If you’ve walked (or er… Pokemon Go’d) down the high street lately, you might’ve noticed some smartly spruced up buildings including Meatcure, Coffee with Art and Gunns Bakery.
In September 2011 the Townscape Heritage Initiative launched with the aim of restoring a number of properties on High Street thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Bedford Borough Council, Bedford BID plus landlords and business owners.
Bedford High Street is now seeing the fruits of the £4.5million investment with the completion of Meatcure at 100 High Street and the final two properties beginning to undergo their renovation.
“We have worked very closely with landlords and tenants to help them apply for grants and submit planning applications,” explains Nancy Falloon, THI Project Manager at Bedford Borough Council.
“We wanted to choose buildings in the greatest need that would make a big impact when they were renovated. We had to go back to the archives to find historic evidence for each of the conservation projects and with Meatcure (number 100) we’ve got it really, really close to what it originally looked like.”
Nancy says the project has, “Not only increased the business units on High Street but we’ve also increased the amount of town centre residential accommodation. A lot of upper floors have been converted to apartments and we’ve brought vacant properties back to life as seen at 1 – 4 St Paul’s Square.”
Alongside the transformations of the buildings, the THI team has undertaken extensive learning, training and educational and events output which engaged with the local community, local businesses and students. “We’ve done some great stuff with Bedford College, The Prince’s Trust, The Higgins and Bedfordshire Archives,” said Nancy. “This aims to be as much of a legacy as the buildings themselves to connect people with the history of the High Street and increase knowledge of appropriate skills needed to work on Bedford’s historic buildings.”
Of all the projects, Coffee with Art is Nancy’s personal favourite, she says, “It really fulfilled its potential. We brought a totally vacant property back into use and the renovation showed what could be achieved with the THI investment.”
The final project to be completed will be 77 – 79 High Street, the former Cash Converters building near the Mill Street junction. If the other properties are anything to go by, we know it will definitely be worth the wait.
For more information about the THI High Street Regeneration project, follow their Facebook page.