renovated.

“I would not have taken the premises if it didn’t have that shopfront,” he said.

Tony Le-Britton standing in his shopImage source, Alex Pope/BBC
Image caption,

Tony Le-Britton said he was drawn to Bedford by the “buzz and vibe” he felt when he visited

Mr Le-Britton said he became aware of Bedford as a business opportunity only when it was recommended by friends, and he “came to the High Street and saw the shop and thought how beautiful it was and how lovely the renovated square in front is”.

“We’ve already spoken to hundreds of customers and the majority are being warm and positive about the future of the town,” he said.

“In our first week of trading we almost doubled what Northampton took in its first week. Footfall was absolutely fantastic.”

A council spokesman said: “Footfall on Bedford High Street has risen from approximately 200,000 in January 2020 to 265,000 in January 2024 – an increase of 32.5%, and bucking the trend of falling footfall in High Streets nationally.”

The recently completed Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSAZ) Programme saw six buildings repaired and restored, Bedford Corn Exchange upgraded to a Grade II listed building and the Shire Hall upgraded to Grade II*.

“Most importantly, it has also brought fresh optimism to the High Street by both celebrating our heritage and investing in our future,” the spokesman said.

People walking on Bedford High StreetImage source, Alex Pope/BBC
Image caption,

The Salvation Army building was one of the properties renovated on Bedford High Street

In December, the council said it planned to buy the former Debenhams store, which has been empty since 2021, to “futureproof” the area for years to come.