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Heritage project transforms Bedford town centre

The project, launched in September 2011, offered grants to improve traditional properties that were either derelict, in poor repair and/or vacant.

As a result, vast improvements have been made to a total 16 properties within the High Street and St Paul’s Square area. Along with town centre events, the work has helped to further increased footfall figures, with October numbers being the highest for six years. 

The project, led by Bedford Borough Council, delivered £5 million of investment into heritage buildings and initiatives in the High Street area, helping transform its future. 

Using funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the council and BedfordBID, the project levered £3 million of private sector investment from property owners and tenants to create new shopfronts, 36 new homes and bringing 33,000 sq ft of vacant space back into use.

Bedford mayor Dave Hodgson said: “The ‘before and after’ photos tell the story of what a dramatic difference this project has made to Bedford High Street.

“The funding from the partners involved has in turn levered in millions of pounds of external investment in the High Street, transforming a long list of properties for the better. Every project has enhanced and in some cases revealed the rich heritage of the High Street, while also helping to bring new life back to some previously long-derelict properties. 

“The project has really improved the look and feel of the High Street, while the works have made another major contribution to our vision of a town centre which is attractive in its own right, for retail and also much more.”

A new public square will open in 2017 with opportunity for more events and activities as a key hub within the major Riverside North regeneration scheme.

It will include a new 100-bedroom Premier Inn hotel, a new Vue cinema, new riverside restaurants and around 50 apartments. 

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