Biggleswade town centre is on the up.
That’s the message from the town council after a number of new businesses have opened their doors.
And the council is on target to appoint a Town Centre Manager in the next few weeks.
Cllr Mark Foster, chairman of the Town Centre Management Committee said: “We’re delighted by the direction the town centre is going in. We recognise that life on the High Street is not easy anywhere these days, but to see Biggleswade buck the national trend is great news.
“With the new businesses we now have a broad range of shops, restaurants, pubs, bars, takeaways and other outlets which residents can come and enjoy.
“For councillors any decision around the town centre is always tricky because we know how valued it is - but whilst some talk it down, it’s very refreshing to see it has the support of the vast majority of our residents - long may it continue!”
Since the start of the year, the town centre has seen eight new shops open and two more are on the way. The new businesses include an art shop, a gym, a fish & chip shop, a Caribbean takeaway, an up market lounge bar, a cocktail bar, an independent Italian restaurant and a vape shop. The two on the way include a shop selling chocolate and a Turkish restaurant.
Some of the shops have taken over units which have been empty for several years and now have been completely transformed.
The transformed buildings range from old and tired units, to a former Morrison’s store stretching the full length of the High Street from St Andrew’s Church to London Road. In the same period, only one unit stands empty when it wasn’t before - a pub on Hitchin Street.
This leaves around six empty units in the town centre - far fewer than most other towns the size of Biggleswade and a real imporvement compared to previous years.
Cllr Ian Bond, who takes a particular interest in Town Planning, said: “Town centres everywhere are having to adapt to the changing face of retail and Biggleswade is no exception to that. Recent years have been hard with the closure of the bridge and the added competition of the retail park - life is still tough for people whose livelihoods depend on the success of the High Street.
“But to see more businesses starting up is a real vote of confidence in the future of the town centre.”
The town’s market is also doing well. The past few months has seen an increase in stalls and there has also beena quarterly teenage market and Flavours of the World Market.
The Town Council is also recruiting a Town Centre Operations Manager, who will be responsible for managing and improving the markets, implementing an A-Board licensing scheme and managing the Town Council’s car parks, including maintenance, charging and dealing with the Central Bedfordshire Council Enforcement Team. among other tasks.
The job application closes on September 10, to find out more go to www.biggleswadetowncouncil.gov.uk.