Vacancy rates are a good way of indicating the success and prosperity of town centres. Since November 2013, performance has fluctuated between 6.6% and 10%.
7.5% of Central Bedfordshire’s town centre units are vacant. This is an increase from the 5.36% reported in February 2019. There are 4 vacant units in Ampthill (-1), 1 in Arlesey (+1), 16 in Biggleswade (+12), 29 in Dunstable (+3), 2 in Flitwick (+1), 11 in Leighton Buzzard (+3), 4 in Sandy and 2 (+1) in Shefford. Houghton Regis and Stotfold do not have any vacant retail units. This increase in vacant units reflects the national trend as the Retail Gazette reported in August 2019 that the number of empty retail units in town centres across the UK has reached the highest levels in four years. The Council will continue to support businesses through the use of our own assets and packages of support. The most notable increase was in Biggleswade, with a number of traditional public house closures as a result of the popularity of Weatherspoons and other 'fashionable' bars and restaurants.