Bedford Borough Council wants to hear from residents as the next phase of the Local Plan 2040 consultation begins.
Local Plans set out where growth and development will take place – everything from homes and jobs to schools and infrastructure.
While the Local Plan 2030 was approved in January 2020, some policies need updating earlier than normal to keep them in line with national policies, for example, related to the Government’s new formula for housing growth, and the Oxford to Cambridge Arc.
This consultation is asking for residents’ views on a development strategy to 2040 and where growth can be delivered.
Government guidance sets out a standard method for calculating future housing requirements, which the Council must follow.
As a result of the government’s recent revisions to the standard method, the figure for Bedford borough currently is 1,275 dwellings per year, giving a total of 25,500 dwellings for the 20 year period from 2020 to 2040. This is the current starting point for the local plan housing requirement.
Last year, the Council asked for residents’ thoughts about the different locations where growth might occur. These have fed into four short-listed options focused on the urban area, the A421 corridor and existing and planned rail stations. Three of these include one or two new settlements at Little Barford and Wyboston.
The aims of the plan are that by the end of 2040, the borough will have become a greener, more sustainable, more attractive and prosperous place to live.
The vision of Bedford Borough 2040:
- Tackling climate change and adapting to and mitigating its effects will be at the heart of new development throughout the borough, including facilitating sustainable food production.
- Well-planned growth supported by appropriate infrastructure and avoiding areas of high flood risk will enable the creation of strong, safe and resilient local communities in environments that facilitate healthy and independent living for all.
- Sustainable development and transport, the use of sustainable and renewable energy technology, green infrastructure and new green spaces will all contribute to reducing the borough’s carbon footprint and securing a net-gain in both biodiversity and environmental quality.
- The development of East-West Rail through Bedford will be complete. Bedford will benefit from a new town centre railway hub with direct links to Oxford and Cambridge, increasing connectivity, investment and growth.
- As a requirement of the planning process, local development will be well served by the provision of up-front transport links and speedy internet access.
- Bedford Borough will continue to attract new business through the completion of significant infrastructure projects in and close to the borough and through the development of high-quality commercial and office spaces.
- Greater connectivity will have a positive impact on the local economy attracting high tech employment sectors, creative industries and supporting existing retail centres.
- In Bedford town centre a wide range of uses will provide greater variety and a broader visitor experience that will make the town centre more diverse and sustainable.
- Improvements to the High Street will make it a more enjoyable place, where local independent retailers thrive and people choose to linger. The development of previously planned vibrant new town neighbourhoods will be complete, widening housing choices in and close to the town centre, and transforming brownfield sites on the western side of the town and south of the river.
- Additional town centre living will encourage sustainable 12 methods of travel, enhance the vitality and viability of the town centre and support for local businesses.
- The town centre will be used increasingly as a community space, accessible to residents in the town, the borough and beyond.
- Good design will help to improve quality of life and to create safer, vibrant and more sustainable places, both in the urban area of Bedford and Kempston and in the surrounding village communities.
- More walkable neighbourhoods that can include schools, health facilities, community halls, green spaces and other services will be in place.
- The borough’s built heritage and wider historic environment will continue to be respected, protected and valued.
- Development will be sensitively planned to complement the borough’s natural environment. The borough’s countryside, its intrinsic character and beauty including areas of tranquil retreat will be recognised.
- Rural communities will embrace appropriate development, in many instances through the preparation of their own neighbourhood plans. This development will reflect each area’s unique local character whilst providing and supporting much-needed housing and employment, rural facilities and services, including high-speed broadband and public transport.
- Locally important green spaces and valued local landscapes will be protected and enjoyed by all.
- The Embankment and formal Victorian parks in Bedford, along with the River Great Ouse valley and its riverside villages, will continue to form the backbone of the borough’s rich green and blue infrastructure.
- There will be new multi-functional green spaces to complement and expand the existing network of paths and green corridors. Country parks north of Brickhill, west of Bedford and in the new town centre neighbourhoods will have matured and along with the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway will encourage healthy lifestyles, tourism and a diverse ecology.
- The Forest of Marston Vale will continue to grow and mature, transforming the landscape. Together with the completed Bedford River Valley Park this part of the borough will be transformed through new leisure opportunities, encouraging increased visitor numbers. The development at Stewartby Brickworks will be complete, forming a new community on the old brickmaking site, celebrating its heritage.
More details and maps are available on the Council’s website.
This consultation is also asking for views on town centre and retail policies, and updated policies looking at impact on the environment, the quality of development and self and custom build homes.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “Please take a look at the information on our website, and take this opportunity to have your say on the future of your Borough.
“We are asking for your views on where houses and jobs should be, policies around the future of town centres and much more. This won’t be your last opportunity to have your say on the Local Plan 2040, but we want to hear from as many people as possible to help us plan for the future together.”
The full consultation paper, a summary leaflet, and a set of FAQs about the paper can be seen at bedford.gov.uk/localplan2040.
The summary leaflet will be delivered to every home in the Borough and you can also request a paper copy of the consultation document and/or response form by calling 01234 718070.
You can have your say online at bedford.gov.uk/localplan2040. The consultation papers available there use a new system, enabling people to mark-up specific paragraphs with their comments, save a draft and come back to it, and keep a copy for their own records.
You can also respond by post to Planning Policy Team, Bedford Borough Council, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, MK42 9AP.
Drop in sessions will be taking place at The Howard Centre, Bedford (by the indoor entrance to TKMaxx) between 11am and 2pm on Wednesday 14 July, Saturday 17 July, Wednesday 28 July, Sunday 1 August, Wednesday 11 August and Saturday 21 August.
If you have any questions not addressed in the FAQ, the team can be contacted on 01234 718300 where you can leave a message and the team will come back to you.
The consultation closes at 5pm on Friday 3 September.