All for one’ is the way ahead for town centres, says BedfordBID chairman

Mar 13, 2014

Ken Shuttleworth, the architect behind the London’s Gherkin tower, says policy makers should shift the town centre emphasis to services other than just retail.

Bedford’s Business Improvement District, which represents 575  town centre levy-payers, says that such diversity enhances the town centre.

Mr Shuttleworth was speaking in the report by the Future Spaces Foundation which says that on-line shopping – expected to account for 25% of sales by 2016 – challenges the traditional High Street shopping identity. Retail will benefit from a broader use of High Streets premises which will bring different people past their shop doors.

BedfordBID chairman Rae Levene, managing partner at law firm Park Woodfine Heald Mellows, said: “Here in Bedford we recognised the value of non-retailers supporting the town centre when we set up the BID in 2005. Since then, Bedford has fared better than many other town centres with a mix of occupancy and interest.”

The town centre is a mix of offices, retail and education, including schools and hundreds of students at Bedford College. The Love Bedford campaign promoting the town centre offer has the backing of local business and the BID hosted a conference last month on how non-retail businesses in Bedford can work together.

Bedford was one of 12 towns selected to trial BIDs in 2005 and the system is now being promoted across the UK.

Mr Levene said: “Bedford led the way with BIDs in the UK. It is an all-for-one approach which is the only way ahead.” 

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