Bedford Borough Council is continuing its discussions with property owners about the future of the former Beales and former Debenhams sites in Bedford Town Centre.
Whilst discussions are at an early stage these positive talks are an indication of a shared commitment to improve Bedford Town Centre together. The conversations are focusing on understanding how the relevant parties can work together to progress work on the buildings in the block – known as Mayes Yard.
Bedford Borough Council has included Mayes Yard as a site for development in its Local Plan 2040 and is considering how a scheme could potentially create smaller commercial units for retail or food/beverage occupiers, other leisure uses and residential opportunities on the upper floors.
The site listed in the Local Plan 2040 also includes Bedford Corn Exchange, the Harpur Suite and Bedford Central Library, though the Council has confirmed that these sites will be improved rather than relocated as a result of these plans. These key community and cultural facilities will be a central component of the approach being considered for Mayes Yard.
Dave Hodgson, elected Mayor of Bedford Borough, said: “We are delighted to be continuing our work with the owners of the former Beales and Debenhams sites to bring together plans for an exciting new town centre offer. Our positive approach to economic development has helped us to work effectively with the building owners to help understand how we can make Mayes Yard an attractive and viable development opportunity and we look forward to holding further conversations and sharing more information publicly as soon as possible as we bring this project to fruition."
Jack Bispham, Head of Property from Panther Securities PLC, said: “We are happy to be able to work collaboratively with the Council and other stakeholders to hopefully be bringing forward a viable development in what we feel is a key site for the town. We have high hopes for Bedford and it is a real positive that there is such an ambitious administration keen to engage with us in these early stages.”
Eoin Conway, Managing Director for Estama, acting on behalf of the owners of the former Debenhams building commented: “Bedford Borough Council have been proactive and supportive in working with us to identify a way forward for the former Debenhams building in Bedford Town Centre. We are excited about the opportunity to bring this complex site back into use and feel in working with the Council and other stakeholders, we can collaborate to deliver a high-quality and long-term sustainable scheme that benefits Bedford Town Centre.”
While there is still lots more to discuss and plan, these conversations represent a positive step in the right direction for this important town centre location. The opportunity to capitalise on the site’s central location, proximity to the Embankment, the leisure hub at Riverside Bedford, the cultural hub around The Higgins Bedford and St. Pauls, as well as the Bedford Town Deal projects, could yield a variety of exciting opportunities for the Mayes Yard site.