Central Bedfordshire Pre-submission Local Plan (January 2018)

Ended on the 22 February 2018
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17 High Quality Places

(2) 17.1 Design and Local Character

17.1.1 Central Bedfordshire is a diverse area characterised by distinctive landscapes, important heritage and wildlife assets, and a variety of settlements of specific character. It is therefore important that new developments are designed to respect this diversity and enhance the unique characteristics of the area.

17.1.2 Good design creates distinctive, functional and sustainable places for residents to live, work and enjoy. The Council has adopted its own technical guidance document on design, the Central Bedfordshire Design Guide, to ensure that new developments at all scales are of the highest design quality and enhance the area. All new development is expected to comply with this guidance and all relevant policies contained within this Plan. Where appropriate, conditions will be attached to planning permissions to ensure that design considerations are addressed when the development is implemented.

17.1.3 The following general principles must be adhered to in designing new schemes:

Responding to local context

17.1.4 All development proposals will be expected to achieve a high standard of design and should be underpinned by a thorough analysis of the site and its surrounding area. The Council greatly values the distinctive areas of natural and historic character across Central Bedfordshire, and new developments should be well integrated and positively related to their surroundings.

17.1.5 There must be no harm to local amenity and local character should be protected and where possible, enhanced. On larger strategic sites variety across the scheme will be fundamental to creating a place with its own character, and this should be achieved by varying layouts, street types and landscaping for example.

Movement and legibility

17.1.6 In designing new developments emphasis should be placed on creating a hierarchical network of well connected streets which meet the needs to all street users, and prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and public transport over private motor vehicles. The layout of the street network, supported by the positioning of key buildings, should also be used to enable people to navigate through new developments easily using safe and attractive routes.

17.1.7 All new developments will be expected to comply with the Council's parking standards as set out in this Local Plan.

Sustainable design

17.1.8 All new developments should optimise the potential for sustainable design. They should be located and designed to maximise the opportunity to travel by sustainable modes and should ensure appropriate consideration is given to orientation, landscaping, SUDS, energy, water use, and potential for pollution. The sorting and segregating of waste materials by occupiers is essential to the success of recycling and reuse schemes, and new developments should provide adequate and convenient storage space for the appropriate in-house storage of recyclables.

17.1.9 The Council feels strongly that the needs of all residents are accommodated within the built environment. This is expected to be done as part of an integrated design process from the outset, rather than as an add-on at a later stage.

Materials and detailing

17.1.10 A coordinated approach should be taken to the use of materials and the design and siting of street furniture, boundary treatments, lighting, signage and public art, all of which contribute towards place making. Trees and other planting appropriate to the scale of development and space available should be incorporated in order to soften the streetscape and reduce the visual impact of car parking. It is important that the choice of landscaping and materials used within the public realm are durable and functional in order to accommodate both everyday and infrequent uses, such as the movement of vehicles and people or gritting. Consideration must also be given to the cost, practicalities and responsibilities for the maintenance of landscaping and materials in the long term.

Community safety

17.1.11 The design of new developments is expected to address community safety concerns, for example by providing clear boundaries between public and private space and ensuring that the fronts of buildings and their principal entrances face onto the street or public space to increase pedestrian activity. Buildings and layouts should also be designed to maximise opportunities for natural surveillance and provide good quality lighting and sensible landscaping.

Inclusive design

17.1.12 It is important that all new development is designed to be inclusive with the needs of all users considered from the outset. Special consideration should be given to the needs of people with disabilities.


17.1.13 Careful consideration needs to be given to the density of new schemes to ensure that they make the best and most efficient use of land available. The key to creating high quality places is not simply about achieving a certain density; it is about designing schemes that take into account the character of surrounding areas and the opportunities and constraints present in a particular locations. The Central Bedfordshire Design Guide provides examples of where different densities might be appropriate in Central Bedfordshire, but all schemes will be considered on a case by case basis and will be required to meet the design principles identified within this Local Plan and the Central Bedfordshire Design Guide.

17.1.14 The Council will generally support higher densities within urban locations and along existing and potential new public transport corridors, in order to secure the provision of commercially viable services and support retail, employment and community facilities. Changes in density across a larger scheme or in urban settings can often be appropriate and add variety in character, providing that they are well designed. For edge of urban sites and those within or adjoining smaller towns and villages within the rural area, the density of the scheme will be expected to reflect the existing character of the surrounding area, and appropriate landscaping and boundary treatments will be required to provide an appropriate edge and protect open countryside.

(11) Policy HQ1: High Quality Development

The Council will ensure that all developments are of the highest possible quality and respond positively to their context. All development proposals, including extensions and change of use, must ensure that:

  • Proposals take account of opportunities to enhance or reinforce the local distinctiveness of the area and create a sense of place;
  • Size, scale, massing, orientation, materials and appearance relate well to the existing local surroundings and reinforce local distinctiveness, both built and natural;
  • Careful consideration is given to the density of all new housing proposals to ensure that they make the most efficient use of the land available, whilst reflecting the existing character of the surrounding area and making provision for appropriate landscaping and boundary treatments;
  • Proposals are well connected to surrounding areas, providing safe, attractive and convenient routes that encourage travel by sustainable modes and meet the needs of all street users;
  • The distinction between public and private space is clear, with distinct boundaries;
  • Proposals are complimentary to the existing natural environment, taking account of the landscape setting, landscape character, Rights of Way, biodiversity, and Green Infrastructure. High quality hard and soft landscaping appropriate to the scale of development proposed should be used to integrate the proposal into the environment;
  • Inclusive design is considered from the outset;
  • Layouts are designed to maximise surveillance and increase pedestrian activity within the public realm to reduce opportunities for crime;
  • There is not an unacceptable adverse impact upon nearby existing or permitted uses, including impacts on amenity, privacy, noise or air quality;
  • Resources are used efficiently and energy and water efficiency is maximised;
  • Any lighting associated with the development does not have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area; and
  • Development supports the sustainable management of waste through the appropriate layout and design of buildings, external spaces and roads in accordance with the Design Guide for Central Bedfordshire and Waste Strategic Policy WSP5 of the Minerals and Waste Local Plan (January 2014).

All new development will be expected to comply with the requirements of the Central Bedfordshire Design Guide (and subsequent revisions).

(2) 17.2 Planning Obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy

17.2.1 The development industry will be funding a substantial proportion of infrastructure associated with new development. This will occur either through the usual agreements made in the course of individual planning applications (known as s106 Planning Agreements) or the emerging Community Infrastructure Levy, a tariff based charge.

17.2.2 The Community Infrastructure Levy will allow the Council to raise funds to support development and the money will assist the funding of a wide range of infrastructure projects needed as a result of development. The infrastructure to be funded by CIL will defined for the charging schedule and the Infrastructure Schedule will form the starting point for this. The Council needs to strike a balance between the desirability of funding infrastructure from the levy and the potential effects of the levy upon the economic viability of development

17.2.3 A meaningful proportion of the funds raised from CIL will be placed with the neighbourhoods where development takes place for local Town and Parish Councils to spend on local infrastructure priorities.

17.2.4 In some circumstances the infrastructure required to serve Central Bedfordshire may be provided in neighbouring administrative areas. Likewise in some cases it will be reasonable to seek a contribution from development from adjoining areas towards infrastructure in Central Bedfordshire that will support those developments. Central Bedfordshire Council will work constructively with adjoining local planning authorities to ensure that development is supported by the right infrastructure and that contributions towards infrastructure provision is collected on an equitable basis.

17.2.5 With the introduction of CIL, s106 agreements will only be used in restricted circumstances. A Planning Obligations SPD will be prepared about the use of s106 agreements in light of CIL approval.

(10) Policy HQ2: Planning Obligations and the Community Infarstructure Levy

New development must be supported by the required infrastructure at the appropriate stage. Where existing infrastructure will be placed under more strain due to the impact of new development, compensatory provision should be made such that there is no overall reduction in provision.

Developers will be required to make appropriate contributions to offset the cost of providing new physical, social and environmental infrastructure required as a result of their proposals either by way of financial contributions, or direct provision of such infrastructure within larger developments.

The Council will work in partnership with infrastructure providers, neighbouring authorities and other delivery agencies in seeking the provision of the necessary infrastructure to support new development.

Contributions will be phased or pooled to ensure the timely delivery and implementation of the necessary infrastructure.

The Council will seek to introduce a Community Infrastructure Levy and retain the use of Section 106 agreements where necessary. In advance of the adoption of the Community Infrastructure Levy, the Council will seek to ensure the delivery of strategic infrastructure by Planning Obligations and other appropriate funding sources.

An SPD on the role and purpose of S106 agreements will be prepared.

(4) 17.3 Social and Community Infrastructure

17.3.1 The Council recognises the importance of facilitating social interaction and creating strong, vibrant and inclusive communities. The delivery of sufficient community facilities and accessible services to meet local needs helps to improve the health, social and cultural wellbeing of all.

17.3.2 Community infrastructure is the facilities and services that support and meet the local everyday of those who live or work in the locality. For example this may include:

  • Leisure, recreational or cultural facilities and community buildings;
  • Local shops, public houses and services, including those for social; educational and health use;
  • Libraries and other information services that help residents to access local services;
  • Health and Social Care Hubs; and
  • Any other services or facilities supporting employment and housing growth which enhance the sustainability of communities.

17.3.3 Social infrastructure is the organisation, services and activities that support a community's need for social engagement and participation; build strong, vibrant healthy and inclusive communities; and improve the wellbeing of those who live and work in the locality. This can include: opportunities for residents to be actively involved in their community through their participation in community activities, social networks, forums, groups and volunteering; opportunities for social action and community engagement; and support, advice, training and assistance with the formation of new social networks, volunteering opportunities and community groups, including the provision of 'start up' grants.

17.3.4 New residential development often increases pressures on social and community infrastructure. In line with national guidance, the Council will aim to protect existing community facilities whilst also working towards enhancing provision across Central Bedfordshire. Where existing facilities are not adequate to support proposed residential development, developers will be required to contribute towards or provide new or enhanced facilities.

17.3.5 Access to high quality well designed community facilities and public spaces contribute to a strong sense of place, as well as a strong sense of community. Community facilities require a pattern of development that makes the fullest appropriate possible use of public transport, walking and cycling and provides ease of access to facilities and services.

17.3.6 A "community hub" approach is encouraged, where community facilities can be co-located and form part of wider service delivery role, meeting a range of community needs from a single location. The co-location of facilities and services, providing shared facilities and integrated service delivery, increases foot fall and helps to make services more sustainable; it also reduces unnecessary journeys and means that residents can access services to better and meet their every day needs with ease.

17.3.7 The need for social and community infrastructure generated by new development must be planned ahead, with interim or temporary provision provided ahead of full provision made at a later date to a standard that ensures future residents are well served and that any existing community does not suffer adverse impacts. This may require certain facilities and services to be provided before dwellings are occupied or at a very early stage to establish preferred trends and would be determined on a site by site basis. Temporary schemes must be accompanied by a clear exit strategy that provides for overlap with the onset and transfer to permanent provision. Schemes must include an agreed timescale for the delivery of all social and community infrastructure. Developers will be required to contribute to the long term management, running costs and maintenance of temporary and permanent community facilities and to the provision of social infrastructure to ensure future communities benefit from provision.

17.3.8 Social and community infrastructure requires strong working partnerships between the Council, Town and Parish Councils, developers, public sector agencies, the voluntary and community sector and the business sector. Providers will need to meet the health and social care; educational, cultural and learning; social and community development needs of residents in new and existing communities. Developers will be required to work closely with those affected by their proposals, in particular Town and Parish Councils, to develop designs and specifications and take account of the views of the community and have regard to the specific design requirements of those operating and using the facilities, at an early stage.

17.3.9 The Community Right to Bid provisions give local community groups such as parish councils, charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises a right to nominate a building or other land for listing by Central Bedfordshire Council as an asset of community value. The legislation aims to help communities faced with losing local amenities and buildings which are of importance to them. The current use of the building or land being nominated (that is not an ancillary use) must further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community. When a listed asset is to be sold, local community groups will have a chance to make a bid and buy it on the open market.

Community Infrastructure: Libraries

17.3.10 Central Bedfordshire libraries are safe, trusted spaces which act as gateways to public services and support initiatives to tackle disadvantage and exclusion. A number of recent national reports have highlighted the ability of new libraries to act as catalysts to economic regeneration within the wider community. The Central Bedfordshire Library Service has a pivotal role in both the urban and rural communities as a neutral community resource and meeting space which the whole community can use.

17.3.11 The library service in Central Bedfordshire has evolved into a flexible, multi-faceted service, which functions as an important enabler and provider of community activities and events. The Council's 12 libraries provide cultural hubs and also support other council and community agendas such as health and wellbeing, literacy and learning and education and skills.

17.3.12 The Council's Five Year Plan 2015-20, supports the creation of the emerging Library Strategy which will develop the Council's themes of 'creating stronger communities', 'great resident services' and 'market towns that will thrive and prosper'.

17.3.13 The emerging Library Strategy will set out the vision and priorities for the Council's Library Service for the next 5 years, building on the strong foundations established by the current Library Strategy (2012). The emerging Strategy sees the Council continuing to provide a comprehensive library service to all residents, whilst also ensuring that it is relevant, efficient and sustainable. Any enhancement of existing services or provision of new services will be required to support the priorities of the new Library Strategy.

17.3.14 The planned Dunstable Leisure Centre and Library project will see the Library Service at the heart of a multi-facility hub providing sport, leisure, library programmes and activities, Citizens Advice Bureau and adult social day care under one roof. This pilot project for the Council will help shape the future direction of leisure and library services and will inform the continuous improvement of the library service including the requirements of increased opening hours and evolving technology.

(10) Policy HQ3: Provision for Social and Community Infrastructure

The Council will support the principle of applications for the expansion or enhancement, or the provision of new social and community infrastructure.

To deliver new facilities and services, subject to viability, the Council will work with developers, service providers and partners to:

  • Ensure an integrated approach to the location of housing, economic uses and community facilities and services;
  • Ensure the timely delivery and transfer of social and community infrastructure; and
  • Utilise the principles of multi-functional space where appropriate, by maximising opportunities for co-location, shared facilities and integrated service delivery through community hubs where appropriate.
  • Ensure that where temporary spaces are provided these are replaced by occupation of the last dwelling by a permanent space

New housing developments will be required to contribute towards the provision of social and community infrastructure to meet the need generated by the development. Where an application fails to provide adequate social and community infrastructure without reasoned justification, or fails to make appropriate planning obligation contributions, it will be refused.

Depending on the use of the social and community infrastructure and adoption arrangements, developers may be required to make appropriate contributions towards maintenance.

Development which proposes the change of use or loss of land and buildings which are currently or were previously a community infrastructure use will be resisted. Permission will not be granted for change of use or redevelopment unless the applicant can prove that:

  • The use no longer serves the community, and significant evidence is provided to demonstrate that it is surplus to requirements and there is a lack of need for any other community uses at the facility; or
  • The loss would be replaced by equivalent or better provision either on site or at an appropriate accessible location; or
  • Evidence is provided which satisfactorily demonstrates that the use is no longer financially viable, and all reasonable efforts have been made to sell or let the premises for a community use at a reasonable price for at least 12 months.

Where a site or building is listed by the Council as an Asset of Community Value the Council will consider this to be a material consideration in any applications regarding its change of use

17.4 Indoor Sport and Leisure Facilities

17.4.1 Indoor sport and leisure facilities are not only important in contributing to improving the physical health of communities but they also perform a function as valued community hubs where people meet and socialise. Indoor sports facilities including swimming pools, gyms, sports courts and work-out studios are usually provided by public leisure centres. The Council has six multi-facility public leisure centres spread across its area. Access to these buildings is central to creating and maintaining healthy communities. It is therefore important that existing facilities are retained and that new development plays a role in delivering appropriate infrastructure to serve its residents.

17.4.2 The Council also has policies which address the protection and provision of outdoor sport facilities and open space in relation to new development. These are included within the Environmental Enhancement section of this Plan (Section 17).

(4) Policy HQ4: Indoor Sport and Leisure Facilities

Central Bedfordshire Council will protect indoor sports and leisure facilities from development. Redevelopment of these sites for other purposes will only be appropriate in exceptional situations, in line with NPPF requirements.

Where they are lost to development, equal or better replacement provision within a reasonable proximity of the original facility must be delivered by the developer, or a contribution provided to the council to re-provide the facility where land has been identified which is suitable and available for that provision.

On new residential developments, the Council will require;

  • the provision of indoor sports and leisure facilities must have regard to the Leisure Strategy standards and facility requirements
  • developments to provide indoor sports and leisure facilities on site unless this is demonstrably inappropriate or impossible
  • the enhancement and / or extension of existing facilities must have regard to the Leisure Strategy requirements, where the provision of indoor sports and leisure facilities is not on the development site. Where the priority facility for improvements is owned by Central Bedfordshire Council a contribution will be required from the developer to deliver the identified improvements
  • on-site indoor sports and leisure facilities which are to be delivered by the developer to be designed and constructed in accordance with Sport England facility guidance, together with the facility guidance of the relevant National Governing Body for Sport (NGB)
  • proposals for on-site indoor sports and leisure facilities to provide a management scheme which details the future ownership, management and maintenance of the site, and where the site is to be adopted commuted sums are to be paid for the maintenance of the facility

(1) 17.5 Communications Infrastructure


17.5.1 National policy requires Local Plans to support the expansion of electronic communications networks. The expansion and development of these networks is critical to supporting and growing businesses and improving the area's productivity; in addition to attracting new investment in knowledge based and technology intensive sectors. Such provision enables people to access services and work from home and can have wider impacts on the need to travel, accessibility and the low carbon economy

17.5.2 The Council's approved Joint Local Broadband Plan 2012 sets out the Council's ambition to deliver improved broadband with Next Generation Access for all by 2020. The Council has met its initial targets and further measures are planned to support existing premises to receive superfast broadband services.

17.5.3 A key part of delivering this vision for the area is ensuring that new developments put in place the provision of digital infrastructure to support the delivery of high speed broadband services.

17.5.4 Superfast broadband is considered to be internet access with connection speeds of greater than 100Mbps. However, technological advances means available speeds are constantly increasing, and the Council wishes to ensure a network that can be upgraded, so residents and businesses are able to benefit from increasing access speeds, for example Gigabit (1000Mbps) ultra fast services.

17.5.5 New build infrastructure can be designed to provide high rates of connectivity. The Government and the British Standards Institution have produced a Publicly Available Specification (PAS 2016) which aims to inform builders and developers about how to install digital infrastructure into all new build domestic dwellings. Likewise, builders and developers should also consider the Data Ducting Infrastructure for New Homes Guidance Note (2008) when planning digital infrastructure requirements for developments.

17.5.6 As such, the Council wishes to see the necessary on-site infrastructure put in place at the time of construction, to ensure future connectivity to superfast services. Developers should therefore consult with telecommunications providers at the earliest opportunity in the planning process in relation to the provision of appropriate infrastructure services and the co-location of utilities and broadband.

17.5.7 The Council will expect all new residential developments of 30 dwellings or more to include provision for broadband infrastructure to support the delivery of superfast broadband services to all dwellings. Developments of less than 30 dwellings and all employment development should also make fibre provision or demonstrate, using evidence, why fibre connections can not be made and what alternative if any will be made.

17.5.8 It is recognised that the availability of high speed digital infrastructure is increasingly becoming essential for residential and commercial premises. High speed connectivity can increase the value of developments. In addition to the Council's investment in enhancing existing broadband infrastructure, it is recognised that new infrastructure enabling new communities to access superfast broadband services can also support improved access for nearby communities. The Council would support investment that improves wider superfast broadband connectivity where practicable.

Radio and Telecommunications

17.5.9 Voice and mobile telecommunications services are increasingly critical aspects for residents and businesses, and the Council supports enhancement of indoor and outdoor connectivity across Central Bedfordshire. Telecommunications technology is rapidly evolving, as highlighted in the Government's Next Generation Mobile Technologies: A Five Year Strategy for the UK which seeks to provide faster and more reliable communications, such as 5G, for applications from self driving cars to the "internet of things".

17.5.10 In line with the Government's policy, the Council supports the principle that there should be high quality access to communications technology where people live, work and travel. The Council would be supportive in principle for 5G pilot projects that can play a key part in achieving high levels of indoor and outdoor coverage.

17.5.11 Central Bedfordshire Council require that existing radio and telecommunications structures and sites should be used wherever feasible. Where new installation sites are proposed, justification should be provided to demonstrate that there are no feasible opportunities for mast or site sharing.

17.5.12 There is a clear need to balance the social and economic benefits of any particular telecommunications development against their potential environmental impact. The principal issues that are likely to arise are landscape and visual considerations because of the height and massing of masts and equipment.

17.5.13 Some smaller scale masts fall within 'permitted development' but require the 'prior approval' of the LPA. In such cases, the consideration of proposals will be limited to the acceptability of the proposal in relation to appearance and siting. Appearance of a mast includes its materials, colour and design, and consideration of siting will involve its impact on the ecological value of the site, the wider landscape and its proximity to buildings and housing and the availability of alternative infrastructure in the area.

17.5.14 The criteria at Policy HQ5 will be applied in these cases and for those more significant radio and telecommunications that do not constitute 'permitted development'.

(11) Policy HQ5: Broadband and Telecommunications Infrastructure

Residential development of 30 dwellings or more shall provide superfast next generation broadband infrastructure to serve all dwellings within the development.. Developments of less than 30 dwellings and all employment development should also make fibre provision, or demonstrate, using evidence, why fibre connections can not be made and what alternative, if any, will be made.

This should where possible facilitate a fibre to the premises solution, or the equivalent technology, capable of providing superfast broadband services with a minimum of 100Mbps (subject to Government policy).

Provision should be made with minimal disruption and minimal need for reconstruction, and allow for future growth/improvements in service infrastructure/broadband service.

The Council supports the provision of high quality communications technology offering access to places where people live, work and travel in Central Bedfordshire.

Existing radio and telecommunications structures and sites should be used wherever feasible. Where new installation sites are proposed, justification should be provided to demonstrate that there are no feasible opportunities for mast or site sharing.

Any new masts or telecommunications equipment must:

  • enhance indoor and outdoor mobile telecommunications coverage and reliability for voice services and mobile broadband
  • be sited to minimise visual intrusion and to ensure that local amenity is not significantly adversely affected;
  • be sympathetically designed;
  • be sited so they are not overly prominent or visually dominating within the street scene;
  • Would not cause an overbearing impact upon neighbouring dwellings due to height, proximity and/or design of structures;
  • be sited so that there is no significant adverse impact on the Chilterns AONB, SSSIs, identified heritage assets and any important landscape features identified in the Landscape Character Assessment 2016.

(1) 17.6 Public Art

17.6.1 Public Art is recognised as a key mechanism to enhance public realm, promote local distinctiveness and legibility Public Art is also a valuable tool in engaging local communities, existing and new, in the design and creative processes which assists in engendering a sense of involvement and ownership.

17.6.2 Central Bedfordshire Council requires developers and promoters of sites to take responsibility for funding and managing the implementation of Public Art as part of development either directly or through specialist advisers and in consultation with Central Bedfordshire Council.

(10) Policy HQ7: Public Art

The Council requires Public Art appropriate to the scale of development to be provided as part of development consisting of:

  • Residential development of 100 or more units
  • Any new development facing on to the public realm where floor area exceeds 1000m² including retail, leisure, public buildings and educational establishments
  • New public spaces associated with town centre development and enhancement
  • Transport interchanges and major highways and transport infrastructure projects especially within an urban context

All development proposals should take account of the detailed guidance presented in the Central Bedfordshire Design Guide.

17.7 Back-land Development

17.7.1 Back-land development refers to the development of land which sits behind the existing building line with little or no frontage onto the public highway, for example residential gardens. Proposals on back-land sites are often for residential development, however in some cases smaller scale office or ancillary uses are proposed.

17.7.2 The Council does not object to all back-land development, but it must be ensured that it is well designed and suitable to the existing character and context. There will however be some cases where development of back-land is not suitable, for example if it would have a detrimental impact on the character of the area or if it would be depart significantly from the existing grain of development.

(5) Policy HQ8: Back-land Development

Proposals for the development of back-land sites will be resisted where they are against the existing pattern and grain of development and the characterand appearance of the area would be harmed.

17.8 Larger Sites

17.8.1 This plan allocates a number of housing sites to meet the identified need. All of these allocations which propose 300 dwellings or more, or which are on a sensitive site will be expected to work with the Council to produce a Development Brief as outlined in the site allocation policies. Any allocations which are on a sensitive site, or are to be phased may be expected to provide a Design Code for the site as a whole in addition to a Development Brief.

17.8.2 A Development Brief is intended to bridge the gap between the Local Plan and a planning application. It will focus on planning issues and must be consistent with the Local Plan. A Development Brief often details a site's constraints and opportunities, and outlines what type of development is expected by the Local Planning Authority. The guidance in Development Briefs will focus on planning issues.

17.8.3 A Design Code is a detailed technical guidance document which plans for high quality design across a site through the use of written text and supporting drawings. Design Codes clarify the quality and type of design which is expected for a site, setting out key design principles. This provides certainty for developers and the local community, whilst ensuring high quality development.

17.8.4 Whilst this Plan aims to make provision for enough housing to meet the Council's need as identified in Section 7, the Council recognises that circumstances may arise where larger windfall sites come forward. A mix of uses is expected to enable to creation of sustainable communities. All mixed-use development must ensure that the range of uses provided are properly integrated and respect neighbouring uses, including those which are already existing.

(9) Policy HQ9: Larger Sites

Larger sites are expected to provide a mix of uses to ensure an integrated approach towards delivery of residential, economic and community uses.

Where development exceeds 300 dwellings, where there are complex design or amenity issues, or where the site is sensitive, a Development Brief must be agreed with the Council prior to submission of a Full or Outline planning application

A Design Code will also be required for developments in excess of 300 dwellings where the site is:

  • Made up of multiple related sites that will be built out in phases over a long period of time;
  • In multiple ownership and coordination between the parties is desirable;
  • Likely to be developed by two or more different developers; or
  • Requires a well considered approach to design due to its sensitivity or the sensitivity of a surrounding area.

17.9 Small open spaces

17.9.1 The Council recognises the importance of retaining open spaces within our towns and villages as they can contribute to the greening of the built environment, have a positive impact on health and wellbeing, provide havens for wildlife, establish a sense of place and generally create attractive and enjoyable places in which to live and work.

17.9.2 Small open spaces can provide an attractive landscape setting, contribute to traffic calming and screen or soften views by creating buffers between different uses. These types of open spaces can also support habitat connectivity for wildlife and form a key component in sustainable drainage.

17.9.3 The Council's Leisure Strategy sets out the requirements for the creation of new open spaces in developments. It also identifies Central Bedfordshire's stock of open spaces which meet Leisure Strategy typologies and are above a threshold of 200 sqm. In accordance with national guidance these are protected by this Plan from their inappropriate redevelopment. There is however a need to resist the loss of other, often smaller areas not identified in the Leisure Strategy, which while they may or may not have a recreational function, contribute positively to the visual amenity, character and environment of our settlements.

(2) Policy HQ10: Small Open Spaces

Verges, landscape strips and other areas which provide opportunities for recreation or contribute positively to the visual amenity and/or the ecological networks of the area will be safeguarded from encroachment or loss unless social, environmental or economic benefits which significantly outweigh the need to protect the land can be demonstrated.

17.10 Modern Methods of Construction

17.10.1 'Modern methods of construction' (MMC) is a collective term used to describe a number of construction methods. These differ significantly from conventional construction methods such as brick and block. They are fundamentally about better products and processes which improve efficiency, quality, customer satisfaction, environmental performance, sustainability and the predictability of delivery timescales.

17.10.2 There are many types of approaches that are encompassed within MMC. These include:

  • Panellised units produced in a factory and assembled on-site to produce a three dimensional structure
  • Volumetric construction to produce three-dimensional modular units in controlled factory conditions prior to transport to site
  • Hybrid techniques that combine both panellised and volumetric approaches.
  • Floor or roof cassettes, pre-cast concrete foundation assemblies, pre-formed wiring looms, mechanical engineering composites and innovative techniques such as tunnel form or thin-joint block work

17.10.3 This is an area of considerable innovation with new methods and products being developed on an on-going basis. To reflect this additional guidance will be provided in the Council's Design guide.

17.10.4 The Council recognises the potential benefits in promoting and encouraging innovation in relation to modernising construction and will therefore consider applications that embrace these favourably.

17.10.5 The Council will maintain a 5-year land supply of housing delivery and in doing so will hold landowners, developers and housebuilders to account on timescales for on-site delivery. MMC could play an important role in accelerating the pace of this delivery on site. MMC is also seen as being a key approach that will be necessary to counter the increasing current and future implications in the shortage of skilled labour in the construction sector.

17.10.6 We would encourage partnerships between housebuilders, Registered Providers and MMC manufacturers with a view to achieving increased build rates and accelerated housebuilding. This will be monitored and recorded as part of the 5-year land supply calculations.

17.10.7 The Council will take an evidence-based approach to commissioning partners who can deliver quality homes at an accelerated pace. This may include manufactures that make effective use of modern building techniques and innovative methods of construction.

(6) Policy HQ11: Modern Methods of Construction

The Council aims to encourage innovation and appropriate use of modern building techniques. Therefore, proposals that embrace modern methods of construction will be considered favourably. This will include being more flexible with regards to design and finishes whilst still maintaining high quality.

Developers will be asked to demonstrate how they have considered use of MMC in their proposal to determine the relative benefit or appropriateness of MMC.

The Council aspires for 20% of all new development over the period of this plan to be delivered by utilising modern methods of construction.

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