The town skyline lit up on November 30th with the official opening of the new look tower at the Bedford College riverside campus.
The £12.6m project has seen the re-purposing and regeneration of a 1959 building into a shining centre for Health Sciences and Digital Skills. It will mean a further 250 students can be added to the 4,000 who are already linked to the campus and who, together with staff, bring vital footfall into the town centre.
Part of the funding: £3 Million, came from the Bedford Town Deal which won £22.6 Million from the Government towards rejuvenating the town centre.
Samantha Laycock, Chair of the Bedford Town Deal Board and Manager for the Harpur Centre, said:
“This is our first project within the Town Deal reaching completion. It will help local people develop and refine their skills for future employment in areas where employers say there is a need. It increases the curriculum and student capacity whilst also benefitting the existing learners and environment.
“The new entrance leading to the riverside bridge is already working well to connect Bedford College to the town centre and its businesses.”
Encouraging access to learning
Councillor Andrea Spice, portfolio holder for Town Centres and Planning at Bedford Borough Council, expressed the council’s dedication to creating investment opportunities. Emphasising the importance of equipping individuals with the necessary skills, she highlighted the alignment of the council’s vision with that of the Town Deal:
“The government funding is playing a crucial role in empowering people to enhance their prospects and pursue the opportunities they rightfully deserve.
“This investment in Bedford College’s campus will widen the breadth of the local skills offer and will be designed flexibly to encourage access to learning.
“It’s also great to see the new lights making the building even more visible from the Riverside area. I look forward to seeing even more projects come into fruition soon.”
The refurbishment of the existing tower’s 5,000 square metres is an example of The Bedford College Group’s commitment to becoming a net zero organisation with retro-fitting and innovative carbon-cutting technologies.
The Group has reduced its carbon emissions by 633 tonnes since 2018-19, which, if a quarter of a tonne of carbon equates to 5,000 cubic feet, we have saved the equivalent of emissions from over 2,500 buses.
New Chief Executive of The Bedford College Group Yiannis Koursis said:
“I’m delighted that these redevelopments have ensured that the centre now has an EPC rating of B and demonstrates cutting-edge carbon reduction technologies including heat pumps that connect to our innovative river water heating and cooling system; ultra-efficient mechanical heating and ventilation and high-grade thermal insulation, windows and cladding.”
“Extensive work has been carried out to modernise our facilities, so we now offer high-quality teaching and learning spaces equipped with the latest technologies, helping an additional 250 students achieve their ambitions through to University and employment.
“In Bedford, we sit within the heart of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc and a short distance to London. We are ideally placed to see our students progress, with the skills that they have learnt here, to flourish in world class companies
“These students will also contribute to the local economy over their working life. As well as focusing on improving the skills of the young people within Bedford and the surrounding area, refurbishing this building on Cauldwell Street also supports the regeneration of the town centre by providing a much-improved aspect to the riverside landscape.
“The new configuration of the building now includes a new public entrance on the north aspect allowing entrance direct from the pedestrian bridge across the River Great Ouse, improving access from the bus and rail stations in the town.”