Central Bedfordshire Pre-submission Local Plan (January 2018)

Ended on the 22nd February 2018
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(27) 6 The Proposed Locations for Growth

(13) 6.1 Overview

In developing the Local Plan, the Council has consulted through a series of initiatives as set out In Chapter 3 and the outcomes of these have influenced both the initial Draft Plan and this Pre-submission Plan. To reflect the very different capacities and constraints for growth potential these consultations have drawn on the characterisation of Central Bedfordshire into component areas according to their main spatial, settlement, environmental and infrastructure features:

  • The South Area – close to Luton and extending west to Leighton Linslade and north to Flitwick
  • The A1 Corridor – Arlesey, Biggleswade, Sandy and north to Tempsford
  • The East-West axis – from the M1 through Marston Valley to Wixams
  • The Central Area – small towns and villages, from Ampthill to Moggerhanger

The following sections set out broadly the potential for growth proposed in this Plan for each of these areas.

(19) 6.2 South Area

6.2.1 This plan identifies a requirement to accommodate 'unmet need' as Luton is a highly constrained urban area. Some of this need is being met by North Hertfordshire District Council; however through Duty to Co-operate discussions; the Council has committed to providing for 7350 homes within Central Bedfordshire and within the Luton Housing Market Area (HMA).

6.2.2 As the Luton HMA is largely comprised of Green Belt land, this has necessitated proposals that require some release of land within the Green Belt as 'exceptional circumstances'[5] can be demonstrated. Small villages 'washed over' by Green Belt generally have limited capacity to grow, but there is potential for medium scale growth along the major transport corridors following the M1, A5 and the railway (Midland Main Line), or large scale growth for sites in close proximity to Luton that could be linked to the Luton-Dunstable Busway and/or the strategic transportation network. The lack of new sites within the urban areas of Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis mean that significant further growth on greenfield land is required.

6.2.3 Consultation told us that growth in the south was supported because of the proximity to key services in the urban centres of Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Luton.

6.2.4 Significant pieces of new infrastructure in the south, including the A5-M1 link road, the Woodside Link, the Luton/Dunstable Busway and new Junction 11a, will also help to support this level of growth.

6.2.5 This area is characterised by the Green Belt, the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Greensand Ridge Nature Improvement Area (NIA), all of which have valued habitats and landscapes which are existing environmental assets. However, major sites to the north of Houghton Regis and to the East and South of Leighton Buzzard are already under development or have planning permission.

6.2.6 The new homes proposed are in the form of a strategic site that is closely related to Luton's northern urban edge, or in the form of highly sustainable extensions of a more moderate scale to large towns and villages that are inset into the Green Belt. Both deliver growth to meet housing need where it is arising, and have a good level of services and connectivity.

6.2.7 The proposed allocations in this area are:

  • North of Luton – around 4000 homes
  • Extensions to Barton le Clay, Chalton, Eaton Bray, Flitwick, Harlington, Hockliffe, Houghton Regis, Leighton Linslade, Luton (Caddington parish) Toddington and Westoning.
  • M1 Junction 11a (around 40 hectares for employment)

6.2.8 Land West of Luton is an Identified Location for future development and will be considered in the Partial Plan Review. This land has a potential capacity for around 2,000 homes, but does not contribute to the Plan target of 39,350 homes.

(31) 6.3 A1 Corridor Area

6.3.1 While there is great future potential for large scale growth in this area as a result of service improvements on the East Coast Mainline shown by the allocation of a new village East of Biggleswade and an extension to Arlesey, it is recognised that to take forward further significant growth in this area, there has to be greater clarity on the routing of both the Expressway and the Central Section of East West Rail. This will enable an informed approach to the siting and planning of new settlement scale strategic sites and will be addressed in the Partial Plan Review set out in section 5.5.

6.3.2 The Government has however demonstrated clear support for the timing and funding of the east-west connectivity proposals in the Autumn Budget (November 2017) which has led to the Identified Location at Tempsford which can capitalise on its exceptional location for a new strategic rail interchange on the new East West Rail line and the existing East Coast Mainline. This potential, dependent on route and station decisions, will also be addressed in the Partial Plan Review.

6.3.3 Investment from the developments themselves and from other funding sources to increase the capacity of the stretch of the A1 through Central Bedfordshire will be absolutely critical in moving forward with multiple significant strategic scale growth proposals in this eastern area. Wider growth of up to three additional new villages East of Biggleswade is also therefore identified in addition to Tempsford in this Plan as an Identified Location for Future Growth, recognising that there is potential scope in the longer term for greater levels of growth if the infrastructure required to deliver this is secured, to be addressed in the Partial Plan Review.

6.3.4 The Greensand Ridge Nature Improvement Area (NIA) and Ivel Valley and their valued habitats are existing environmental assets in this area. There are also opportunities for new environmental projects, including a new Country Park for Arlesey and Stotfold, a long distance 'Great North Cycleway', and access and open space networks around Biggleswade, Sandy, and the Arlesey, Stotfold and Fairfield areas.

6.3.5 The proposed allocations in this area are:

  • East of Biggleswade (around 1500 homes)
  • East of Arlesey (around 2000 homes)
  • Extensions to Arlesey, Biggleswade, Dunton, Everton, Langford, Potton and Sutton.
  • A1 Corridor – Biggleswade South (around 60 hectares for employment)

6.3.6 Land at North, South and East of Tempsford is safeguarded for future development, to be assessed further in the Partial Plan Review. The Review will consider the potential capacity for 10,000+ homes, but does not contribute to the Plan target of 39,350 homes.

6.3.7 Land East of Biggleswade, east of the allocated village, south of Sutton and west of Dunton is an Identified Location for future development. Subject to the Partial Plan Review, this land has a potential capacity of up to 5000 homes, but does not contribute to the plan target of 39,350 homes.

(14) 6.4 East-West Area

6.4.1 This area of Central Bedfordshire is an important economic area with advanced research and development at Cranfield Technology Park and Millbrook Proving Ground and close links with Milton Keynes. The area is well connected with the upgraded A421, and the M1 and the planned Western Section upgrade of East West Rail between Oxford and Bedford.

6.4.2 Much of the landscape has been restored and the Forest of Marston Vale is an important asset. Extending the Forest of Marston Vale and the delivery of the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway are critical to the delivery of growth with a strong design and environmental focus in this area.

6.4.3 A series of linked villages with appropriate landscape buffering to protect the existing communities of Marston Moretaine, Lidlington and Brogborough from coalescence and new facilities to benefit existing residents are therefore proposed in this Plan as an allocation.

6.4.4 The future opportunities in this area for consideration in the Partial Plan Review are related to the proposed future strategic infrastructure investment committed for East-West Rail and the Expressway. This strategy supports the proposed East-West rail route and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway and in turn the National Infrastructure Commission's central finding that the Oxford-Cambridge area which runs through Central Bedfordshire provides a 'once in a generation opportunity' to be the UK's Silicon Valley, delivering growth in science, technology and innovation[6].

6.4.5 When delivered, these will strongly support the development potential of further large scale growth in the Marston Vale.

6.4.6 There is also some potential north of the railway line in an area known as the Aspley Guise Triangle for mixed use development in the form of new villages. However as development can not come forward until the route of the Expressway has been finalised which is estimated to be post 2021, it has been identified as a safeguarding Location for consideration in the Partial Plan Review rather than an allocation to ensure that the route is not sterilised.

6.4.7 Consultation and evidence told us that villages around Woburn including Aspley Guise must be protected due to their unique character, heritage assets and natural environment so any future development here would however need to be appropriately buffered to avoid coalescence and harm to the character of the existing settlements.

6.4.8 The Allocations proposed in this area are:

  • Marston Vale New Villages (around 5000 homes) plus a business park
  • Extensions to Aspley Guise, Cranfield, Wixams and Marston Moretaine.
  • M1 Junction 13 (around 40 hectares for employment)

6.4.9 Land at Aspley Guise (North of the Railway Line) is safeguarded for future development for consideration in the Partial Plan Review. This land has a potential capacity for around 3,000 homes, but does not contribute to the Plan target of 39,350 homes.

(9) 6.5 Central Area

6.5.1 The settlement pattern and constrained infrastructure limit the options for strategic scale growth in this area. As such a number of small and medium allocations are proposed around settlements that have good access to services and facilities.

6.5.2 This area has had a large number of recent permissions as a result of speculative development. This has led to piecemeal development which does not allow for a holistic approach to the delivery of new services and infrastructure.

6.5.3 The Sustainability Appraisal and the transport modelling evidence tells us that there is limited scope for residential growth in this area due to limited capacity on the network, particularly along the A507 as result of incremental growth of existing settlements.

6.5.4 However the mixed use development at RAF Henlow exploits this unique existing asset and its strategic location at the heart of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc meaning that it has potential to enhance, unlock and create new economic growth within the global tech sectors which will maximise returns for the UK economy.

6.5.5 The allocations proposed in this area are:

  • RAF Henlow (mixed use specialist employment)
  • Extensions to Campton, Clifton, Haynes, Henlow, Lower Stondon, Maulden, Meppershall, Moggerhanger, Northill, Shefford, Shillington and Upper Gravenhurst.

(3) 6.6 Growth Strategy

6.6.1 The allocations for employment, housing, and mixed use development are set out in Policy SP1 overleaf. The allocations have been selected with regard to their overall sustainability based on the evidence presented in the Growth Options Studies for the Luton HMA and the North of Central Bedfordshire, technical site assessment work, the Sustainability Appraisal, transport modelling and other technical evidence studies.

6.6.2 The plan target is to deliver 39,350 homes a modest contingency on the 'supply' of sites has been applied to provide a failsafe if sites fail to come forward as scheduled in our delivery plan (see table 6.2). This will ensure delivery throughout the plan period to 2035 and in particular will ensure that the Council can maintain a rolling five year housing supply.

6.6.3 It is also clear that the full identified net capacity of allocated sites is set out in Policy SP1. For most strategic sites, based on reasonable assumptions in relation to delivery rates, the full quantum of the allocation will not be delivered during the plan period. The expected delivery rates and the residual to be delivered outside of the plan period is shown in the delivery rates table in section 7. Therefore in many cases, only a proportion of the overall capacity figure will count towards the plan target for new homes.

(156) Policy SP1: Growth Strategy

39,350 homes, and a minimum of 24,000 new jobs will be delivered in Central Bedfordshire over the period 2015 to 2035. This number includes around 23,528 homes which are already planned for or built. In order to accommodate the growth required up to 2035 in a sustainable and controlled manner, growth will be distributed throughout Central Bedfordshire, including on land currently designated as Green Belt. Green Belt boundaries will be redrawn for a small number of sites where a strong case can be made that they meet the exceptional criteria tests for removal and allocation for housing.

New homes and jobs will be delivered via a combination of strategic and small – medium scale allocations throughout Central Bedfordshire. Strategic allocations will be made at the following locations:

  • North of Luton (Town Extension) – 4,000 homes and 20ha employment land.
  • M1 Junction 11a – Strategic Employment Area – 45ha
  • Marston Valley (New Villages) – 5,000 homes and 40ha employment land.
  • M1 Junction 13 – Strategic Employment Area – 35ha
  • East of Arlesey (Town Extension) – 2,000 homes
  • RAF Henlow (Mixed Use Specialist Employment) - 130 hectares.
  • East of Biggleswade (New Village) – 1,500 homes
  • A1 Corridor – Biggleswade South - Strategic Employment Area – 60ha

Development will also be brought forward through Neighbourhood Plans, and through medium and small scale extensions to villages and towns throughout Central Bedfordshire.

Planning applications for piecemeal development that prejudices the delivery of allocations set out in this policy will be refused.

(15) 6.7 Small & Medium Sites

6.7.1 In addition to the Strategic Sites identified above, the Plan also allocates 52 small and medium sites for residential development. Ranging in size from 12 up to 650 dwellings, and spread throughout Central Bedfordshire, these can be brought forward for development more quickly than larger sites, and so aid delivery. These smaller sites will also provide better choice in the market, opportunities for SME builders, and enable our settlements to grow in ways that are sustainable, and respect and enhance the character and identity of our settlements and countryside.

(10) 6.8 Neighbourhood Planning

6.8.1 Neighbourhood Planning is a new way of allowing neighbourhoods to have a say in the statutory land use planning of their own areas. The Council is supportive of Neighbourhood Plans and support will be given to those communities who choose to produce a Neighbourhood Plan.

6.8.2 Neighbourhood Planning must arise from the community, with individuals and groups working in partnership with local businesses, developers and landowners in the area, to deliver sustainable development to meet the community's needs for the future.

6.8.3 There are two 'tools' for neighbourhood planning that may be produced;

  • Neighbourhood Plans which may allocate land outside of Green Belt for development and/or include policies against which planning applications are judged,
  • Neighbourhood Development Orders which can grant planning permission for a specific type of development

Neighbourhood Plan Areas Outside of Green Belt

6.8.4 When proposing allocations, a robust assessment of all alternative sites available will be required to show that the most sustainable locations have been selected. The status of allocations made through the neighbourhood planning process is in effect, the same as if made by the Council through a site allocations development plan document because Neighbourhood Plans become part of the formal development plan for Central Bedfordshire, upon adoption.

Neighbourhood Plan Areas in Green Belt

6.8.5 Neighbourhood Plans cannot however allocate land for development in the Green Belt as changes to the Green Belt can only be made through a review of the Local Plan. Instead they can include aspirations for the future, which may include a recommendation that the Green Belt boundary is altered to allow for a specific development in a future Local Plan Review. This Plan has taken into account aspirations from Neighbourhood Planning Groups in Green Belt settlements when determining draft allocations.

Delivering Homes through Neighbourhood Plans

6.8.6 In view of the fact that the progress of Neighbourhood Plans is outside of the control and jurisdiction of the Council, no specific target for the delivery of new homes has been attributed to Neighbourhood Plans. Therefore any new homes delivered through neighbourhood plans in addition to the small and medium sites proposed as draft allocations, will effectively be treated as 'windfall'.

(57) 6.9 Housing Target

Table 6.1: Derivation of Local Plan Housing Target

a) Objectively Assessed Housing Need for Central Bedfordshire


b) Unmet Need from Luton


Total houses to be delivered over period 2015 – 35 including committed sites


6.9.1 The Plan target is to deliver 39,350 homes over the period 2015-2035. This figure is comprised of Central Bedfordshire's objectively assessed housing need over this period (32,000 homes) with the addition of Luton's residual unmet housing need (7350 homes).

Table 6.2 Commitments at 31st September 2017

Type of commitment

Number of dwellings expected during the plan period

Net Completions April 2015 – Oct 17


Existing allocations


Strategic sites (with planning permission)


Large windfall (with planning permission)


Small windfall (with planning permission)




6.9.2 The table above sets out the amount of housing which is already allocated by a previous development plan or benefits from planning permission. These are called dwelling commitments and they are expected to deliver 23,528 dwellings during the 2015-2035 plan period. A breakdown of all these commitments can be found in the Housing Trajectory (October 2017).

6.9.3 In addition to the above commitments, evidence set out in the Windfall Topic Paper demonstrates that there is sufficient compelling evidence to justify the addition of a moderate annual windfall allowance from years 6-15 of the plan period in line with the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assesment NPPG. This allowance for windfall is robust and achievable and takes account of other identified housing delivery.

(11) 6.10 Summary of Growth in Central Bedfordshire 2015-2035

Table 6.3 New Housing Growth

6.10.1 The remaining homes will be provided through allocations made in this Plan, with a moderate amount of 'windfall' included in addition to provide a contingency on the plan target.

Proposed Housing Supply

Number of Dwellings Expected in Plan Period

Small and Medium Allocations


Strategic Allocations


Windfall Allowance (post 5 years)


Windfall Allowance (5 year supply period only)




Table 6.4: New Strategic Employment Allocations

Existing Permissions and Allocations

Area (ha)

RAF Henlow specialist employment


B8 Strategic Allocation – M1 Junction 11a


B8 Strategic Allocation – M1 Junction 13


B8 Strategic Allocation – A1 Junction 11


Marston Valley


North of Luton




6.11 Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development

National Planning Policy Framework

6.11.1 In March 2012, the Government published the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The NPPF sets out the Government's planning policies for England and how these should be applied. The NPPF requires that Local Plans are prepared with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. Local Plans must, therefore, be consistent with the principles and policies of the Framework, including the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

(10) Policy SP2: National Planning Policy Framework - Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development

When considering development proposals the Council will take a positive approach that reflects the presumption in favour of sustainable development contained in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Planning applications that accord with the policies in this Local Plan (and, where relevant, with polices in neighbourhood plans) will be approved unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Where relevant policies are out of date at the time of making the decision then the Council will grant permission unless material considerations indicate otherwise; taking into account whether any adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the National Planning Policy Framework taken as a whole; or specific policies in that Framework indicate that development should be restricted.

[5] The National Planning Policy Framework 2012, Paragraph 83

[6] National Infrastructure Commission Report, November 2017

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