After a massive restoration project, one of Bedford’s oldest buildings and its neighbours are ready to open its doors to new tenants.
The buildings which are known as 1 to 4 St Paul’s Square have stood derelict since the 1970s, when it was proposed they were demolished.
Fortunately, that suggestion was overruled by the Government and they lay empty until restoration teams got to work bringing them back into use.
When the work began in 2014, the building at Number 1 revealed its medieval origins, with timbers dating back to about 1460. During the 18th century it was given an extra floor and its current Georgian facade.
The project was a joint effort by Bedford Borough Council and Aldwyck Housing Group, and the restoration was carried out by contractors V E Parrott.
Now Aldwyck has the keys to nine flats, which are a mix of one and two-bedrooms, and a three-bedroomed house, and is ready to pass them on to their social housing tenants.
Bedford Borough Council nominated potential tenants for the new homes and eight properties are ready to let, with the final two nearing completion.
Tenants have been made aware of the potential problems they might face living there, such as a lack of parking, internal staircases with no lifts, and its location in the town, which could leave some people feeling vulnerable.
Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “These historic buildings stood derelict for nearly fifty years, looking tired and tatty in one of Bedford’s most prominent locations.
“They are now looking suitably handsome in the heart of the town centre, thanks to this project to bring them into use and to restore and protect the site’s medieval heritage.
“We are delights to have been part of this project and to see these buildings back in use, as affordable homes.”
Funding for the renovation project came from Aldwyck’s own capital investment, a grant of £420,000 from the Homes and Communities Agency, Bedford High Street’s Townscape Heritage Initiative grant funds, and Bedford Borough Council’s Affordable Housing budget.