The Conservative run Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive has today (Tuesday, June 7) released £3.46million of its Market Towns Regeneration Fund scheme to Town Councils in a decision which will unlock a total investment of more than £7million in economic development and rejuvenation programmes.
The Council will share out £2.46million of the Market Towns Regeneration Fund to support projects from eight authorities in Ampthill, Dunstable, Flitwick, Houghton Regis, Leighton-Linslade, Potton, Sandy and Shefford and will work in partnership with those Town Councils to deliver the various improvement schemes by March 2018. This funding boost will also be matched by an investment from the eight authorities, totalling £2.9million.
These projects – which include heritage trails, improved signage, a new splash park and café, cycling racks and market stalls – will enhance the vibrancy of their town centres, help support economic growth and act as a catalyst for wider ongoing investment, employment and development in the key market towns and communities across Central Bedfordshire.
The bids – from a total of 11 submissions – best fit the funding criteria of being deliverable, showing a clear vision of business, economic, social and cultural impacts and good return on investment.
The Executive today also approved a new strand of £1million, set aside from the Market Towns Regeneration Fund, to develop an area-wide High Street Improvement Scheme. This was done in response to seven Town Councils that identified, within their bids, ambitions to improve town centre shop fronts and tackling vacant retail units.
It is intended that this High Street Improvement Scheme – which will be available to Central Bedfordshire's 11 market towns – will launch by the end of this month and fund up to 60 per cent of required works with 40 per cent from private and other public sector sources.
Cllr Nigel Young, Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “The Market Towns Regeneration Fund scheme is an exciting new programme that provides significant opportunities to rejuvenate our market towns, at a time when very few other authorities are investing in town centres. Our partnership approach with the Town Councils is also critical to the success of these projects and we are now looking forward to continuing these relationships to ensure delivery.
“By also setting aside £1million from the Market Towns Regeneration Fund to form a High Street Improvement Scheme we have also responded to the needs of Town Councils, many of whom outlined proposals in their bids to enhance their main shopping areas. This will help these important retail locations to thrive and grow and further contribute to making Central Bedfordshire and great place to live and work.”