Revealed: Plans to "transform" Bedford High Street

Plans to revamp Bedford High Street by reducing traffic to one lane and create more space for shoppers have been unveiled by the borough council today.
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Mayor Dave Hodgson said the major improvement scheme was a way to “buck the trend” of town centres struggling to survive.

He said: “The High Street transformation will bring real improvements to residents, shoppers, businesses and visitors to Bedford as well as helping to improve the road network for cyclists, bus users and drivers.”

He added: “The transformation will see wider pavements with new high qualityYork stone paving, new loading and parking bays, a new junction arrangement at The Embankment and improvements to traffic flows.”

But the reaction from residents on social media was sceptical.

One critic wrote: “Don’t really need to create more space for shopping because it’s a ghost town now. But it certainly needs a good clean up. Next time you drive down the High Street look up above the shops - it’s actually so dirty and to think that is our main road through our town.”

Another posted: “Oh dear, oh dear, even more traffic around the town centre. The traffic from St John's roundabout up to Prebend Street and over the bridge at South Wing is dreadful and is getting worse. Why they can't let private cars into the mostly empty bus lane during peak hours is beyond me. You have to queue in the congested right hand lane before you can take the left side after the crossing and over the bridge to South Wing.”

Others believed empty shops in the pedestrianised areas of town should be filled before the high Street was improved.

Artist's impression of the new planArtist's impression of the new plan
Artist's impression of the new plan

“We have loads of shops empty on Midland road and the Harpur Centre so who in their right mind would locate to the high street either now or after these daft improvements?” they asked.

The transformation of the High Street is part of Transporting Bedford 2020.

Mayor Dave said: “As town centres up and down the county struggle in the face of online competition, high rents, business rates and parking charges, this investment is seen as a way to buck the trend and create a safer and more attractive visitor experience.”