View from the villages: Now is the time to have your say before planning policies are finalised

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Bricks - Building

Once again planning is on the agenda, not that it never really goes off it nationally or within Bedford Borough.

Locally there are three current consultations that will be of interest: the local plan review (also known as the Local Plan 2040), the design guide scoping consultation, and the Oxford-Cambridge Arc consultation.

First, turning to the Local Plan Review, I have heard from residents who feel that the problem is that 2040 feels like such a long time away, and yes in many ways it is, but that is the end of the plan period.

By 2040 the new housing and employment sites will have been provided so the plan shows what the Borough will look like at that date, rather than the development starting then.

I’ve also heard residents say that they don’t want any new houses, but that decision isn’t the Council’s to take. the Council can, however, choose where those houses go, taking into account consultation responses from residents.

This is why, although some feel it is futile, it is important to respond if you have a view on where houses should go. There are only a few days left (the consultation closes on 3 September at 5 pm) and you can reply online, by post or by email.

On the Council’s website, you will find the four preferred options for growth in the draft plan, as well as other options in Development Strategy Topic Paper.

To understand the sustainability of these proposals you can read the (Draft) Sustainability Appraisal- remembering that the Council has declared a climate change emergency.

There is also an interactive map of land which has been submitted to the council where housing and employment could be built.

This consultation also contains draft policies on what the town centre should look like which I know is a source of much debate among residents.

Often by the time many people engage with the process decisions about where new developments will be, have already been taken.

Now really is the time to have your say at bedford.Gov.uk/local-plan-review.

Bedford Borough Planning Committee

Second, the design guide scoping consultation. I also often say that there is so much focus on the ‘where’ that there is little time left for the ‘what’ when it comes to new developments.

This is why I am very pleased that there is also a scoping consultation open on a new design guide for Bedford Borough.

Many communities have produced design guidance as part of their Neighbourhood Plans, however, the current Borough-wide guides are over 20 years old and are in need of revision.

This consultation asks what should be included within the new design guide. I would have thought that I’m this an ideal time to make comments about what planning factors we think are important to create good communities and attractive design as well as to consider meaningful sustainability measures in new homes and employment sites.

For more information visit: bedford.gov.uk/planning-and-building/planning-policy-its-purpose/bedford-borough-design-guide/

This consultation also closes on Friday 3 September at 5 pm.

Last but by no means least there is a consultation open about the Oxford Cambridge Arc (OxCam Arc) of which Bedford Borough is part.

The Government’s aim is for the Arc to be a key economic area in the country across the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire- which also means new houses and employment sites.

There have been fewer than 600 responses at the time of writing- which given the population of these counties and that the consultation has been open since 20th July is unimpressive to say the least, however it is unsurprising as it has not been well advertised.

The proposals will have a profound impact on Bedford Borough with the aim being for the Arc to be developed by 2050.

The consultation responses will be used to help set the vision for the Arc and the aim is to publish a Spatial Framework in Autumn 2022.

This consultation runs until 12 October 2021. Please do have a look at it. Some parts can be filled out quite easily online, or you can respond by post.

To respond, visit: placebuilder.io/futureofthearc

I do feel that I am constantly banging the planning drum as it were, but the decisions that are taken now shape our communities and lives long into the future, and now is the time to have your say before policies are finalised.

by Cllr Phillippa Martin-Moran-Bryant, Great Barford Ward
(comprising Cardington, Cople, Great Barford, Ravensden, Renhold.
Including Cranbourne Gardens, Willington and Woodlands Park -part of Brickhill Parish)

View from the Villages is a monthly column by local councillors representing
rural wards in Bedford Borough. It is published unedited and does not
reflect the views of the Bedford Independent.

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