Sandy's Market Town Regeneration Fund initiatives
Developing a heritage mosaics trail
The Story in Stone mosaic trail will help promote the history and heritage of Sandy, but also the linking in with neighbouring towns of Biggleswade and Potton, to new and established local residents, walkers on the Greensands Ridge and green wheels, passing traffic on the A1, visitors and shoppers to the new London Road retail park. It is hoped that the trail will help promote the route between the towns, the RSPB as a visitor attraction and strengthen tourism in the area. All three towns have a great deal of history, however much of this is not publicised or immediately evident. The mosaics will help promote the history of the town and increase footfall from tourists visiting the area. A community workshop will be run for the duration of the project and accessed by schools, community groups, and businesses.
Improving town centre public realm
This will provide a friendly welcome for visitors unfamiliar with the area, highlighting aspects of the town such as the Shannon Court shops and businesses, the Story in Stone mosaic trail, town council office, park, the car park and public toilets.
Signage in the car park will map out the town and list all shops / businesses, while lamp post signage will be used to promote events and business.
The Market Place paving will be resurfaced as the current paving is cracked, uneven and unattractive. It is proposed that the area be resurfaced with golden gravel to improve accessibility and the visual environment.
Installing a covered market for traders
A small, covered market stand / band stand will be installed which could house 2 - 3 market stalls and offer the potential to showcase live music at weekends or town events. In addition, strings of lights will be installed in the Market Place trees. The aim of these installations is to create an environment in the centre of Sandy that people will want to stay in, making use of the local coffee shops, pubs and visiting the various retail outlets.
Record visitor numbers
The Story in Stone mosaic project will also create a separate residents and tourism survey to measure impact and level of satisfaction. An illustrated book will be published recording the project.
Sandy’s history dates from pre-Roman times and two impressive hill forts can be seen. Beginning as a village, it has been a centre for the market garden industry of Bedfordshire for over 400 years, but the introduction of a railway line in 1850 provided easier access to the London markets, so the village grew into a little country town. Forming a backdrop to the town are the low range of greensand hills with mixed woodland, parklands and heath land and amongst the agricultural lands flows the River Ivel. It is an ideal place to enjoy a number of picturesque country walks.
Sandy retains that distinctive country lifestyle but with the added benefit of easy access to the main commercial centres of London, Stevenage, Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough. A number of long distance walks pass through the town and it has access to National Cycle Route 51, from Milton Keynes to Sandy via Bedford, which is part of the Oxford to Cambridge Cycleway. The Riddy local nature reserve on the banks of the River Ivel has proven to be more environmentally important than anticipated and forms part of the attractive river walk.
Within a short distance of the town centre are the important tourist attractions of the Lodge – headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Today, there are around 12,500 residents in Sandy; but two major new housing developments mean that the town’s population is increasing, so these initiatives are aimed at promoting the town centre to new residents and visitors, while attracting existing residents.