Town centre regeneration | Bedford and Bedfordshire, Transforming Bedford

This is the eighth case study in One Public Estate's 'Unlocking the value in public sector assets', published in 2017.


The challenge

Bedford Borough Council is committed to the regeneration of sites in and around the south and west of Bedford town centre to bring back into use brownfield land in public ownership which is underused or has potential for improvement. The target is to develop more than 700 homes over the next five years.

The new homes and associated development delivered via OPE Transforming Bedfordshire, will represent a vital continuation of the council’s successful regeneration of Bedford Town centre in recent years. This includes the restoration of traditional shopfronts via a multi-million pound heritage-based regeneration project on Bedford’s traditional high street, a brand new bus station and a soon to be completed riverside development featuring a new public square, cinema, hotel, restaurants and more.

The vision

To continue the strategy to revitalise the Bedford town centre, building on its heritage features and reflecting its long history as a county town and its magnificent natural setting on the banks of the River Great Ouse.

Actions taken

The partnership has worked hard to ensure delivery of the vision and commit to the OPE agenda. Building on the successful PAN Bedfordshire Estates Group which has been in place for over three years, it is our intention to maximise the use of the ePims database to identify opportunities for early wins and to develop long term plans to create more efficient use of the public assets across Bedford and Bedfordshire.

Outcomes

The drive to deliver on our first year quick wins has seen success in both new homes and reductions in revenue costs. Working with our partner housing trust bpha, the police, and the NHS we have been able to release office spaces for redevelopment. The projects include:

  • housing trust offices conversion to new homes
  • hotel site development of a complex needs service well underway
  • nursing accommodation, planned conversion to new homes
  • police station disposal underway leading to new homes • medical facilities site disposal in progress leading to new homes.
  • generated capital and revenue savings by relocating the police to the Borough Hall, council offices and by relocating the bpha housing trust staff to the council’s customer service centre
  • we have also commenced the conversion of two office buildings to provide a business start-up centre and a training centre.

Through OPE support we have secured first stage approval for additional match funding of £2.33 million from the Estates and Technology Transformation Fund (ETTF) for two sites to deliver integrated health and care hubs.

Next steps

To continue to make best use of the collective partnership asset data and resources to rationalise the wider public sector assets. Using this data we are making good progress on developing shared locations and touch down areas.

The partnership is delivering real integration of health and care services through the development of four health and care hubs across Bedfordshire. This includes working with Bedford Hospital to develop the North Wing ‘Bedford Health Village’ which has great potential to deliver additional space for integrated health services and new homes.