Bedford Borough Council HQ Image:Bedford Borough Council

Twenty-six towns in England will share over £610 million to boost their local economies, create jobs and help them build back better from the pandemic.

The government said the money will help them to grow their local economies, while also carving out new opportunities to reshape the look and feel of their areas.

These new Towns Deals range from seaside towns like Hastings and Hartlepool to the historic market towns of Bedford and Bishop Auckland. Bedford Borough will receive £22.6 million.

In October 2020, the Borough council and Bedford Town Deal Board submitted their Town Investment Plan.

The Town Investment Plan put forward a vision and strategy for how the money will be used in Bedford and identifies value for money projects that will have a positive impact on the town.

Councillor Henry Vann, portfolio holder for town centres and planning, said:

“This is a fantastic win for the whole of Bedford Borough. The investment that has been secured by the Bedford Town Deal Board is a testament to the well-developed and thought out projects put forward in our Town Investment Plan.

“Thank you to everyone who has responded to related consultations and to everyone on the Town Deal Board for their work in supporting this bid. This successful bid will allow us to continue to invest in Bedford town centre and ensure it is a great place for people to live, work and stay.

“After such a challenging year for town centres across the country, we can now look forward to seeing these projects come to life and bring meaningful, significant improvements for residents and visitors of Bedford Borough.”

The projects submitted in the plan include regeneration of the Station Quarter and Midland Road, public realm improvements to St. Paul’s Square, improvements to town centre junctions and local pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and investment in Health, Science and Digital Skills and Full Fibre broadband.

The regeneration of the Station Quarter and Midland Road will bring important investment to these spaces as key gateways to the town centre for visitors in Bedford. The regeneration projects will also see investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, which connects the two areas and creates a vibrant corridor to the town centre.

The suggested public realm improvements to St. Paul’s Square will enhance the experience for both shoppers and visitors, increasing the vibrancy of the centre of Bedford and promoting the town as a place to meet friends and family and have fun.

The proposed investment in our roads, pedestrian and cycling network will promote greater accessibility and mobility for residents, while relieving pinch points across the town centre, reducing congestion and creating a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians.

The Town Investment Plan also includes a scheme for funding investment in Health, Science and Digital Skills through expanding the current offer from Bedford College to allow them to offer spaces to an additional 250 learners each year and improve the learning environment for current students.

The plan also includes a project to support the rollout of full fibre infrastructure across the urban areas of Bedford by a private provider, helping to attract investment from private sector businesses.

Samantha Laycock, chair of the Bedford Town Deal Board, said:

“We’re over the moon that we’ve managed to secure £22.6m through our Town Investment Plan. When we developed the plan, our priority was always to deliver value for money to the people of Bedford.

“It’s really encouraging to see that central government also agree that these projects are going to deliver positive outcomes for people and help unlock the potential of Bedford with a legacy for future proofing of our town.”

Bedford Town Deal projects are required to be completed by March 2026.