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Boost Local Economy

Have your say on plan to boost local economy


Residents and businesses in Bedford Borough are being urged to have their say on a draft blueprint for economic growth to ensure that it reflects local needs and priorities.


Developed by Bedford Borough Council, the ‘Growth Plan 2016 – 2020’ focuses on five key themes that will help the area grow and prosper in the coming years.


These are supporting growth of start-up and existing businesses, attracting new business to the Borough, bringing forward employment sites faster, promoting the vitality of Bedford’s town centre and supporting local people into local jobs.


It also highlights a number of priority projects and programmes that can help to meet the key aims. These include the completion of the Bedford Western Bypass and Riverside North development, achieving 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage for the whole of the Borough, the planned new Marston Vale Innovation and Business Park off the A421 near Wootton, the East-West rail link joining Bedford to Oxford and Cambridge, and the development of the Fairhill employment site at the northern end of the new bypass.


Town centre projects that have been identified include further improvements to the buildings on the High Street to attract new businesses, investment in the road network, refurbishing the retail units surrounding the bus station and improving the town centre public realm.


A key focus of the plan will be to encourage businesses to remain in and grow, or to relocate to the Borough, which will in turn provide new jobs and also increase business rates income. It is estimated that significant growth in retained business rates can be achieved, subject to a continued improvement in the national economy over the period.


Demand-led skills development, closer relationships between education providers and business, as well as promoting apprenticeship opportunities, are also identified as important focus areas.


Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “Taking a strategic approach to supporting economic growth locally is crucial. Bedford Borough is a fantastic place to do business and improving our economy is a top priority.


“Now is the time for us to capitalise on the real infrastructure improvements that have been delivered and those coming through, like the Bedford Western Bypass, as we work to attract more businesses and employment to our Borough.”


Since the Borough’s first growth plan was adopted in 2013, the Council has delivered key infrastructure projects such as the redevelopment of the Bedford bus station area and partnered with owners and investors to improve town centre properties.


Significant new investment in the Borough over the past few years has included the recently completed Premier Inn Hotel and Brewers Fayre, new Iceland store at Church Lane, and the new Morrison’s supermarket, M&S Simply Food and B&Q stores. There are currently two major development schemes on site at Riverside North and the Apex Site off Wallis Way near Priory Business Park, with more in the pipeline with planning approval.


The consultation will run until 31 May. To view the proposals, please visit www.bedford.gov.uk/growthplan

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