Harrold’s Neighbourhood Development Plan has been formally ‘made’ by Bedford Borough council.
The plan was agreed at last night’s (Wednesday) Bedford Borough Council’s Executive meeting.
And the meeting was told that Harrold’s plan – which helps shape the future of development in the area – has a focus on protecting the conservation area, heritage assets and open spaces that give the parish its “special character”.
Mayor Dave Hodgson told the Executive that with the making of this plan there will be ten Neighbourhood Development Plans in the borough.
“These are plans prepared by local people reflecting local decisions,” he said.
“They are part of the statutory development plan and will come into their own when planning applications are being determined.
“While most plans will help the delivery of new homes to meet local housing needs, we’ve seen neighbourhood plans cover a much broader range of subjects, reflecting issues are important to local people,” he added.
Mayor Hodgson said: “The need to maintain a strong sense of place lies at the heart of the plan’s vision. As with many others, the Harrold plan also sets out a list of local issues that cannot be addressed, or resolved, by planning policies.
“In this way, it is a much broader purpose and will be used to inform a community strategy and action plan to prioritise the delivery of the local improvements identified,” he added.
Cllr Doug McMurdo (Independent, Sharnbrook Ward) said he was “encouraged” with the neighbourhood plans coming forward, adding that certain sectors of the development community were very “scathing” and saying that as a local planning authority we were being “very foolish” to rely on such plans.
“I think that the parish councils, their communities and wider community as you’ve just described here are to be commended,” he said.
“Because not only are they helping the local plan and protecting that five-year land supply, they are also gaining some protection in and around their communities,” he added.
Harrold Parish Council submitted its plan in January last year, which was then subject to a six-week consultation, which ran from March 1.
And it was supported by a referendum held on November 18, where the question was ‘Do you want Bedford Borough Council to use the neighbourhood plan for Harrold Parish to help it decide planning applications in the Neighbourhood Area?’.
This was the first Neighbourhood Plan referendum in the borough to be extended into parts of another parish.
As Harrold’s allocated housing site lies near to the parish boundary some residents in Odell were invited to take part in the vote.
The turnout was 372 from an electorate of 1,328, with 318 votes in favour.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter