On March 13, 2008, shopping in High Wycombe changed forever as the highly anticipated new Eden Shopping Centre opened its doors to the public after years of planning. 

Over the first four days of trading, a staggering 350,000 shoppers poured through the doors of Eden to join in the dazzling opening celebrations and experience High Wycombe’s new £300million shopping and leisure destination.

While some critics argued that the shopping centre led to the decline of the High Street by drawing away shoppers, others have hailed it as a huge success for bringing more people into the town. 

Despite the criticism, the new shopping centre encouraged major retailers to move into the town – including House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare and Accessorize – and Eden quickly helped push the town into the top 50 shopping destinations in Britain and more than doubled the number of people coming to Wycombe to shop. 

Bucks Free Press:

Although many of the big-name stores who proudly opened their doors to shoppers when the Eden Centre first opened are no more – like Zavvi, Jane Norman and Billabong – the centre is still going from strength-to-strength, with huge stores such as Decathlon and TK Maxx opening up within the last two years. 

Andrew Norton, centre director since July 2016, said delivering 850,000 sqft of retail, a new bus station, 1,600 parking spaces, a 22-lane bowling alley and 12-screen cinema was "no small feat".

He said: "Ten years on, and Eden is thriving. Over 13.5 million shoppers visit each year spending £509 million on clothing and footwear and £224 million on food and beverages.

“There have no doubt been some worrying global financial troubles since Eden launched and the world is a very different place, but High Wycombe remains robust and Eden continues to deliver a strong retail and leisure experience.

“Since joining, the team and I have been working hard to take the centre to the next level. I have spent a great deal of time working with the business community to build a full understanding of the workings of the town.

“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.”

Ten years on from Eden's spectacular – but controversial - launch, we have delved into our archives to look back at the history of the shopping centre, focusing here on the construction.