Riverside Bedford officially opens next month – after two years of construction and many more of planning.
The ceremonial ribbon cutting at the development formerly known as Riverside North, will take place on September 1 and will be followed by a weekend of events and activities.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “It’s fantastic that people are already enjoying many of the benefits that Riverside Bedford is bringing to the town.
“These include the new public space by the river, the new river crossing and of course the restaurants, cinema and hotel.
“The attractions of Riverside Bedford will bring more people to town, benefiting existing traders, while it is also creating hundreds of new jobs. While town centres across the country are struggling due to online shopping and other trends, Riverside Bedford is bringing more investment, more jobs and even more reasons to visit and enjoy Bedford.”
Several restaurants and the Vue cinema (see page 21) have opened in the last few weeks but visitors to the town have been left confused as to what’s open.
More restaurants, cafes and bars are due to open later this year.
Paul Hutchinson, administrator for the We Are Bedford Facebook group, said: “Few people seem to be aware of what’s going on. We have had a lot of questions about the development and there doesn’t seem to be a central point where people can find information.
“The individual businesses are working hard but considering the importance that the council has stated, they don’t really seem to be doing much to promote it.
“From our perspective we want to be supportive but we believe there should be a lot more going on to make people aware of what is on offer.
“In just one week we received over 20 questions simply asking when Riverside Bedford is open.
“Places like Xscape have a website for people to go to, why don’t we have that here?
“You can see it is still in the process of completion. Only time will tell how successful it is.”
Construction on Riverside Bedford began in 2015. The first restaurant to open was MEXIco. Other options on offer include Zizzi, Wagamama, and Miller and Carter Steakhouse.