Harpur Centre Bedford, UKBack to Our Work
The refurbishment breathes new life into the Harpur Centre – and provides a contemporary shopping destination and experience for all its visitors.
Bedford is a town steeped in history dating back as far as the Saxons. The historic medieval street pattern is comprised of noticeable buildings and structures, including ancient sites like the castle mound, the surviving King’s Ditch, and the bridges crossing the River Great Ouse.
The Harpur Centre sits within Bedford town centre north of the river. It was home to Bedford Modern School before the majority of the building was demolished in 1970 to make way for the shopping centre in its current guise.
The school’s east facade was designed by Edward Blore, who is most notable for his work on Buckingham Palace. It was retained and is Grade II* listed, sitting within a conservation area defined by its medieval origins and collection of Georgian and Victorian architecture.
The facade is well-known and well-regarded by Bedford residents, so a key component of our design was to safeguard and enhance the area’s distinctive character and appearance.
The changes will transform the centre’s environment, opening up the space in the heart of the centre.
The Harpur Centre is over 200,000 sq. ft, including 37 retail units, a customer car park and an office block. It’s also connected to the neighbouring Howard Centre and associated multistorey car park. While the centre was well let, it needed modernisation – the internal spaces felt dated and dark, and the basement had a spiral ramp, making the car park inaccessible to many customers.
The proposals look to modernise the internal spaces, providing a welcoming, light, bright shopping area, while improving access to the basement retail units and car park.
Corstorphine & Wright obtained planning permission for the change of use of some units, as well as the external re-facading of both the Midland Road and Horne Lane elevations. The internal refurbishment is complete along with the new entrance to Midland Road. The external facade will form part of a later phase of works, which will also include adding further retail space to the units on Midland Road and providing interest to the elevation on Midland Road.
The basement has been transformed, providing a new gym as well as space for people to sit and dwell.
At ground floor level, we have opened up the mall areas by increasing the mall height where possible, opening up the skylights and removing the ramp in the centre, replacing it with a lift and stair.
This has allowed light to flood in from the skylight above, and also gives better access to the basement shops and car park. New wayfinding has been installed throughout the centre, utilising the new branding and giving the space a fresh, contemporary feel.
The internal refurbishment has given the shopping centre a new lease of life. The space is brighter, lighter and more attractive to both customers and retailers.
Harpur Centre in Bedford was shortlisted for the REVO Gold Awards ‘Refresh’ category in October 2019.