Town Gets Major Funding

Published on 30 January 2015


Major plans to transform Bedford town centre have been given a major boost thanks to multi-million pound funding secured by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership.

The investment forms part of the second round of funding delivered by the Government’s Local Growth Deal, with the windfall being used to help kickstart a total of 10 projects across the South East Midlands.

Among the projects in Bedfordshire to benefit from the Local Growth Deal funding is major regeneration work in Bedford town centre which would see the building of Batts Ford bridge to ease traffic congestion.

Dr Ann Limb OBE DL, Chair of SEMLEP said “I am delighted that SEMLEP has received £46.7m as part of the Local Growth Deal round 2. This will build on the £79.3m received in round 1 and help to deliver yet more jobs and new homes.

“The projects build on the strengths of our area as identified in our Strategic Economic Plan investing in key sectors including advanced engineering and the cultural and creative sector to deliver highly skilled jobs.”

Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson said: “This is a huge boost for our project to deliver a comprehensive decongestion plan for Bedford town centre, featuring the much-needed new road bridge river crossing. 

“We knew that the bid we made, via SEMLEP with its support, made a powerful case for the project and the benefits it will deliver for future economic growth in Bedford town centre.  We are delighted that the government has recognised those benefits and is making this major contribution, via SEMLEP, to our efforts to bring the project forward.”

Other projects in Bedfordshire to benefit from the Local Growth Deal funding include plans to create an Advanced Electrical Design and Electronics Centre at Bedford College, while cash has also been provisionally earmarked for the Marston Vale Innovation Park.

Funds have provisionally been made available for work to improve links between the M1 and the A6 at Sundon Park Road.

Significant funding has also been earmarked for Cranfield University to allow the development of an open innovation facility for the integrated development of autonomous transport vehicles and related complex intelligent systems.

Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University said: “I am delighted that SEMLEP has secured a further package of investment for the South East Midlands through the Local Growth Deal. 

“The construction of an open innovation test facility at Cranfield will assist the UK in becoming a global leader in autonomous transport systems. This investment is planned to create 950 jobs by 2020/21 and develop the skills of over 500 professional learners.”

Meanwhile, an infrastructure project at Milbrook will create a high quality centre of excellence for innovative automotive research, development and small scale production enabling more companies to be located on site, creating a significant number of highly skilled jobs within the automotive engineering and technology sectors.

Alex Burns, Chief Executive of Millbrook Proving Ground said: “The investment in Millbrook Proving Ground will create a high quality centre of excellence for innovative automotive research and small scale production enabling more companies to be located on site.

“This will create around 60 highly skilled jobs initially within the automotive engineering and technology sectors with significantly more to follow with the extensive development planned for this site.”

As part of the wider Local Growth Deal funding, up to 5,000 new jobs will be created and 1,000 new homes built thanks to a £46.7million investment secured by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership.

www.semlep.com

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