Small retail, food and drink units, leisure and residential for former Debenhams and Beales buildings


Bedford Borough Council say small retail, food and beverage units alongside leisure and residential could feature in former Debenhams and Beals buildings as they “continue discussions” with the owners of the buildings.

Discussions are focusing on how relevant parties can work together to progress work on the buildings in the block, known collectively as Mayes Yard.

Bedford Borough Council included Mayes Yard as a site for development in its Local Plan 2040.

Read: Bedford Debenhams store confirmed to close permanently on 4 May

Read: Beales in Bedford confirmed among 12 stores to close

It is understood the scheme could create smaller commercial units for retail, food and beverage occupiers alongside other leisure uses, with residential on the upper floors.

The area listed in the Local Plan 2040 also includes Bedford Corn Exchange, the Harpur Suite and Bedford Central Library, which the Council confirms will be improved rather than relocated to shape the approach to developing Mayes Yard.

“We are excited about the opportunity to bring this complex site back into use,” said Eoin Conway, Managing Director for Estama, acting on behalf of the owners of the former Debenhams building.

“[We] 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.”

Beales is among a number of high-profile national retailers that have gone bust, leaving large empty shops in town centres

Speaking for Panther Securities PLC, Jack Bispham, Head of Property, added,” 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.”

Mayor Dave Hodgson (Liberal Democrat) said he is “delighted” to be working with the owners of the former Beales and Debenhams sites.

“… Mayes Yard [is] 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,” he said.