Central Bedfordshire Pre-submission Local Plan (January 2018)

Ended on the 22nd February 2018
If you are having trouble using the system, please try our help guide.

(13) 9 Settlement Envelopes and Settlement Hierarchy

(43) 9.1 Settlement Hierarchy

9.1.1 To help inform where new development should take place, it is helpful to set out a hierarchy of settlements. The hierarchy takes account of local sustainability credentials such as access to a variety of services and facilities (including schools, shops and public transport links) and is based on existing provision.

9.1.2 The hierarchy, set out on the following page helps to provide a framework for considering the levels of new development to be directed through the Development Management process. It will also help to set the context for decisions on individual planning applications, and should be read in conjunction with Policy SP7: Development within Settlement Envelopes.

9.1.3 There are four tiers included in the Settlement Hierarchy - Major Service Centres, Minor Service Centres, Large Villages, and Small Villages. The requirements for these tiers are set out in Policy SP7. A number of settlements within the hierarchy lie within the South Bedfordshire Green Belt. Settlements that are categorised within the hierarchy as being Major and Minor Service Centres or Large Villages have all been inset from the Green Belt where appropriate. The exceptions to this are Woburn and Aspley Guise which are washed over by the Green Belt and have defined infill only boundaries. A number of settlements that are categorised as being Small Villages have infill boundaries wherein some very limited development maybe acceptable.

Settlement Hierarchy

Major Service Centres

Major service centres provide a focus for employment, shopping and community facilities for the local community and surrounding rural communities.





Houghton Regis*

Leighton Linslade*



Minor Service Centres

Minor service centres are larger settlements with a good level of services, possibly including a school, doctor's surgery, a basic retail offer and frequent public transport links.


Barton le Clay*







Large Villages

Aspley Guise (GB)


Caddington* (GB)


Clophill (including Hall End, Maulden)

Eaton Bray* (GB)


Haynes (main village)

Heath & Reach* (GB)


Hockliffe* (GB)

Houghton Conquest

Kensworth (GB)


Lower Stondon

Marston Moretaine




Slip End* (GB)

Totternhoe (GB)

Upper Caldecote

Westoning* (GB)

Woburn (GB)

Small Villages

Aspley Heath (GB)

Billington (GB)




Chalton (nr.Toddington) (GB)


East Hyde (GB)

Eggington (GB)

Eversholt (GB)


Flitton, Greenfield & Wardhedges

Husborne Crawley (GB)





Milton Bryan (GB)



Old Warden


Ridgmont (GB)



Stanbridge (GB)


Steppingley (GB)

Streatley (GB)

Studham (GB)


Tebworth (GB)

Tempsford (Church End)

Tilsworth (GB)

Upper Gravenhurst

Upper Sundon (GB)

Whipsnade (GB)

Wingfield (GB)


Settlements not identified within the hierarchy are, due to their small size and rural character, considered to be part of the countryside.

  • Settlements followed by (GB) are settlements which are washed over by the Green Belt
  • * Settlements that are inset from the Green Belt

(14) 9.2 Settlement Envelopes

9.2.1 To define the boundaries between settlements and surrounding countryside, where appropriate the Council will define Settlement Envelopes. Settlement Envelopes provide a distinction between the settlements and the open countryside, and in so doing enable the clear, unambiguous and consistent application of policies in the management of development within and outside settlements. It also encourages the efficient use of land within our towns and villages, including the re-use of previously developed land.

9.2.2 It is not the purpose of Settlement Envelopes to identify land for development, this will be achieved via the allocation of sites in this Local Plan, nor are they an attempt to define the extent of a particular town or village community. Thus the Envelopes are unrelated to the administrative boundaries of town and parish, which serve this particular function.

9.2.3 To inform this work the Council is currently undertaking a review of its existing Settlement Envelopes to ensure that they reflect current uses on the ground. They were last updated for the Core Strategy and it is therefore recognised that a large number of changes will need to be made. The updated Settlement Envelopes will be illustrated on the Proposals Map that will accompany the pre-submission version of the Plan.

9.2.4 In some instances, where there is ambiguity in defining that boundary, the Envelope will be used to reflect the character of the predominant land use, using the most appropriate and clear physical features on the ground. That land use must be settlement related, for example residential development, domestic gardens, playing fields and community facilities; and not related to agriculture or considered to be part of the countryside.

9.2.5 There is a relationship between the settlement hierarchy and the application of Settlement Envelope policy, with the scale of development deemed appropriate being commensurate to the scale of settlement. Within small villages development will be limited to infill development, small-scale employment uses, and community facilities. Infill development can generally be defined as small-scale development for up to two dwellings in a small gap in an otherwise built up frontage, utilising a plot in a manner which should continue to complement the surrounding pattern and grain of development. There should be no adverse impact on the setting of the site, the character of the area, and surrounding properties and uses. High quality design principles will be applied and further detail is given in the Central Bedfordshire Design Guide.

9.2.6 Infill development of more than 2 dwellings will rarely be acceptable and only in circumstances where the developer can clearly demonstrate that such a development would be wholly in accordance with the surrounding character, pattern and grain of development, having regard to plot size, frontage length and dwelling size; and that the development would have an acceptable impact on the open character of the site and its immediate surroundings and the village within which the site is located.

9.2.7 This plan accommodates the needs of communities to grow and thrive through the allocation of appropriate and sustainable sites outside of the Settlement Envelopes. The Council will provide positive support to the development of these sites and other appropriate development in the countryside which seeks to improve the vitality of rural villages and improve the rural economy. Where development is proposed, the Council will seek to encourage careful consideration of the landscape character, the protection of important features in the landscape design and the existing accessibility and compatibility.

(38) Policy SP7: Development within Settlement Envelopes

Settlement Envelopes provide a distinction between settlements and the countryside.

Within the Settlement Envelopes of both Major and Minor Service Centres, the Council will support housing, employment and other settlement related development proportionate to the scale of the settlement, taking account of its role as a local service centre.

Within Settlement Envelopes of Large Villages, small-scale housing and employment uses, together with new retail, service, and community facilities to serve the village and its catchment will be supported.

Within Settlement Envelopes of Small Villages, development will be limited to infill development, small-scale employment uses, and community facilities.

Where an identified need exists for further community facilities (such as education, health, sports and recreation uses or mixed community.) and there is no land is available within the settlement, a site adjacent to the settlement may be granted planning permission. Such development should make the best use of available land and lead to more sustainable communities.

Outside Settlement Envelopes the Council will work to maintain and enhance the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and only particular types of new development will be permitted. This includes the development of those sites allocated by this and previous development plans and residential development within exception schemes or dwellings for the essential needs of those employed in agriculture or forestry. Proposals which re-use existing buildings or replace an existing dwelling will be acceptable provided they conform to the specific criteria in this plan.

Proposals for employment, tourism, leisure and community uses will also be considered favourably subject to their conformity with the relevant policies in this plan.

Limited extensions to gardens beyond Settlement Envelopes may be permitted provided that they do not harm the character of the area.

If you are having trouble using the system, please try our help guide.
back to top back to top