Eden opened on 12 March 2008 and propelled High Wycombe from 102nd in the UK’s top retail destinations to 44th virtually overnight, making Eden’s impact on the town proportionally greater than the arrival of the Bullring in Birmingham.
It took 11 years to bring Eden to fruition, but its eventual impact on High Wycombe was worth the wait. Delivering 850,000 sqft of retail, a new bus station, 1,600 parking spaces, an 22-lane bowling alley and 12-screen cinema was no small feat. In the final weeks 900 people were working on the development to make sure it opened on time.
Eden opened with 95% of the available units let and seamlessly blended in the 175,000 sq ft Octagon Centre into the new scheme with a comprehensive refurbishment.
Ultimately, it allowed High Wycombe to fulfill its retail and leisure potential with retailers like Next increasing its size from 4,000 sq ft to 22,000 sq ft and M&S upgrading their presence from 40,000 sq ft to 104,000 sq ft.
House of Fraser also committed early to bring a £25 million, 140,000 sq ft store to rival its branch in nearby Reading.
By increasing retail and leisure offer in High Wycombe, the town immediately saw an increase in footfall, which inevitably created opportunities for other retail areas too. The High Street, Frogmore and Desborough, close to the development, no doubt benefitted from the increased profile.
There have been some worrying global financial troubles since Eden launched and the word is a very different place, but High Wycombe remains robust and Eden continues to deliver a strong retail and leisure experience.
High Wycombe is an exceptional town that is in the process of achieving its full potential. The forward thinking nature of our business community is the driving force of the town’s economic success, but it’s the local community that gives High Wycombe its uniquely special personality. It’s a wonderful place to live, work, study and socialise.