Hotel Solutions completed a Hotel Futures Study for Bedford in 2014. This was an up-date of a study previously undertaken in 2009. The study sought to assess the future potential for hotel development in Bedford Borough to inform the content of the emerging Local Plan to 2032 in relation to policies on hotel development.
In line with national trends and recovery post-recession, the study found that the performance of Bedford’s hotels had turned a corner in 2014, boosted by increased activity in the film production sector as well as revitalisation of the construction industry. Bedford is set to see substantial levels of growth – 19,000 new homes, 18,000 new jobs and a population increase of 33,000. Much of this is focused on the Growth Area to the South West of the town, and in sectors that are productive for hotel roomnights. Significant improvements to transport and other infrastructure will support this growth, and create new opportunities for development, including potential hotel sites close to drivers of demand both within the town centre and around its major arterial roads and business parks.
In terms of potential in Bedford town itself, the study identified scope for boutique hotels through the conversion of suitable characterful properties or the re-positioning of existing hotels. Potential was also identified for new budget hotels in the town centre. In addition, the business parks along the A421, where much of the corporate market demand will come from, were identified as having potential for upper tier budget or 3 star hotel development.
This was a Borough-wide study that also took in a significant rural area with other demand drivers, presenting a range of potential hotel development opportunities. These included country house hotels in Rural North Bedford, given suitable properties for conversion; the opening of hotels on golf courses, and hotel accommodation associated with watersports centres, wedding venues and corporate activity centres.
Post-study Bedford has seen active interest from a number of hotel operators and developers in both town centre and out of centre locations, and the Council is using its own land holdings and planning tools to influence and steer hotel development. A 100-bedroom Premier Inn budget hotel is currently planned for the Riverside North mixed-use development scheme in the town centre.
‘The report fully met our brief, was of a high quality, and was produced within agreed timescales. We have commissioned Hotel Solutions in the past and would be happy to do so again’.
Kim Wilson, Team Leader – Planning Policy, Bedford Borough Council