AECOM to develop Bedford’s Town Investment Plan

LONDON (1 July, 2020) – AECOM, the world’s premier infrastructure firm has been appointed by Bedford Borough Council to develop a Town Investment Plan as part of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) new £3.6 billion Towns Fund initiative which supports the economic growth of towns.

Working closely with the council, AECOM will explore the components needed to redevelop and enhance long-term economic growth within Bedford Town Centre. The Town Investment Plan put together by AECOM will help Bedford Borough Council secure up to £25 million of funding. The team will focus on proposals that drive long term economic and productivity growth through investment in connectivity, land use, economic assets, skills and infrastructure.

The governments £3.6 billion initiative will give 100 local authorities across the UK, the chance to regenerate their town centres. With the UK high street constantly evolving due to a wide range of consumer expectations, the rise in online shopping and market trends, town centres have faced a gradual decline in footfall, jobs and overall visits. Limited transport facilities and poor broadband connectivity have also contributed to the economic decline within the area. Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, these challenges have heightened significantly and placed even more pressure on the future of town centres.

Dave Widger, AECOM’s Regional Director for Economic Development, said: “Traditional town centres no longer exist. Communities across the country want and need much more than a ‘just’ a shopping trip.

“This vital funding from the MLCHG is a major step forward for Bedford town centre. Not only will it drive huge economic growth and create a number of opportunities for local residents but also leave a lasting legacy for Bedford.”

Cllr Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centres at Bedford Borough Council said “Through the Town Deal Board we are working with local organisations and partners to develop a Town Centre Investment Plan that really brings out the best in our town, making it a thriving place to visit, live and work. While town centres across the country – including our own – are facing huge challenges, in Bedford our incredible heritage, culture, diversity, beautiful riverside, strong independent businesses, local communities and people will create the vibrant, thriving future in store for our Town Centre.”

Samantha Laycock, appointed Chair of the Town Deal Board said, “It has been fantastic to create a board of Bedford’s key stakeholders who all share the passion for our town centre’s future. We are all looking forward to working with AECOM’s skilled team closely to produce a sustainable investment plan.”