Have you ever considered how Bracknell Town Centre has changed over the last seven years?

The evolution of Bracknell has seen an alarming number of shops appear and disappear since the beginning of the town’s regeneration in 2017.

From the dilapidated concrete jungle to a shining new shopping complex, many people have mixed opinions on how the town has transformed itself.

With a fast changing economy and a nationwide pandemic in the rear view mirror, Bracknell, - which is celebrating 75 years as a new town - has seen many changes.

After taking a walk around the town, this reporter was surprised to find less empty store fronts than usual. This comes following a successful two after the Covid pandemic hit high streets. 

It seems like the big brands are dying to get their hands on one of the coveted spots in The Lexicon.

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The town centre is currently made up of Princess Square, Braccan Walk, The Avenue and High Street.

According to www.completelyretail, there are currently 9 units available to let within the multi-million pound complex.

The website also shows that 10 units are also ‘Under Offer’, meaning many new businesses will be moving to Bracknell very soon.

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Despite an occasional negative viewpoint on the new town centre by residents, both shopkeepers and shoppers alike praised the Lexicon during my visit.

Sarah Hutchingson, an artist from Craft Coop and Bracknell resident said: “I arrived in Bracknell in 2017 during the construction of the Lexicon and at first was worried because of the chaos in the town centre. Over the years however I have seen it go from strength to strength.

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“All the new shops that have appeared over the years have been fantastic. My current favourite is Sostrene Grene.”

Despite this, Sarah explained that the closure of the High Street car park has slowed the flow of traffic coming into Princess Square.

She added: “We are all hoping that the new additions to the centre will improve foot fall and shoppers.”

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Although the growth of the Lexicon has encouraged the addition of several chain stores and restaurants, it has also meant the disappearance of a variety of small, independents to the disappointment of many.

This includes the popular independent clothing store, Seasalt Cornwall, and Coffee Barker – an established coffee shop and bar.

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Manj Kaur, former manager of Coffee Barker and Bracknell resident said: “There are just too many similar restaurants and places to eat in the Lexicon now. It means that there is too much competition for smaller eateries.

“It’s also becoming very difficult for smaller stores and independents to survive in Bracknell. The rising rent and business tax is shocking and no one is being given any help.”

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Although the Lexicon experienced a down-turn in business and sales during the pandemic, the centre's footfall has been gaining momentum since 2022.

According the Rob Morris, the general manager at the Lexicon, footfall in the Lexicon has increased by 10 percent year to date when compared to 2023.

Rob said: “In the past 12 months, we have seen more than a dozen new openings including Amorino, Robert Dyas, Sostrene Grene, Giggling Squid and ProCook to name but a few.   

“The town centre is 95% occupied which is extremely positive and we are in discussions with a number of additional retailers and will share further updates as soon as we can.”