Selfridges in Harpenden?

By Ron Taylor. Editor

When you look at the incredible variety of retail shops in Harpenden and Southdown it all adds up to a giant departmental store.


So next time you think of going to shop in London, think again, it could all be here on your doorstep. Save the train fare, spend a day in ‘the village’ and sample the fayre from one of the many bars or restaurants.

The list below shows what’s available (up to Roundwood Lane but excludes Southdown)

Art Galleries x 1

Art/Picture Frame workshop x 2

Babies and young children shops x 1

Baker and Cake shops x 2

Banks x 4

Beauty Salon/Spa/Nails x 5

Beauty/Cosmetics x 4

Betting shop x 1

Book shop x 1

Butcher x 1

Building Societies x 4

Cards, Books, Stationary, Papers and Magazines x 1

Carpet and flooring  x 2

Charity shops x 9

Chemists x 4

Coffee Bars/Tea shops x 9

Delicatessen x 2

DIY and Paint x 1

Dry Cleaners x 2

Empty Shops x 7

Estate Agents & Letting Agents x 11

Fast Food x 6

Financial Advice x 2

Fitness Centre/Gym/Pilates x 3

Florist x 2

Frozen Foods x 1

Furniture and fabric shops x 1

Convenience stores x 2

Gift & Card shops x 4

Health shops x 1

Jewellers x 3

Kitchen/Bathroom shops x 3

Ladies Hairdressers x 10

Ladies wear x 7

Men’s hairdressers x 5

Men’s wear x 1

Newsagents x 2

Opticians x 4

Phone shop x 2

Pet shop x 1

Post Office x 1

Restaurants x 15

Sandwich shop x 2

Sweet shops x 1

Shoe shops x 1

Shoe repairs x 1

Sporting goods x 1

Supermarkets x 4

Travel agents x 1

Vape products x 1

Wine shops x 2

Local shop owners face many problems.

Rising rent and rates...declining disposable consumer incomes...pressure by the supermarkets to take market share from the independents...increasing popularity of shopping centres and internet shopping.

So go out and support your local shops.

The Harpenden Estate is the

block of ground shops and

second floor offices and flats

running from Space NK to Papa

John’s, then round

to the side facing Waitrose.

Pears Property has bought an

unbrokenblock of shops in Harpenden

as it seeks to deploy capital into the

real estate sector. The firm has

bought the 1.1-acre Harpenden

Estate from Columbia Threadneedle

for around £15m – a circa 8% yield.

The freehold, mixed-use island site on Harpenden High Street comprises 29 shops let to tenants including Waterstones, Space NK and JoJo Maman Bebe, four residential blocks and some office space.

The site had been under offer to St Albans District Council for more than £18.7m early in 2020, but the deal came under fire from councillors and was put on hold following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The deal ultimately fell through and Pears, as an all-cash buyer, was able to swoop in to buy the asset in around a week.

Pears has bought more than £50m of property from Columbia Threadneedle so far this year as the fund seeks to raise funds to service redemptions. Earlier this year, Pears spent £35m buying the Hornet Portfolio, a collection of seven industrial assets in Dorset, Sunderland and Newcastle, from Threadneedle.

Pears was unable to comment on the deal, but sources said the group had been attracted to the Harpenden Estate due to the affluence of the local area and strength of community retail. It is also understood to be keen to deploy more funds into the sector and is targeting opportunistic acquisitions, particularly in the industrial sector.

Harpendia will be speaking to the shop owners this week for their reactions AND also to Pears Property for their thoughts on future development of the the block.

Ron Taylor, Editor.

Harpenden Retailers Shopping Guide

View all pages in scroll down version below OR click on this link to see them in page turning format.

‘By Appointment

We here at Gallery Rouge have evolved the way we work, adapting to post lockdown life. We want to keep the gallery a safe space for you, your families and for ourselves. We are placing a greater emphasis on our 'by appointment service', so when you do pop in, we can ensure that we are all playing our part. 

To book your in gallery consultation, simply pick a date and time between Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm (our current studio opening hours). Call or email us indicating the artworks you would like to see and we will do the rest. We'll have the artwork ready and awaiting for you to view! 

If you can't physically pop in, not to worry! We are offering the same level of service virtually - simply let us know when works best for you and will hang the gallery with your chosen artwork for you to view. 

We look forward to seeing you soon! 

Gallery Rouge

78 High Street


JUNE.Harpenden Retailers express their concerns about the potential threat of High Street pedestrianisation following Herts County Council’s ‘High Street Recovery’ consultation.

I attended a meeting on June 16 organised by the owners of Threads and Oui to discuss the implications of the consultation with Town Mayor, Paul Cousin, Town Clerk Carl Cheevers, County Councillor Terry Heritage and a representative from Herts County Council. Also present was Michael Weaver ex Mayor and shop owner.  Such was the scale of opposition that 13 retailers attended, all of whom were vocal in their criticism of the report’s implications. Most were under the impression that once Covid restrictions were lifted the road closures would end, the large planters would be removed and all parking restrictions lifted. The survey questions did not take account of  Harpenden’s actual situation and seemed biased in favour of HCC’s objectives to reassess the future of the High Street and by implication introduce pedestrianisation. This would mean a further loss of parking spaces without any provision for new parking resulting in reduced footfall and business closures.

Terry Heritage on behalf of Herts CC defended the overall survey claiming misunderstanding  and were prepared to take account of the views expressed on the night before concluding their actions. The retailer comments were noted by the Herts CC representative who responded on many occasions to the issues.

Town Mayor Paul Cousin was equally concerned, claiming the survey was poorly prepared and should have been produced by a professional research firm.


Lara Wares said: 'we really appreciated a member of Herts County Council and the County Councillor who represents us, Theresa Heritage, coming to the meeting and listening to the concerns of retailers from all parts of the town centre about how these restrictions adversely affect our businesses,  after the year we have had, now is the time that we need their support to get our businesses back on track'

Fiona Thomas said:’The meeting was constructive with our views being heard and having the support of the HTC and Mayor was a great support.  I believe the survey is biased towards a positive answer supporting the restrictions to stay. I think the residents need to understand this means taking the parking away which means they will have to pay for parking within the car parks.  I hope when filling out the survey residents take this into consideration.  To have a thriving high street it’s imperative to have good parking. In addition, the High Street needs to be accessible to the elderly and the less mobile.  Please support your local retailers so we can reopen the social distancing measures when its safe to do so.’


NB. Retailers had also met with the Lib Dem councillors Paul de Kort, Pip Liver & Harry Hill the previous week to discuss their concerns about the regarding the unfair bias of the survey and the negative impact the restrictions are having on local retailers'.

Following the meeting I asked Terry Heritage a series of questions:

Q1. Your introduction stated clearly that the consultation was meant to assess the views of how the Covid-19 emergency measures had worked and consider options to the Lower High Street (Bowers Parade) following their removal when authorised. It was not intended as consideration for pedestrianisation. Can you give your assurance that pedestrianisation is NOT on the current Agenda?

A. Yes, I can give total assurance that pedestrianisation is not the driver for this engagement process. Here is a link press release to the press release that was issued by County in May explaining the process and the reason for the engagement.  It might be that come the end of the engagement period County will have received requests that include pedestrianisation for some sections (this is unlikely though). As mentioned at the meeting we will be setting up a governance group (membership to be agreed) to assess the feedback and provide a system of weighting on which we can base a decision regarding the next steps. That may be the removal of measures, or a trial to assess an agreed set of changes on site, that would need to be fully consulted upon before any permanent changes would be made. It is really important that everybody responds separately, although of course joint representation will be taken into account.

Q2. The retailers present expressed an entirely different understanding.

A. I am sorry that the retailers had a different impression. These measures went in, to respond to the Covid 19 pandemic and provide space for social distancing. Before they are removed the County Council have sought to understand people’s views on the measures and what they might like to see in the future.

I have always made is clear that pedestrianisation was not on my agenda and even if it proves to be something that has a level of support for its consideration, would only happen anyway following a full and proper consultation.

If officers have ever given that impression I apologise.

Q3. They all complained about the inaccuracies within the descriptions, the biases in the questions, the irrelevances of many questions and non inclusion of key issues.

A. As we explained this was a generic engagement for the whole county as we were asking generic questions slightly adjusted to take account of the different layouts in each Town. No bias was intended.

Q4. The Town Mayor said it was a poorly constructed survey and should have been created by a research agency to avoid all the failings.

A. That was the Mayor’s opinion and has never been conveyed to me by him, nor has he had a conversation with me on the subject.

The survey questions, alongside the promotional material was shared with the Town Council for comment. Officers working on the project have advised that changes were suggested by the Town Clerk and these were incorporated where they were able to be facilitated.

Q5. The HCC man explained that 10,000 postcards had been produced and distributed around Harpenden households to collect residents’ views. Nobody had seen these. He suggested that they could be reprinted and the return date extended. Can we see a pdf of this postcard to assess it’s value and how it will be distributed?

A. At the request of the Town Council at the meeting held in May, HCC officers agreed to use a local distribution company recommended by the Town council to circulate the postcard to all residential properties. HCC officers have advised me that the postcard was developed with the Town Council to be specific to Harpenden. A distribution company previously used twice by the Town Council was employed to distribute the postcards to residents. The distribution company have provided evidence that the postcards have been delivered satisfactorily to AL5 residents. This check was done through an independent phone call check to a sample of residents to ask if they have received the postcard.  As such a further distribution is not considered necessary. To date nearly 800 responses have been received which demonstrates that there is good awareness within the community and the date of the engagement process has been extended across all sites to the 11th of July.

Businesses were contacted via a postcard delivered by the Royal Mail.

Q6. The retailer’s objectives, expressed in many different forms, were to see how HCC would start the removal process of the barriers and the planters, reinstall parking and get things back to pre Covid times. How can these views be expressed to HCC and taken notice of?

A. Firstly, I would recommend that all businesses fill in the engagement survey. As I have already said a governance group will be formed and I said on the evening that I had already suggested to officers that a member of the retailers be included on the group as well as a rep from the Town Council. As the elected Member for the Town Centre, I will ensure that all views are heard and considered. I am not sure why you think that this will not happen.

Q7. The parking issues were a major concern and needed actions to improve the situation. How can this be achieved?

A. Whilst I appreciate that parking is important to the traders and the current changes will impact on peoples behaviours this engagement is not about general parking issues in the Town Centre. Parking is a District Council responsibility.

Q8. Many shoppers were in the older demographic, not being able to complete surveys on line or access hard copies so their views would go unheard unless some other action were implemented to gain these views. Can this happen?

A. I have already provided a pdf version to Fiona and the Town Council have paper versions. It has always been made clear that paper versions are available and I have said on social media that residents can write direct to me with their views.

The engagement postcards and posters also include a phone number where alternative formats can be requested, or help sought to complete the survey. This number can be used to request paper copies of the survey be sent to an address.

Q9. Town Clerk Carl Cheevers said they would be happy to consider retailer views and those from HCC and implement actions. How would this process actually work?

A. As I understood it the Town Council are submitting their own response so you need to ask Carl Cheevers about this.

Q10. One of your expectations from the retailers were suggestions on how new ideas could be introduced to increase footfall into the town centre and generate more business for the shops. How should these ideas be conveyed to you and how will they be funded?

A. Yes, the ideas should be conveyed to me and/or shared with the Town Council. The County Council has funding at this time to remove or move around the current street furniture. Funding for other changes would have to be considered in the usual way in the budget process at County but I know the Town Council has a fund for Town improvements. I do try and work with the Town Council as closely as possible.

Ron Taylor. Editor.


How to make your home greener and more restful.

Simply visit the Pop Up Shop (Opp Waitrose) and talk to John (pictured) from Hugo & Green. Sept 13 - 19.

Hugo & Green are houseplant experts with a passion for greening up your home (one of us is a dog). 
We can help you find, install and maintain plants for ANY indoor space, we also sell a range of easy to care for houseplants that can be delivered to your door in Harpenden.

Beautiful art to brighten up your at the POP UP shop all week.

Local artist Liz Rogers (pictured) shows her skills in floral art and sea scapes PLUS an amazing collage.

Call in and meet her . Sept 13 - 19. Opp Waitrose.

Harpenden Town Council Statement regarding High Street measures implemented in response to the challenges of Covid

In 2020, Hertfordshire County Council, together with St Albans City and District Council and Harpenden Town Council, delivered a number of initiatives that aimed to protect the local community, including the vulnerable, to access essential High Street services.

One of these initiatives was the introduction of the social distancing measures in the High Street, identified as a location of potential high risk due to its footfall and narrow footways. These temporary measures were introduced in line with national and local Public Health guidelines.

In the summer of 2021 a survey was conducted to understand local views on whether temporary measures should be considered for a longer term trial period. A project board, including officers and elected representatives from Hertfordshire County Council, St Albans City and District Council and Harpenden Town Council was created to help consider the options and decide upon the future of the measures.  

Having considered the findings of this survey, listened to the views of local people and considered the issues raised by businesses, the project board has concluded that the continuation of the existing High Street measures is not the right option for Harpenden. As such the measures will be removed and the High Street layout returned to how it was before the measures were introduced.

We know that the pandemic has presented challenges to local communities and businesses and it is crucial to support them going forwards.

In the weeks and months ahead the Town Council will be focussed on supporting the recovery of the High Street. This will include delivering events and initiatives that draw people into the Town and improving public spaces to make them more attractive, thus encouraging people to stay longer.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank those who took the time to complete the survey or share their views with us in a different way. We will provide updates on when the measures will be removed once available.