Bedford Borough selected for High Streets Heritage Action Zone

Bedford Borough Council will receive £1.76 million from Historic England to deliver building works and a cultural programme to regenerate Bedford high street.

The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership and LoveBedford are also contributing funding.

The High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme is run by Historic England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, with a contribution from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

It encourages partnerships with local organisations, building owners and occupiers to secure lasting improvements to buildings and the public realm. The initiative aims to make the high street a more attractive place for residents to visit and shop.

The funding Bedford Borough Council will receive will be spent on physical building works and to deliver a cultural programme to encourage people to engage with the local heritage. Councillor Henry Vann, portfolio holder for Town Centres and Planning, said:

“Yet more investment has been secured for our town centre and we are delighted with the success of our High Street Heritage Action Zone bid. High streets across the UK are facing challenging times but in Bedford Borough, with our shared vision and exciting partnerships with local businesses and communities, we will be able to provide a real boost to the High Street for those who live in, work in, learn in, shop in and visit our town.

“Bedford has such a rich, diverse history and heritage and this funding will help us restore some of the buildings that play such a vital role in that history as well as help us to try and bring some buildings back into use, further supporting town centre businesses.

“Through our work with Historic England and local partners, we will be able to make real physical improvements to the appearance of Bedford’s High Street and historic buildings.”

Reducing traffic and bringing back the wider community

In Bedford funding will be used to reinstate the historic features of buildings across the high street, reducing traffic and bringing the wider community back into the area.

The Council has currently earmarked 43 buildings as eligible for funding under the HSHAZ programme. Improvements to these buildings could include:

  • Reinstatement of traditional shopfronts
  • Conversion of vacant floor space for retail and/or residential use
  • Repair and reinstatement of architectural details to the façade of buildings
  • Undertaking structural works to help achieve these improvements

Tony Calladine, regional director at Historic England in the East of England, said:

“Investing in heritage delivers good results for people – it means looking after and celebrating the places at the heart of our communities, and the buildings and public spaces which define their character.

“This investment for our historic High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme will unlock the potential of these precious high streets and help them thrive again.”

If you are a building owner in Bedford Borough and your premises falls within the High Street Heritage Action Zone, you can speak with the HSHAZ team about possible refurbishments to your property.

If you would like to get in touch, please contact Jessica Mittler, HSHAZ Project Manager:

Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone