Through the Transporting Bedford project, Bedford's High Street is set have a high quality regeneration makeover, becoming one lane only for traffic permanently and creating more space for shoppers and pedestrians.
Bedford's High Street has been one lane for a number of months now, with temporary barriers put in place to help people social distance during the coronavirus pandemic.
This new, permanent scheme will see a different road layout with wider pavements on both sides of the road. Works will be starting in February with the improvements expected to be complete by the end of November 2021.
Works will be undertaken in stages so that the whole road will not be closed at once and the work is being carefully planned with businesses to maintain access. The length of the road from St Peters Street to Mill Street will be closed from February until July, with this length then re-opened and the southern half of the street down to the Embankment then closing. Signed diversions will be in place.
As part of these works, permanent loading and short-term parking bays will be installed to help shops along the High Street function and to attract shoppers, wider pavements will be created using high quality York paving and granite kerbstones, and the 20mph speed limit will be enforced by average speed cameras.
Councillor Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centres said "After the year that was 2020, we hope that this High Street regeneration project will help give a long-term boost to our town centre. The temporary one-lane has already been welcomed by local businesses. With improved air quality, less traffic, better access to businesses, and less noise we hope this will support our High Street shops and restaurants, improve accessibility and open up the street scene, creating a great atmosphere where people want to spend more time, support their town centre and come visit from elsewhere. By taking non-stopping traffic out of town and encouraging motorists that just use the High Street as a through-route to go another way, the High Street will become a nicer place to spend time, while improvements to well-known congestion hotspots via the Transporting Bedford project are helping to ease congestion through our town. We are continuing to work with businesses down the High Street to minimise the impact on them as much as we can, and we thank everyone for their continued support for local businesses, and their patience and understanding as we carry out these exciting works for the future of our High Street."
Samantha Laycock, Chair of the Love Bedford Business Improvement District said "The BedfordBID welcome this largest ever investment in Bedford's roads continuing to demonstrate the commitment being shown in the town adding to the recent announcements of the Town Investment Plan project and High Street Heritage Action Zone initiative to help future proof the town and businesses for the years ahead."
Judith Barker, Director of Programmes and Governance at SEMLEP said "During this time it's particularly important that we keep supporting and investing in our town centres, our infrastructure and in our businesses. We're pleased to see works commence in the High Street which will bring improvements to the town centre."
This project is part of Transporting Bedford, an £18million project to tackle congestion hotspots in Bedford, funded by both Bedford Borough Council and £15.5M funding from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), through the Local Growth Fund and represents the largest ever investment in Bedford's roads. It has also helped secure an additional £1.76 million worth of investment from Historic England, backed by SEMLEP and Bedford BID, which will help improve shop fronts and bring unused spaces back into use.
For further information, please visit www.bedford.gov.uk/HighStreetroadworks