Eden - 'It's what we've been waiting for'

DELIGHTED shoppers have given the thumbs up to High Wycombe's new Eden centre.

As thousands of curious residents poured into the new shopping and leisure centre today, they gave positive feedback on its stores, design and atmosphere.

At times, the streets were so crowded that shoppers were restricted to a shuffle. But, they were entertained along the way by the Vitae West African drummers and dancers who drew dozens of spectators.

In nearby Frogmoor, people queued around the pedestrianised square for their free ride on the 80ft Wycombe Wheel, while the SV2G Steel Orchestra and Adanta dance group entertained passing shoppers.

Julie Stroud, 39, from Totteridge, said: "It's about time we had something decent. We've waited so long for it and I think it's really good. It's got all the shops we want to be here - all the big brands.

"I get the feeling there's not much shopping being done here today - people are just coming for a browse, like we are.

"I'm just wondering now how shops in other areas of the town will fair."

By lunchtime, both the Eden and Swan car parks were full and motorists had to find alternative places to leave their vehicles before they could start shopping.

Queues formed by the pay machines on the ground floor of the Eden car park and some drivers complained that there was not enough signage to direct the to alternative payment areas or to help them navigate around the new car park layout.

Wendy Dunn, 39, had walked into town with her daughter Nicole, 12, to explore the new centre and go to the cinema.

She said: "I love it. It's so busy. It's a big difference to the outside car park that used to be here.

I think it's lovely, especially because most of it is covered to protect you from the rain. There are lots of goo shops that we haven't before, like H&M which you had to travel to Reading for.

"There's so much more for the kids to do now too. That's what was needed for the town.

"I don't know exactly what we were expecting but I'm just glad there's so much here. It's going to bring so many people in from other areas - that's what they want of course but I don't know what that will mean for us here.

"I was quite disappointed that some shops haven't opened yet and some haven't even been let. Maybe they should have put the opening day back a couple of weeks to get everything ready."

But Daniel Tomkinson, Eden centre manager, said: "To have as many shops as we've got open today is a big plus. A few more will be opening in the coming days and weeks. Eden is going to continue to grow. We've started with a very strong offer and that's just going to get better and better."

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