Independents put Shefford on top

Shefford has come second in a nationwide survey of Britain’s top small and medium-sized towns to live in – only beaten to the top spot by its near neighbour Ampthill.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 31st May 2019, 1:02 pm

Estate agency Hamptons International undertook a report for The Daily Telegraph.

It analysed all of Britain’s small and medium-sized towns (those with a population of between 10,000 and 27,000), identifying those with the most independent shops and house price growth of over 30 per cent since the 2007 peak, which the Telegraph says are markers indicating the level of demand to live there.

According to the research, Ampthill and Shefford have the highest proportion of independently-run businesses on their High Streets at 71 per cent.

The news came as no surprise to some current and former residents.

Helen Jones said: “[I] enjoyed my time living in Shefford very much. Only drawback is that it’s missing a train station. Great pubs and a lovely feel to the town. Used to live above the library and immensely enjoyed sitting out on the balcony of a weekend evening overlooking the beer gardens!”

And Mary Haggerton said: “WOW....I have walked those streets SO MANY TIMES.. Born just 1 mile up the road in Campton.Thats AWESOME.”

Central Bedfordshire Council’s £1million of High Street Improvement Scheme grants were given to 21 shops and businesses across seven towns, including Ampthill and Shefford.

In Shefford, recipients of the council’s £73,000 worth of shop front grants last year included The White Hart Inn, a dental practice, and the Paper Shop newsagents.

The Grade II listed White Hart had become rundown and had been closed for three years. The refurb included windows, doors, lights, signs, roof and full decoration of the front and side and it reopened to customers ahead of Christmas 2018.

Councillor Kevin Collins, Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “We are committed to investing in our market towns, so we are delighted that two of our market towns have come out top in this national report.

“As a council, we’ve helped to ensure the long-term economic success of town centres by giving them funding at a time of increasing pressures on High Streets across Britain. It’s vital to support our town centres, as they are at the very heart of the community.

“So, over the last few years, we’ve been investing £4million into a Market Town Regeneration Fund. This included £1million of grants to landlords and independent businesses to renovate their shop fronts and make improvements to vacant premises, in order to attract more shoppers and visitors back into our local High Streets. By making town centres more attractive, it can boost the vibrancy of the area. And of course, flourishing local businesses lead to local jobs.”

And it wasn’t just Shefford who had some good news. Henlow was voted the most underrated holiday destination in the UK by this week.

A spokesman said: “If you’re looking for a quiet weekend break away from the hustle and bustle of many towns, Henlow could be perfect for you. This peaceful village is best known as the home of RAF Henlow, but it also attracts many visitors each year due to the nearby Champneys spa. Tourists also love the village’s popular pubs and its delightful green spaces.”

Other destinations that made the top ten include Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire and Baslow in the Peak District.