Bedford Town Centre Transport Study & Public Realm Framework
SYSTRA was commissioned by Bedford Borough Council to review and support ambitions to enhance Bedford High Street. SYSTRA produced an Urban Design and Public Realm Framework for the town in support of a Business Case for improvements to Bedford High Street, to be submitted to the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP). The Urban Design and Public Realm Framework assessed the current context of the town centre in terms of Policy background and physical layout, identifying assets and constraints to the movement and place network. Examples of successful street enhancements from the UK and abroad were identified along with a number of objectives for the future town centre public realm that inform a deliverable Framework. The framework was informed by a stakeholder workshop with key Officers and a Pedestrian Environment Review System Audit of the town centre, identifying where improvements to the walking environment was completed.
As part of the Economic Case for this package of measures, we made use of TfL’s Valuing Urban Realm Toolkit (VURT) to quantify the total monetary benefits of the urban realm improvement scheme. This process involved undertaking PERS audits and commissioning pedestrian counts to assess the scale of improvements and number of people likely to be affected by them. We then used VURT to calculate the journey quality benefits for current and new users of the scheme. It is recognised that VURT is based on London-specific values and research, so to account for this, the difference in Gross Disposable Household Income between London and Bedford was applied to the monetary values produced. The latest WebTAG values of time and discount values were also applied to provide the total monetary benefits over the full appraisal period, consistent with other monetised impacts being presented in the Economic Case.