FOUR historical buildings in Bedford, three of which are listed, are being converted to flats after standing empty for 40 years.
Aldwyck Housing Group has recently begun work to turn numbers 1-4 St Paul’s Square into 10 new affordable flats funded by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Bedford Borough Council, and the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).
Number one St Paul’s Square, a 16th century building, has previously been used as an inn, a home, auction house, stockbrokers and most recently as the county architect’s office, while numbers 2-3 were built in the 18th century.
Number four was the last to be built as the original vicarage to St Paul’s Church.
All of the buildings trace elements of Bedford’s social and commercial history and 1 – 3 St Paul’s Square are Grade II listed because of their high heritage significance.
Keith Edwards, head of development and new business at Aldwyck Housing Group, said: “The project has shown real partnership working with a variety of agencies including Bedford Borough Council, the Ministry of Justice, and the HCA. All parties have worked together and identified appropriate funding to ensure the project can move forward.”
Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “It is fantastic that these prominent, historic buildings in the heart of Bedford town centre are being brought back into use.
“The Townscape Heritage Initiative aims to restore our historic High Street area buildings to their former glories and it is entirely fitting that we are helping to restore these buildings, not just cosmetically but in a way that will provide much-needed housing. It’s also further welcome investment in Bedford, supporting a thriving town centre.”
Bedford Borough Council’s archaeology team has commissioned the recording of the timber frame structure of number one St Paul’s Square and English Heritage will be dating a number of the historic timbers, offering the opportunity to learn more about this fascinating building.
The buildings play a key part in Bedford High Street and St Paul’s Square’s ‘townscape’ and it is also hoped that bringing them back into use will help to bring further growth and development to the southern end of the High Street.
The works are being carried out by a local building firm, VE Parrott (Oakley) Ltd.
To facilitate the development, Aldwyck Housing Group has been permitted to use the former bank site next to the town bridge. This area has been fenced off during the construction works. The cycle and motorcycle parking will not be available during the works but maps have been displayed showing the location of alternative parking areas. Access to the river is unaffected.