BedfordshireLive will see Reach return to a county it exited in 2018 after the weekly Bedfordshire Midweek became unsustainable in print.
It will operate as a standalone website, with a team of four added to the newsroom operation which oversees Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Essex to focus just on Bedfordshire, says the company.
At the same time, Reach has confirmed it will launch PeterboroughLive as a digital brand within CambridgeshireLive, with one new reporter being hired. It will give CambridgeshireLive a full countywide service for the first time.
Last month, Reach announced it was launching BuckinghamshireLive, while in the summer the company launched sites in Hampshire, Sussex and Northamptonshire. HertsLive, serving Hertfordshire, launched in the spring also.
The company has also launched digital brands in Northumberland, Cumbria, Sunderland, Durham, Yorkshire, Bolton, Bury, Wigan, Salford, Chesterfield, Mansfield, Truro, Exeter, Torbay, Brighton, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Hertfordshire and Newport. This brings the total number of brands in the live network to 40 to date.
David Higgerson, chief audience officer at Reach, said: “Launching in Bedfordshire is something we have had an eye on for a while, and we feel it’s a county which will embrace our style of local journalism, which aims to inform and involve readers every day.
“Peterborough is an area where we have seen strong organic growth to our Cambridgeshire-wide coverage so it’s an obvious next step to put full-time roles to work with a population which is growing rapidly.
“For local news to be sustainable, it needs to be popular and appreciated by readers. Our approach of putting readers at the heart of every decision we make in newsrooms has helped our brands grow quickly, with loyal reader numbers outpacing overall growth across the country.”
David Bartlett, audience and content director London and the South East, said: “The launch of BedfordshireLive is incredibly exciting and I’m delighted we are returning to the county with a fresh approach for readers.
“We started to focus on Peterborough more a couple of years ago when we launched CambridgeshireLive. This additional investment will deepen our commitment to one of England’s great cities.
“People in Peterborough can look forward to being even better served and we can’t wait to recruit to take our coverage to the next level.”