In 2005 it was announced that Wycombe would have a new shopping centre, along with a library and bus station, that would transform the town and make it a more desirable place to hold off the allure for locals to go to other better shopping centres in neighbouring towns. 

In 2008 the named Eden Shopping Centre opened to a fanfare of optimism and also criticism. We have now had the 10th anniversary of Eden and this could be a good time to reflect on whether it has actually been good for the town as a whole. 

There is no denying that the western side of High Wycombe was an area neglected and was made up of Bridge Street car park and Stewart and Arnold factory. 

This backed onto Desborough Road and the Iceland store. On the more eastern side (towards the High Street) The Chiltern Shopping Centre adjoined the original Marks and Spencer that housed regular High Street brands such as Wallis, Samuels and Burtons. 

Church Street then meandered with more well-known brands to join the High Street which, even though it was the banking centre for the town, still had major brands many years before but kept some restaurants and cafes with the newly located Iceland. 

What we have seen since 2008 is recession that has not only affected High Wycombe town centre but also nearly every other.

The public now came to High Wycombe’s glossy new shopping centre where House of Fraser rose like a cathedral as the four-storey pinnacle centre piece. 

This left The Chilterns and High Street struggling and so led to the closure of most of the top chain names in The Chilterns to make it a low-end market-style shopping centre where some traders didn’t even accept credit cards.
The people’s march towards the west also neglected the High Street that now holds neither High Street allure nor character and is really only known for the street market selling very little but budget goods. 

Over the years though we have seen that the retailers and restaurants in Eden struggle with their finances. 

The restaurant pod outside M&S has had four-five changes of rebranding, and 50 per cent of the single unit retailers have forfeited their tenures to be replaced by new incoming tenants hoping to survive the retail doldrums. 

The conclusion is that for all the optimism in 2008, 10 years on, we have seen Eden affect the rest of the town with closures and retail movement that have made it feel dowdy, but even the retailers in Eden are struggling to survive. 

Wycombe District Council should not be without criticism for not encouraging rent reductions to help the struggling areas. It was their proposal to make Wycombe a better place that hasn’t lived those prospects and altered the image of most of the retail area. 

It is now written that the House of Fraser brand could be in crisis. If the Wycombe store does close there is no other brand to take its place (as Debenhams is also counting the cost).

If the closure does happen the shining alter of the cathedral could pull down the remainder of the retail church.

Neil Wallis, address withheld