Monthly column: A vision of our town centre’s future

Bedford town centre. Image: Bedford Borough Council
Bedford town centre. Image: Bedford Borough Council

What do you think of when you think of Bedford Borough?

For a lot of readers, it will surely be the River Great Ouse, a fantastic asset that is at the heart of what makes our part of the world so beautiful all year round.

For others, it will be our superb green spaces. Is there anywhere that has such beautiful parks and nature reserves as we do?

And I’m sure many people will have their own suggestions – our history and heritage, the markets, our many vibrant communities, or the remarkable number of successful sportspeople who have come from here. The list goes on. Just don’t ask me to choose!

But many great ideas do not make a plan, which is why the council has agreed to our new vision statement for Bedford and Kempston’s town centres: “Creating town centres that people are proud to live in and excited to visit.”

What does that mean for ordinary people across the borough? Quite simply, we want to revitalise our town centres into vibrant hubs, with shopping, services for the community, leisure, cultural, business and residential spaces.

We want to have distinctive quarters that reflect our fantastic history, heritage, and culture. Connectivity will be improved – particularly when it comes to helping people discover some of our hidden gems.

Our plan is to allocate £10 million towards that goal, with a series of short, medium and long-term projects. And that money will be in addition to the other projects and investments that have taken place or are continuing to take place.

I’ll continue to share details of our plans over the coming months, and we’ll continue to work with businesses and residents to ensure that you can have ownership of our future too.

This is an exciting time to shape the future, with the role that town centres play in people’s lives having changed everywhere over the last couple of decades.

With vision, boldness, and a belief in our borough, we can ensure that these remain places that people are proud of, and where they want to live, work, shop and spend time.

This is a monthly guest column provided by elected
Mayor Tom Wootton (Conservative). It is published unedited and
does not reflect the views of the Bedford Independent.

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