Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone

Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone aims to enhance the Bedford Conservation Area, reducing the impact of traffic and improving the local environment.

It aspires to increase economic activity in the High Street and create heritage, cultural and community engagement activities in this area.

Bedford High Street is in the late Saxon/Medieval settlement of the town and is of considerable archaeological significance. It retains the architectural character of a prosperous market town and is enclosed by a close-knit range of fine, mainly 18th and 19th century three storey buildings with narrow facades, attractive irregular rooflines and long burgage plots which are a reflection of their medieval origins. A one-way street, it contains 14 listed buildings.

Bedford town centre faces a decline in footfall combined with the closure of national stores and a negative perception of community safety. The highest level of unemployment in the borough is in Castle Ward, where the High Street is located. Major roads and high volumes of traffic pass through the town. Bedford town centre lacks civic areas and open public spaces and reconfiguring historic buildings is a challenge.

How the Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone will help

The Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone will reinstate the high street as one of the architectural high points of the town, revealing and enhancing historic features on buildings and realising the town's potential through an improved and more inviting environment for shoppers and visitors. It will reduce traffic and bring back a sense of community to the High Street.

Stay up to date

Below you can find just some of the progress being made in the Bedford High Street Heritage Action Zone. For more, follow us on Twitter @HistoricEngland.

  • Works to the High Street are now complete with wider pavements and fewer cars, making it more pedestrian-friendly and attractive to visitors.
  • Silver Street Square has been improved and repaved with York Stone and a grant has been offered to improve four shopfronts at the Palace Chambers and the 1930’s building on the north side of the Square, creating two additional retail units.
  • Bedford has set up a cultural consortium and has been awarded £80,000 for a cultural programme to attract more visitors to the High Street. In 2021, a world-renowned illusion artist was commissioned to produce 3D illusion artwork The Vault on the Bank Site, which was a big hit with the people of Bedford.
  • Several cultural community activities have taken place in partnership with The Higgins Bedford: The 3D Goldings paper model competition, Haunted High Street and the two newest projects; Bedford’s online walking tour and the family half-term activity ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’.
  • Building improvement grants have been offered to seven properties with the Blue Monk, BBTEA and Goldings mobilising at present. Golding operated as an ironmonger from 1867 – it now has a grant to reinstate the traditional shop front and lost architectural features.

Working in partnership with

  • Bedford Borough Council

High Streets