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Town Centre launch of Bedford High Street regeneration

A £3million scheme to revitalise Bedford High Street will be officially launched in Bedford town centre on Wednesday 7th September.


The Bedford High Street Townscape Heritage Initiative will bring significant benefits to local businesses and residents by restoring traditional shop fronts, upgrading building facades, reinstating lost architectural details, bringing upper floors back into use as well as carrying out vital structural works. The initiative will run for five years, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Bedford Borough Council, Bedford BID and local business owners and landlords.


The launch event takes place at 58 High Street (formerly Evans) from 1.00pm until 6.30pm and will provide a wealth of information for visitors, including:


• A free guided walk along High Street called ‘Are you being served?’ by one of our Town Guides - 3pm from No. 58 High St (takes 1 hour)
• The opportunity to be transported back in time with “Victorian Dress Up” then have your photograph taken
• Learn about the history of High Street with many old photographs on view
• Come and share your memories of High Street with us and tell us how you think we should be improving it
• Talk to the THI Project Manager, Bedford BID and Bedford College over a free tea or coffee and see how the initiative will benefit local businesses and the High Street as a whole
• The scheme’s official launch by the Mayor of Bedford Borough and Chair of the THI Partnership Board, Dave Hodgson at 5.30pm.


Commenting on the official launch, Dave Hodgson, said: “It has taken two years of hard work to get to this stage but I am absolutely delighted we are now able to get the Townscape Heritage Initiative up and running. This is an extremely exciting project which will revitalise the heart of Bedford’s historic centre through the repair, reinstatement and conservation of the town’s heritage and buildings.


“This launch event offers local residents and businesses the chance to find out more about the scheme and what it can offer to them and to the borough as a whole through improving buildings on the High Street as well as offering training and new skills for local people.  High Street businesses are especially encouraged to come along and find out how it could benefit them and their business and to see if they are eligible for a building improvement grant.”


Kevin Kavanagh, Vice Chair of Bedford BID, said: “Bedford BID has been a long-standing supporter of greater investment in the High Street, which is the heart of Bedford, so were pleased to join the Council in making this project possible by offering £100,000 in funding. Through running schemes such as ‘Wipeout’, which keeps the town clear of graffiti, Bedford BID has shown its commitment to preserving the High Street as people want to see it. We are confident that this new investment will make Bedford a more appealing place to all comers.”


In addition to the physical works on the High Street, including the improvement of Luddington’s Passage and the northern passage between 99 and 101 High Street, an extensive Learning, Education and Training Programme will run during the lifetime of the project. This will include heritage interpretation, events, educational and community activities as well as heritage construction and maintenance skills training for owners, tenants, contractors, students and the general public. This means the scheme will also provide a legacy in Bedford, in addition to the improvements to the buildings.

To keep updated with the scheme, please visit the Bedford High Street pages on Bedford Borough’s website at: http://www.bedford.gov.uk/bedfordhighstreet

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