A charity devoted to innovation and learning is backing the bid to turn the derelict Higgins Sheds into a cutting-edge community tech hub.
The Bedford-based Marks Trust has agreed in principle to help finance and support the Higgins Sheds Group acquire the buildings and keep them for use in the town.
The sheds are part of the Higgins Museum complex and have been offered for sale as a ‘residential development opportunity” by Bedford Borough Council.
Speaking for the Higgins Sheds Group, Bridget Harris said: “The Marks Trust has really come to the rescue to make our bid credible.
“We are delighted it is willing to back our team and vision, to build something up in these buildings which will mean real jobs and opportunities, especially for young people in Bedford. And it means that the group is in a position to offer the council a real alternative to turning these historic buildings into private flats.”
The group plans to create a new centre for creative and tech industries where people can access the latest equipment and collaborate with others in an open office environment. It also has plans to incorporate a creche for working parents and support young people interested in pursuing a tech career.
Bedford is at the heart of the proposed East-West Rail link, dubbed ‘tech connected’ by The Department of Transport, which will join Oxford to Cambridge.
It is anticipated the section between Oxford and Bedford will open by December 2017.
Bedford Borough Council has committed to putting £2.6million towards the final budget along with other local authorities along the route, and the DoT.
Mrs Harris said: “These buildings are in a unique position to be something special. By starting now, Bedford will be firmly on the tech map, and will be able to hold its own against the traditional Oxbridge tech centres.”
The Marks Trust recently set up an ‘innovation centre’ in Adelaide Square, Bedford, and hopes to extend more opportunities to the community and creative sector by financing and developing the sheds.
The Higgins Sheds Group will submit a detailed bid to Bedford Borough Council on Monday, December 23.