A Class apartments

19 July 2017

The trend to transform former commercial premises and offices into fashionable flats is creating a new upmarket customer base for Bedford’s town centre businesses.

High quality conversions such as Kensington Gardens, Grove Apartments, Swan House, and now the Merton Centre, once the home of the successful NFC organisation, is creating a cohort of people who want to eat and drink close to home. 

Many may commute to and from London and Cambridge and are looking for the same top quality of restaurants and bars to enjoy at the weekend. They want to be able to pop and shop and have the convenience of local services being open on a Sunday.

Shaun Barnett of Leaders who are letting the concierge-controlled multi-million development Platform (formerly the Merton Centre) in St Peter’s Street said: “These are 150 incredibly high spec apartments which will attract people who expect similar standards of service from the town centre. Already three-quarters full, this development is reinventing renting.”

One businessman who recognises the value of quality service is Kevin Kavanagh who lives in one of the stylish new apartment blocks in Goldington Road and runs Frescoes coffee house on Mill Street. As a member of the Bedford Business Improvement District (BID) Board, Kevin was instrumental in encouraging the cafe society we see in Bedford today. He conducted comparative research which showed that Bedford businesses were paying thousands more than Cambridge for the right to have tables and chairs outside. Now the price is right, and dozens of businesses have benefited from his voluntary efforts.

“Businesses have to adapt to the changing demands of the customer and we have to do it together,” said Kevin,

“The people who are moving into these modern new apartments have high expectations of what they want Bedford to look like when they step out of the front door. They recognise the brand names at the new Riverside but can be encouraged to visit independents if the service and quality meets their demanding standards.

“These developments will raise the quality of services and shops in Bedford to meet their more discerning customers.”

Kerry Cash, owner of 5th Avenue Hair and Beauty Salon is already finding new clients coming in on Sundays: “Independents like us have to be open when it suits busy working people to have their treatments. Those from all these lovely new apartments can walk along to us on a Sunday. Others coming from farther afield of course benefit from the council’s free parking on town in Sundays too.”

Want to see the Merton Centre for yourself - go to the 3D show via https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=2qyKvAXfixd

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