Two multi-million pound projects, bringing investment, jobs and new opportunities to Bedford town centre will begin later this month.
The demolition of the Town Hall and the new Bedford Bus Station are the largest projects in the town centre for decades and work at both sites will start on Monday, January 27.
A ‘Bus Station Roadshow’ will take place in Church Square on Wednesday January 15 and Wednesday, January 22 to explain the interim arrangements to users - Wednesday has been chosen as it is the bus station’s busiest day of the week.
The redevelopment of the Bedford bus station area started in 2013. Work to date has included the construction of a new surface car park at Greyfriars, new public toilets and the continuing refurbishment of Allhallows multi-storey car park.
The next stage is the demolition and replacement of the bus station building. Work will start here on Monday, January 27 and be completed by the end of the year.
A spokesman for the borough said: “Demolishing the Town Hall will kick-start a process that will bring major benefits to the town centre including the reintroduction of the town centre cinema, new opportunities for riverside dining or relaxing, new jobs and a major boost for visitor numbers.
“The wider plans also include a new footbridge and an attractive new public space to feature as part of the new Riverside North development scheme. The demolition of the Town Hall also contributes towards savings of over £1 million every year.”
Work to demolish the Town Hall and neighbouring Riverside House office blocks will start on Monday, January 27. The Old Town Hall building will remain unaffected.
Mayor of Bedford, Dave Hodgson, said: “These major developments signal exciting times ahead for Bedford town centre.
“We are replacing the unloved old bus station with a brand new one as part of a wider regeneration project, while a large office block is making way for new riverside public space as part of a scheme including riverside restaurants, a cinema, river footbridge and more.
“Bedford bus station has let our town centre down for far too long and we are pleased to be making this regeneration project happen. The construction of the new bus station itself is the central feature of this scheme which will create a gateway to the town centre we can be proud of.
“The completed scheme will include the brand new bus station building, new shopfronts, refurbished multi-storey car park as well as the already completed surface car park at Greyfriars and new public toilets.
“The demolition of the Town Hall will open up the area for new links between the town centre and the river and new public space, riverside restaurants, the reintroduction of town centre cinema and much more. It will also bring new jobs and a huge increase in visitors to the town centre.
“Despite the challenging economic climate, Bedford Borough is bucking the trend and delivering major new investment and jobs and sending out the message that Bedford is open for business.”
In order to ensure the safety of the public and contractors, the bus station building and the bus bays immediately outside will be closed to the public while the work is carried out.
Maps explaining interim changes to bus stops, disabled parking and taxi ranks is now available on the council website, www.bedford.gov.uk/busstation
Information will also be available on site and in nearby bus shelters very shortly.
The council has worked closely with bus operators and user groups to co-ordinate the arrangements and the majority of bus services will continue to pick up and drop off within the bus station forecourt. Services have also been grouped together by destination.
The interim changes have maintained the number of disabled parking bays in the town centre as well as maintaining taxi ranks in prominent locations.