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Consultation Underway on Bedford Town Centre Plan - Have Your Say

August 23, 2019 3:18 PM

Silver Street in Bedford Town Centre on a Busy Shopping DayBedford Borough Council is writing a new Town Centre Plan and is asking people for their views on the future of our town.

Town centres across the country are changing. The internet and online shopping are permanently changing how we shop and how we use our town centre.

But Bedford has a unique story to tell: alongside our unique and beautiful river, 62% of our local retail are independent shops- a higher percentage than Cambridge; small businesses get automatic rate relief; and last year, 77 new businesses opened in the town centre. Bedford is a place to come to shop, enjoy events, culture, heritage, our local markets and much, much more.

Next summer a major redevelopment of the High Street will make our county town even more of a destination.

Now the Council is writing its new Town Centre Plan and wants to hear your ideas. This consultation aims to find out what people use the town centre for, how often they visit, and what might bring them into town more.

Drop-in sessions are being held in the town centre with a 'vision wall' inviting thoughts and ideas, staffed by members of the Council's Economic Growth & Development Team and Cllr Henry Vann, whom Mayor Dave Hodgson appointed to the new role of Portfolio Holder for Town Centres following his reelection as Mayor in May.

These responses will then feed into our Town Centre Plan, which will then be published and further feedback invited early next year.

Cllr Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centres said "Bedford has a thriving town centre, free parking on offer, loading bays for shoppers, a huge proportion of high quality independent shops and a lower rate of empty shops than most nearby towns and cities. We are the place to come whether you are a business, local resident or visitor.

"With our investment in services in the town centre, the major redevelopment of the High Street coming next summer, and ongoing business rate support the council is doing loads to support the town centre. Every lever is an option and we have lots of ideas, but now we want to hear yours!

"Bedford town centre belongs to all of us and it really is what we make it. Please respond to the consultation, come along and meet me and team at one of our drop-in sessions, and give us your thoughts."

Sam Laycock, Chair of Bedford BID said "It is crucial that Bedford continues to hold its market position whilst recognising how it needs to adapt to change; the way people use the high street is evolving. Understanding what people want and need from their town centre will be critical to the success of our town centre businesses. We strongly encourage everyone to take part and contribute to this important process of creating a new Town Centre Plan and 'have your say'."

The survey is open until Friday 27 September 2019. It is available online on the Bedford Borough Council website at https://forms.bedford.gov.uk/TCS/

There will also be paper copies available at Borough Hall, the Customer Service Centre and local libraries which can be sent to Consulting Bedford, Bedford Borough Council, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP.

The consultation is open to all, whether residents, visitors, businesses, charities, cultural and heritage organisations and others. If you have anything to add not covered in the consultation form then you can email TownCentre@bedford.gov.uk directly, write to Consulting Bedford or attend one of the consultation and engagement opportunities available.

The fist drop-in session took place this week in the Customer Service Centre in Bedford Town Centre, and further sessions are scheduled as follows:

Wednesday 28 August, 1pm - 4pm - The Higgins Bedford

Saturday 31 August, 11am-2pm - Bedford Central Library