On 21st July 2010 the Council adopted A Strategy for Bedford High Street. This document sets out an approach to regenerate and restore Bedford's High Street. The centre of shopping in Bedford has slowly shifted away from the High Street over the years. This is due to the opening of the Harpur Centre and plans in place to redevelop the bus station. The Strategy seeks to re-establish the High Street as a vibrant and central part of our town centre.
The document identifies the following objectives:
- Ensure the buildings in the historic street are brought up to appropriate standards of repair
- Enhance the appearance of the street with improved shopfronts and window frames so that it becomes more attractive
- Attract a range of specialised shops which will improve the range of shops on offer. This will help to create a reason for people to visit the town centre
- Encourage family and specialist cafes, restaurants and bars to spill out onto the street. This will help to create a welcoming environment for the whole population
- Encourage the use of the upper floors for a mixture of residential and commercial uses. This will also address the potential conflict with noise from licensed premises and air quality issues
- Review the management of the night time economy so all users feel safe to visit the High Street
- Create a traffic free environment to form an attractive pedestrian piazza
- Strengthen the links and pedestrian routes between High Street and other parts of the town centre
- Develop attractive, safe and well managed car parks in the right location. This will enable people to use the town centre 24 hours a day.
In addition the Townscape Heritage Initiative (funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund) makes grants to help communities regenerate conservation areas.
The draft strategy was published for consultation in February and March 2010.