Investing in the heart of Flitwick, while supporting local businesses and the community, is behind a series of improvement initiatives totalling £1.8million to help rejuvenate the town centre, as part of Central Bedfordshire Council’s £4million Market Town Regeneration Fund.
An enhancement programme will see improved public spaces, the High Street decluttered and improvements made to the Kings Road and Station Road areas, while introducing new lighting and planting to provide a more welcoming environment.
The initiatives may also include the installation of artwork around the railway bridge or other public art – to encourage footfall to shops and businesses bisected by the train line – and will fund an enhanced library service. This is aimed at developing the cultural, visitor and night time economy by building on the Council’s innovative Library as Laboratory project that brought comedy, cocktails, music and more to the Coniston Road space for one weekend in 2016.
With town councils providing 50 per cent match funding for the initiatives, the Market Town Regeneration Fund aims to enhance the vibrancy of market towns and promote their wider role in shaping and supporting economic growth, particularly supporting those areas facing pressures of population growth.
Across Central Bedfordshire, it is expected that more than 30 Market Town Regeneration Fund projects in seven towns will unlock a total investment of more than £7million in economic development and rejuvenation programmes.
The Flitwick projects will also align with the Council’s recently announced proposals to regenerate a major brownfield site adjacent to the railway station. This will create new retail facilities and homes, alongside major improvements to transport infrastructure through the creation of a public transport interchange centred on the railway station with improvements to car parking facilities.
Members of the public can have their say on both the Market Town Regeneration Fund and brownfield site regeneration projects in Flitwick when a joint consultation begins in early summer.
Jason Longhurst, Central Bedfordshire Council Director for Regeneration and Business, said: “The Market Town Regeneration Fund initiative provides significant opportunities to rejuvenate our market towns, at a time when very few other authorities are investing in town centres.
“Along with plans to regenerate the area around the railway station and improve the retail offer, we are committed to improving the overall experience of visiting Flitwick and make it a town centre that local people and visitors want to shop and spend time in, both during the day and evenings.
“Backed by the continuing work we are delivering in areas of regeneration, business support, employment and skill, these projects will enhance the vibrancy of Flitwick, help support economic growth and act as a catalyst for wider ongoing investment, employment and development.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Town Council, who will take ownership of each programme’s delivery, to ensure that Flitwick and Central Bedfordshire as a whole reap the benefits brought by some standout initiatives.”
Shops and businesses across Central Bedfordshire will also soon discover who will be awarded grants for up to 60 per cent of total costs of shop front and vacant unit improvements after the final round of bidding closed this month for a slice of the £1million High Street Improvement Scheme.
More information on the Market Town Regeneration Fund projects are available at: www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/market-towns