Central Bedfordshire Pre-submission Local Plan (January 2018)

Ended on the 22nd February 2018
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(52) 1 Introduction

(8) 1.1 What is the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan?

1.1.1 The Central Bedfordshire Local Plan is the key strategic planning document for Central Bedfordshire and will guide and support the delivery of new infrastructure, homes and jobs. It sets out the long-term vision and objectives for the area, what is going to happen, where, and how this will be achieved and delivered over the next 20 years.

1.1.2 Local Planning has a crucial role to play in delivering the Council's vision of enhancing and maintaining Central Bedfordshire as 'a great place to live and work'. It is important to note that all policies within the local plan will apply to all development where appropriate.

1.1.3 This Pre-Submission version of the Local Plan sets out the Council's strategy for meeting the area's needs until 2035.

1.1.4 This final version of the plan will be submitted to the Secretary of State later in spring 2018 for it to be examined by an independent Planning Inspector. The plan will be submitted together with the representations which are received on it during the Proposed Submission consultation and the evidence which has been prepared to support its policies and proposals.

1.1.5 The main sections are as follows:

  • Chapter 1 explains the process, how this plan fits within the planning system and where and how to comment, the role of the independent examination and what happens next;
  • Chapter 2 gives background about Central Bedfordshire and the main issues that the Plan needs to consider;
  • Chapter 3 describes the process so far – comments and views submitted on the draft Plan and through community engagement
  • Chapter 4 provides a short summary of our overall vision and strategic objectives;
  • Chapter 5 sets out how we propose growth should be distributed across Central Bedfordshire;
  • Chapter 6 provides a general overview of the proposed large scale growth locations;
  • Chapter 7 is concerned with implementation and delivery and how the overall plan targets are calculated;
  • The chapters that follow are then themed by topic area

(15) 1.2 National and Sub-Regional Context

1.2.1 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the presumption in favour of sustainable development, and for Local Plans this means that opportunities to meet the development needs of an area for new homes, jobs and infrastructure must be positively planned for at a local level.

1.2.2 The government also requires that every local authority area has an up-to-date, sufficiently ambitious plan in place so that growth is truly plan-led. This is in everyone's interests, as it means that growth can be effectively managed and strategies for delivering it are developed with the benefit of input from the local community.

1.2.3 Local authorities are also required to work constructively with their neighbours and other bodies under Duty to Co-operate, to ensure that cross-boundary issues like East West Rail (EWR), housing need and jobs are not planned for in isolation.

1.2.4 In addition, the Government's most recent Housing White Papers (February 2017 and September 2017) urge local authorities to make more land available for homes in the right places by maximising the contribution from brownfield land, releasing more small and medium sized sites, and making it easier to build new settlements.

1.2.5 The Industrial Strategy White Paper (December 2017) also sets outs the Government's vision to enhance Britain's industrial competiveness through investment in research and development, digital infrastructure, transport shift and a focus on key sectors like the automotive industry. With an existing cluster around Nissan in Cranfield and the Millbrook Proving Ground, and with huge opportunities for research and development at the new business parks planned in the Marston Vale and south of Biggleswade, the Plan has responded positively to this direction of travel.

1.2.6 Central Bedfordshire is already one of the most highly connected areas but due to its unique location in the centre of the Oxford-Cambridge Corridor[1], there are a number of key opportunities that this plan is positioned to take full advantage of; including the proposed East West Rail Link (EWR), the Cambridge - Milton Keynes - Oxford Arc and associated high tech employment led growth.

1.2.7 In order to exploit the wider opportunities in the Corridor highlighted in the National Infrastructure Commission Report, the Council is actively leading and driving forward a co-ordinated approach to enhanced growth within the central area of the Corridor and is leading on the identification of a high-level, joint, spatial strategy for the delivery of comprehensive economic-led growth across the corridor through the local planning process.

1.2.8 In order to recognise the levels of growth envisaged, it is likely that a step-change in delivery mechanisms will be required. Central Bedfordshire Council is therefore also actively exploring alternative delivery mechanisms including:

  • offsite manufacturing and other modern methods of construction;
  • support for small and medium-sized housebuilders, as well as the larger firms; and
  • self and custom-build development through provision of serviced plots

(6) 1.3 Developing the Spatial Strategy

1.3.1 In response to these opportunities, an extensive new evidence base has been commissioned the results of which, together with public consultation and engagement such as the Shaping Central Bedfordshire consultation and Community Planning work has led to the development of a robust and balanced strategy. The strategy identified is considered to be the most appropriate for Central Bedfordshire given the complexity of the area and the variety of issues and factors that need to be taken in to consideration. It is fully expected that the strategy identified will deliver significant growth with clear economic, environmental and social benefits over the next 20 years as well as laying the foundations for future sustainable growth to be considered in strategic growth locations to be considered in a Partial Plan Review.

(15) 1.4 Calculating Housing Need and the Plan Target

1.4.1 The Government published a new standardised methodology for calculating housing need in September 2017 which meant a significant 60% increase in the number of homes that would be required to be delivered per annum (1600 homes – 2553 homes) to meet just our own housing need. The Council consider that while the OAN is likely to rise over time further work is needed on factors specific to Central Bedfordshire before a new approach can be supported and is looking to commission additional studies for the relevant Housing Market Area, together with neighbouring authorities.

1.4.2 This approach leads to a Plan target of 39,350 homes to deliver up to 2035. This includes 23,528 homes that are already planned for or built and a proportion of 'unmet housing need' from Luton. More detail on this approach can be found in Section 6 and the numbers are set out in Table 6.1.

(20) 1.5 Partial Plan Review

1.5.1 While the potential of Central Bedfordshire to play a core role in relation to the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc is acknowledged in the recent National Infrastructure Commission reports, and the Government's response in the Autumn Budget 2017; the timing, service and route selection for new strategic road and rail infrastructure, needs further development and definition. Related issues such as potential for capacity upgrades of the A1 have still to be resolved. These decisions, for example on new east-west rail stations, will have a major impact on the scale of development and growth potential at strategic sites.

1.5.2 The Council is therefore putting in hand a further assessment of the Identified Areas for Future Growth to run alongside emerging decisions on strategic infrastructure routes, timing and services, together with provision of wider infrastructure and delivery support. This assessment will inform a Partial Review of this Plan which will contribute to the ongoing work in the Central Corridor Area. The Partial Review is proposed to start within six months of adoption of this Plan and complete as soon as decisions on routeing and financial commitment to strategic infrastructure are in place.

(7) 1.6 Plan Process

(30) 1.7 Requirements of Plan making

1.7.1 This draft Plan has been prepared under the legislative provision of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and appropriate regulations including the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012. The draft Plan has taken into account national planning policy, currently set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (Department for Communities and Local Government [DCLG], 2012), Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (DCLG, 2015) and the web based published Planning Practice Guidance.

Evidence base

1.7.2 The Council's policies must be backed up by credible, robust and proportionate evidence that supports the approach taken and justifies what is proposed. The evidence base for this Plan is extensive and is available on the Council's website at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/localplan It is the Council's job to balance all of the evidence and find the most suitable way forward. This evidence base includes research on housing, employment, retail, Green Belt and flooding as well as the views of local people, businesses, landowners, developers and public agencies involved in the area.

Duty to co-operate

1.7.3 In accordance with the 'Duty to Co-operate' set out in the Localism Act 2011 the draft Plan has been produced through close partnership working with the neighbouring authorities and relevant bodies under the Act to ensure that sub-regional and cross boundary planning issues have been taken into account. This work under the 'Duty to Cooperate' replaces the role of regional planning.

1.7.4 In order to ensure the Duty to Cooperate (DtC) is fully discharged, the Council has held regular DtC meetings with all neighbouring authorities and other DtC Bodies and will continue to do so throughout the plan-making process. So as to focus discussions on the relevant cross-boundary issues, in partnership with each neighbouring authority, Central Bedfordshire has initiated the production of 'Strategic Frameworks'. These documents set out the commitment from Central Bedfordshire to actively engage with our neighbours throughout the local plan process and identify specific cross-boundary issues that need to be discussed. These also form the foundation for the Statements of Common Ground that will be produced in advance of the submission of this Plan.

1.7.5 As referenced earlier in this section, this strategic cross boundary working is not confined to our immediate nine neighbouring authorities but extends right across the wider corridor area as a result of the identification of the Oxford-Cambridge arc as a key area for growth.

(1) 1.8 Which Documents Will This Local Plan Replace?

1.8.1 This Local Plan once adopted replaces the North Core Strategy and Development Management Policies Document (2009) and the majority of the remaining policies within the South Bedfordshire Local Plan (2004), the Mid Bedfordshire Local Plan (2005) and the remaining saved policies of the Bedfordshire and Luton Minerals and Waste Local Plan (2005) so far as they affect Central Bedfordshire. Those residual site allocations in the north Site Allocations Document (2011) that are not already built out will remain in addition to the Minerals and Waste Local Plan – Strategic Sites and Policies (2014) which will sit alongside this new Local Plan once adopted forming the Development Plan for Central Bedfordshire.

(2) 1.9 Where to view Local Plan documents

1.9.1 The Local Plan documents are available for inspection at the following addresses:

(9) 1.10 About this consultation

We are now undertaking a final consultation before we submit the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who will, in turn, appoint an independent Planning Inspector who will examine the Plan. This is the Local Plan that the Council considers is ready for examination and this is your opportunity to comment on the Plan’s “soundness”, legal compliance and compliance with the Duty to Cooperate before it is submitted to an independent Inspector to be examined.

Legal Compliance

1.10.1 The Inspector will first check that the Plan meets all the necessary legal requirements and compliance with the Duty to Cooperate before considering the tests of soundness. There are five areas to consider when looking at whether or not the Plan is legally compliant. These are:

  • Is the Plan consistent with the Council’s production timetable known as the Local Development Scheme (LDS)?
  • How has the community been involved in the process and has the Council met its Statement of Community Involvement (SCI)?
  • Does the Plan comply with the relevant regulations? (Town and County Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 and the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004)
  • Was a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) Report produced and how it has been carried out?
  • Has the Council complied with the Duty to Cooperate?


  • 1.10.2 There are four areas to consider when looking at whether or not the Plan is sound. To be sound the Plan should be:
  • Positively Prepared - the plan should be prepared based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development;
  • Justified - the plan should be the most appropriate strategy, when considered against the reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence;
  • Effective - the plan should be deliverable over its period and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities; and
  • Consistent with national policy - the plan should enable the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in the Framework.

(9) 1.11 How to make comments

1.11.1 This first draft version of the Plan is a consultation document and so we welcome your comments which can be made online at the following link:


1.11.2 Alternatively comments can be submitted by post for the attention of the Local Plans Team to Central Bedfordshire Council, Priory House, Monks Walk, Chicksands, Shefford, SG17 5TQ.

1.11.3 The consultation runs for six weeks from Thursday 11th January 10am to Thursday 22ndFebruary 2018 at 5pm.

[1] National Infrastructure Commission Report, November 2017

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