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Archive - Tuesday, 4 October 2005
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Builders take first steps in Eden
WORK began in earnest last Friday on Eden, the £130 million shopping and leisure development in High Wycombe town centre.
Eighteen months later, in February 2008, the first eager shoppers should be stepping across the threshold.
Eden has been a long time coming. The area was given the name the western desert when houses were demolished and the river Wye culverted. In 1991, improving it was named a top priority by Wycombe District Council.
Fourteen years on Eden is at last in sight, and is the first piece in the jigsaw of the council's High Wycombe masterplan.
This long-term vision includes getting rid of Abbey Way, so creating a unified town centre. Abbey Way would be replaced by a new road along Queen Alexandra Road linking with Oxford Road further west.
Removing the traffic will allow large open green spaces to be created for visitors, workers and shoppers to enjoy at the foot of Marlow Hill and where the Oxford Road roundabout now is. It will allow the Wye to be opened.
An arts quarter linked to the university would be created near the Swan on the land now occupied by fire station, the Liberal Club and the Royal British Legion.
The planned new sports centre could be built in town rather than at Cressex.
Preparatory work on Eden has been going on since February. Large sums have already been spent moving electricity, gas and water pipes and cables running under the building site. That should be finished in a couple of weeks.
What people should see today is temporary lightweight steel fencing going up around Bridge Street car park to keep people out, so that heavy plant can move in.
There will be vision holes so people can keep an eye on progress and a web cam recording the work so that people can see it all on screen.
Eden is a 675,000 sq ft development of shops, parking, library, new bus station, one and two-bedroomed flats, eating and drinking places, cinema and a bowling alley, on land between Oxford Road, Abbey Way, Bridge Street Lily's Walk and Desborough Road There are two large anchor stores; the House of Fraser; and a 104,000 sq ft Marks and Spencer, which will take the ground and first floor of the building at the entrance to the development on the Oxford Road frontage.