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Five things that need to change to improve Bedford High Street

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Bedford High Street sign post

There is simply no denying that Bedford High Street is not the shopping destination that it once was. This is not a problem unique to Bedford. Many high streets across Bedfordshire have suffered in the past decade as shopping habits have changed. But of all the high streets across Bedfordshire, Bedford High Street can easily turn the tide of decreasing shoppers. We visited Bedford High Street last week and looked at five things that need to change.

1. A clean street is a happy street

The quote is actually ‘A clean home is a happy home‘ but the sentiment still applies. Granted, our visit was in the middle of a pandemic but nonetheless, this has been a common complaint from locals and shoppers. Bedford’s high street, in general, is pretty clean and the vast majority of local shoppers do their bit. There are a few however who don’t understand that cleanliness is next to godliness; such as the residents living above the entrance to The Arcade.

The Arcade in Bedford is home to some amazing independent stores such as Boutique Planet and Arcadia Sweet Shop. The last thing they need in the current climate is unthoughtful local residents using the window ledge over the entrance as a dump.

The Arcade on Bedford High Street

2. Cover empty stores

Store closures happen. They happen everywhere from The Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the West End’s Oxford Street. Many high streets have seen closures with the likes of Next and Monsoon closing their doors. Empty shops are not just eyesores; they suck the life out of high streets. Other towns have been very proactive in turning long term empty shops into art galleries, startup hubs, and even libraries.

Closed retailer Beales on Bedford High Street

Closed retailer Beales on Bedford High Street

Bedford has its fair share of empty stores and they need to be utilised. At the very least, the windows should be used to promote positive messaging about Bedford and the local community. Beales in Bedford has been closed for some time after falling into administration. This is prime advertising space that could be proactively put to good use. Marlowes in Hemel Hempstead has utilised this closed retail unit to promote local amenities. It makes a world of difference.

Hemel Hempstead Marlowes vinyl wrap

3. Focus on fashion, food, and fun

Post-Covid, Bedford High Street will change forever. Whether it is for good or bad is dependent on the high street’s stakeholders. Many fashion outlets are planning on using smaller stores as collection points. Increasing fulfillment costs and high returns are taking the shine off online shopping. Modern bars, quality street vendors and a focus on child-friendly fun/entertainment should be the top priorities.

4. Close traffic to the High Street

Slightly controversial but the entire high street should be pedestrianised during peak shopping hours. Quality street vendors, places to sit, and safe areas for kids to roam will start to entice shoppers back. As previously mentioned, empty stores can be used to offer unique shopping experiences. With a temporary car-free zone, our suggestion of a focus on fashion, food, and fun could be a reality.

Would Bedford benefit from being pedestrianised?

5. Diverse family restaurants

Bedford has a diverse community that should be represented on the high street. Opening on Saturday 1st August, CaRumBar will offer authentic Jamaican cuisine in a family-friendly setting. Independent restaurants offering a different dining experience will help shape the outlook for Bedford’s high street.


What would you like to see change? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Business

St Albans favourites deny rumours of new High Street in the sky

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New St Albans High Street

Late on Tuesday night, three high profile businesses in St Albans were forced to release statements denying involvement in the launch of a Super High Street above St Albans.

Three of the so called St Albans ‘Big Six’ – Chloe James Lifestyle, Must Wine Bar and Mad Squirrel – have all put out statements denying rumours they plan to create a new St Albans High. The remaining three are expected to make statements in the next 24 hours.

The announcement of a new St Albans High Street has caused enormous uproar across Hertfordshire and beyond, with near universal disbelief from shoppers, local residents and politicians – including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Unconfirmed plans suggest a monorail system will be constructed to take shoppers from the iconic clock tower to the yet-to-be confirmed new St Albans High Street somewhere above St Albans Cathedral.

New St Albans High Street

Entrance to St Albans’ proposed new Super High Street

Donna Nichol, owner of the popular independent fashion store Chloe James Lifestyle has issued a statement.

I have absolutely no idea where this has come from and ironically, I cannot see it getting off the ground. We have been welcoming back our customers and have enjoyed the buzz of a busy shop. Why would I want to move my store 30 feet above St Albans?

I have just recently updated the shop window with a new French brand called FRNCH – how will anyone see it? Ignore the rumours and find us where we have been keeping St Albans fashionable for the last ten years.

Chloe James Lifestyle prepares for lockdown reopening

Mad Squirrel St Albans have also put out a strong worded statement in response to news of the Super High Street. General Manager James has gone on record and said “Of the 25 beers we have on tap, nothing is that strong”.


We have been here in St Albans for almost two years and whilst we are accustomed to hearing the occasional bit of nonsense in the taproom, this idea is farcical. Beer and heights don’t mix so we will remain on the ground floor of St Albans in Heritage Close serving the finest beers to St Albans residents.”

Mad Squirrel has quickly established itself as one of the predominant beer destinations in St Albans. With access from the footpath towards the Abbey, it would seem a strange decision from management but when you are around beer all day, anything can happen.

Mad Squirrel St Albans

Mad Squirrel staff claimed to not have seen the plans

Local resident Isabelle Ringing who we interviewed shopping in St Albans said the idea was nonsense. “St Albans is unique and residents love it the way it is. Why? a monorail? I just can’t get my head around it – we don’t need this nonsense in St Albans.”

Have a glass or two at Must Wine Bar Harpenden

Must Wine located on George Street were also quick to release a statement in regards to the rumours. Wine Steward and c0-owner Mike Nuttall explained, “I get the idea – great minds drink alike and the concept of tasting the finest wines with breathtaking views of Hertfordshire is idyllic.

However, the individual who came up with the pour decision of running a monorail above St Albans is clearly on cloud wine.” Must Wine will continue run wine tasting classes on George Street.

As these rumours of a break-away high street continue to spread, the TrendLife team will continue to keep you updated with facts instead of fiction.

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Accessories

St Albans’ favourite Chloe James Lifestyle prepares for reopening

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Chloe James Lifestyle prepares for lockdown reopening

As one of St Albans’ favourite destinations for all things haute couture, we are excited that Chloe James Lifestyle have announced they will be reopening this coming Monday 12th April.

Regular St Albans shoppers will know Chloe James Lifestyle has been a fixture on High Street St Albans for over 10 years. Despite being extremely busy preparing for the reopening, Owner Donna Nichol has shared her thoughts on reopening Chloe James Lifestyle and what changes fashionistas can expect.

Chloe James Lifestyle owner Donna Nichol

Chloe James Lifestyle owner Donna Nichol

What are you looking forward to most at Chloe James Lifestyle?

Personally, I’m really looking forward to the buzz of a busy shop again – lots of chat and laughter and the general feel good vibes of helping people look and feel their best. Nothing beats it! When we reopen, we are going straight back to our normal hours i.e. 10-5.30 Monday to Saturday and 11-4 on Sunday. We can’t wait to open the doors again and welcome our customers back in!

What new changes can we expect at Chloe James Lifestyle?

The shop has had a complete refresh. Every single inch has been cleaned and there are lots of new products for our customers to enjoy, including great gift lines and a new jewellery brand as well as our Spring fashion collections. One of my personal favourites is a new French fashion label called FRNCH which we are currently featuring in our window – the colours are just stunning!

We love what independent businesses bring to St Albans. How do you think shoppers will respond post lockdown?

I believe there’s going to be a real return to shopping small. After all, we are the ones who have carried on throughout the pandemic, finding ways to adapt to our customers’ needs, offering Click & Collect and always being at the end of a phone to help find the perfect birthday gift. We’ve even personally delivered them on a specific date when it was possible!

We’ve also kept our windows vibrant to cheer up the daily walk and many people have said how much they loved this. It’s become apparent to everyone how much small independent businesses add to their community and we really must make sure they don’t disappear!


About Chloe James – Chloe James Lifestyle is an elegant lifestyle boutique based in St Albans specialising in fashion, art, stylish interiors and beautiful gifts.

TrendLife Magazine is available from a network of stockists across Beds, Bucks and Herts. For more info, contact us.

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Accessories

AKILA have joined forces with techwear designer Charli Cohen

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LA based eyewear brand AKILA have joined forces with UK based techwear designer Charli Cohen to create Halo. A special limited edition capsule collection, AKILA x Charli Cohen Halo drops this Easter Weekend.

LA based eyewear brand AKILA have joined forces with UK based techwear designer Charli Cohen to create Halo. A special limited edition capsule collection, AKILA x Charli Cohen Halo drops this Easter Weekend.

AKILA Eyewear are designed to last & handcrafted from eco-friendly plant-based cellulose acetate. Unlike most other eyewear brands, Akila frames are made from cellulose acetate — an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum based plastics.

CHARLI COHEN

Charli Cohen was born out of a need for evolved clothing and progression within the fashion industry. They specialise in NEXTWEAR: a concept that looks to the future of fashion, aesthetically, in terms of technology and in terms of sustainability.

ABOUT CHARLI COHEN

Charli Cohen manufacture limited quantities of each style in London, Leicester, Porto and Shanghai. Using premium, responsibly produced technical textiles from Milan, as well as upcycling from military surplus and tacticalwear, Charli Cohen is a brand to follow.

This frame boasts a retro industrial look that combines hard-edged style with ergonomic comfort. Featuring a wrap-around shape, all pairs include a barb-wire chain retainer which can be attached to metal eyelets on each temple or worn as a necklace.

This capsule collection drops Friday 2nd April at AKILA

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