Bedford awarded £2 million historic high street fund

St Paul's Church and Bedford Town Bridge 1929. Author Aerofilms Ltd.. Source: Historic England Archive
St Paul's Church and Bedford Town Bridge 1929. Author Aerofilms Ltd.. Source: Historic England Archive

Bedford is to receive £2 million as part of a bid to transform disused and historic buildings into shops, houses and community centres.

The fund is a share of £95 million being used to help revive historic high streets across the UK.

Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “This is an outstanding achievement by the council team and we have worked hard to ensure that Bedford’s bid for the High Street Heritage Action Zone was chosen.

“This shows confidence in our vision for regenerating Bedford as the High Street is a key element of our plans to create a more vibrant, thriving town centre despite the challenge high streets are facing nationally.

“Working with Historic England and local partners this funding will help us bring about real physical improvements to the appearance of our important streets and buildings.”

Bedford high street. Author Patricia Payne. Copyright: Historic England Archive

Online shopping habits have put high streets across the country under growing pressure and this fund is designed to help high streets adapt to changing consumer habits.

The investment will turn empty and underused buildings into creative spaces, offices, retail outlets and housing.

The hope is that will support wider regeneration by attracting future commercial investment.

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan announced the fund saying the £95 million will be shared between 69 towns across the country.

“Our nation’s heritage is one of our great calling cards to the world, attracting millions of visitors to beautiful historic buildings that sit at the heart of our communities.

“It is right that we ensure these buildings are preserved for future generations but it is important that we make them work for the modern world.

The funding has come from £40 million from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund and £52 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Street Fund.

A further £3 million will be provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and used for a cultural programme to celebrate the life and history of UK high streets.

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