Sustainability Appraisal - Supplementary Report [EXAM 115/115B]
Updated Policy Review
In order to establish a clear scope for the SA of the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan, it is necessary to review and develop an understanding of the wide range of policies, plans and programmes that are relevant. This includes international, European, national, regional and local-level policies, plans and strategies. Reviewing the aspirations of other relevant policies, plans, programmes and sustainability objectives promotes the systematic identification of the ways in which the SA could help the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan to fulfil them.
The key relevant policies, plans and programmes are outlined below, along with a summary of the implications for the SA. The duty to co-operate places a legal duty on local planning authorities to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis to maximise the effectiveness of Local Plan preparation in the context of strategic cross boundary matters, and as such the surrounding development plans have been reviewed to identify any potential growth constraints in the neighbouring authority areas. The implications of these development plans for the SA have also been summarised.
Key Policies, Plans and Programmes
As of the end of January 2020 the UK has left the EU although a transition period is in place until 31st December 2020. During this period EU rules and regulations will continue to apply to the UK.
As set out in the Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the Brexit amendments, the purpose of the Brexit amendments to the SEA Regulations is to ensure that the law functions correctly after the UK has left the EU. No substantive changes are being made by this instrument to the way the SEA regime operates.
Relevant international plans and policy (including those at the EU level) are transposed into national plans, policy and legislation and these have been considered in the following sections.
There is an extensive range of national policies, plans and programmes that are of relevance to the SA process. A pragmatic and proportionate approach has been taken with regards to the identification of key national policies, plans and programmes, focusing on those that are of most relevance, which are set out below:
- Department for Communities and Local Government, National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), 2012 - the NPPF is the overarching planning framework which provides national planning policy and principles for the planning system in England.
- Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, National Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) - sets out the Government's planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied, and is an on-line resource that is updated on a regular basis.
- Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, National Planning Policy for Waste (NPPW), 2014 – sets out a number of key planning objectives. It also requires that local planning authorities help deliver sustainable development through measures including driving waste management up the waste hierarchy; ensuring that waste management is considered alongside other spatial planning concerns; and providing a framework in which communities can take more responsibility for their own waste.
- Environment Agency, Managing Water Abstraction, 2016 - is the overarching document for managing water resources in England and Wales and links together the abstraction licensing strategies.
- Defra, Waste Management Plan for England, 2013 - sets out the measures for England to work towards a zero waste economy.
- Defra, A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment, 2018 - sets out goals for improving the environment over the next 25 years. It details how the Government will work with communities and businesses to leave the environment in a better state than it is presently.
- Defra, Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England's wildlife and ecosystem services, 2011 - Guides conservation efforts in England up to 2020 by requiring a national halt to biodiversity loss, supporting healthy ecosystems and establishing ecological networks.
- Defra, Biodiversity offsetting in England Green Paper, 2013 - sets out a framework for biodiversity offsetting. Offsets are conservation activities designed to compensate for residual losses.
- Defra Clean Air Strategy, 2019 - sets out the comprehensive action that is required from across all parts of government and society to meet goals relating to ensuring cleaner air. This is to be underpinned by new England-wide powers to control major sources of air pollution, in line with the risk they pose to public health and the environment, plus new local powers to take action in areas with an air pollution problem. The UK has set stringent targets to cut emissions by 2020 and 2030.
- Defra, The National Adaptation Programme and the Third Strategy for Climate Adaptation Reporting: Making the country resilient to a changing climate, 2018 – sets out the strategy for adapting both to the climate change that is already evident, and that which we might see in the future.
- HM Government, Laying the foundations: a housing strategy for England, 2011 – aims to provide support to the delivery of new homes and to improve social mobility.
- Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Planning Policy for Traveller Sites, 2015 - to be read in conjunction with the NPPF, this policy document sets out the Government's planning policy for Traveller sites to ensure fair and equal treatment for Travellers.
- Public Health England, PHE Strategy 2020-25 - identifies PHE's priorities upon which to focus over this five-year period to protect people and help people to live longer in good health.
- Defra and the Environment Agency, Understanding the risks, empowering communities, building resilience: The National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England, 2011 - sets out the national framework for managing the risk of flooding and coastal erosion. It sets out the roles for risk management authorities and communities to help them understand their responsibilities. An update to the document (Draft National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England, 2019) was published for consultation up to July 2019.
- Infrastructure and Projects Authority, National Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2016-2021 - brings together the Government's plans for economic infrastructure over this five year period with those to support delivery of housing and social infrastructure.
- LEP Network, LEP Network Response to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper Consultation, 2017 – seeks to ensure that all relevant local action and investment is used in a way that maximises the impact it has across the Government's strategy. Consultation responses set out how the 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships will work with Government using existing and additional resources to develop and implement a long-term Industrial Strategy.
- Department for Transport, The Road to Zero, 2018 - sets out new measures towards cleaner road transport, aiming to put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles. It explains how cleaner air, a better environment, zero emission vehicles and a strong, clean economy will be achieved. One of the main aims of the document is for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040.
- The Heritage Alliance, Heritage 2020 – sets out the historic environment sector's plan for its priorities between 2015 and 2020.
- Historic England, Corporate Plan 2018-2021 - contains the action plan which sets out how the aims of the corporate plan will be delivered. The plan includes priorities to demonstrate how Historic England will continue to work towards delivering the heritage sector's priorities for the historic environment.
- Historic England, Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment: Historic England Advice Note 8, 2016 - sets out Historic England's guidance and expectations for the consideration and appraisal of effects on the historic environment as part of the Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment processes.
- Anglian Water, Water Resources Management Plan 2019 - identifies the water supply area and forecasts water demand and supply over a 25-year period. The Plan further identifies preferred strategy to demand management.
- Affinity Water, Final Water Resources Management Plan 2020 - 2080 - sets out the pan to provide a reliable, resilient, efficient and affordable water supply to customers from 2020 to 2080, whilst protecting the environment. The plan recognises the need to balance the amount of water available for supply with the demand for water.
- Thames Water, Water Resource Management Plan 2019 - sets out a strategy for how a secure and sustainable supply of water is to be provided for customers for the 80 years from 2020 to 2100.
- Defra and Environment Agency, Anglian River Basin District River Basin Management Plan, 2015 - provides a framework for protecting and enhancing the benefits provided by the water environment. Key information like baseline classification of water bodies, statutory objectives for protected areas, statutory objectives for water bodies and a summary programme of measures to achieve statutory objectives is used to inform land-use planning.
- South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership Strategic Economic Plan, 2017 – sets out a plan to deliver the necessary infrastructure to enable new homes to be built, to provide support to new and existing businesses to enable them to grow, to encourage inward investment, and to ensure that young people improve their skill levels to offer what businesses in the area are seeking.
- Central Bedfordshire Council, Local Transport Plan 3, 2011-2026 - sets out a long-term framework for investment in transport across Central Bedfordshire. It establishes a strategic approach through which to deal with key transport issues, a series of objectives, and broad areas of intervention through which schemes will be identified and improvements made to the transport network.
- Central Bedfordshire Council, Local Area Transport Plans - a total of ten individual localised plans cover Central Bedfordshire, and these establish localised issues and set priority actions and a programme to achieve them.
- Central Bedfordshire Council, Minerals and Waste Local Plan: Strategic Sites and Policies, 2014 - sets out the strategic allocations for mineral extraction and for waste management development in Central Bedfordshire together with strategic policies to guide the ongoing supply of minerals and development of waste management facilities.
- Central Bedfordshire Council, Air Quality Action Plan, 2018 - outlines the action the Council will take to improve air quality in Central Bedfordshire between 2019 and 2024.
- Central Bedfordshire Council, Climate Change Strategy, 2010 - seeks to deliver a robust, cohesive and actionable response to mitigating and adapting to climate change and provides a framework for more detailed delivery plans to be put in place that will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions across the area. In July 2019 the Council unanimously supported a proposal to prioritise responding to climate change. Work is now being undertaken to produce a deliverable plan, which is programmed to be published in 2020 and will support a carbon neutral Central Bedfordshire for 2030 and beyond.
- Central Bedfordshire Council, Carbon Management Plan, 2010 - details how the commitments made in the Climate Change Strategy (see above) will be delivered.
- Bedfordshire and Luton Green Infrastructure Consortium, Bedfordshire and Luton Strategic Green Infrastructure Plan, 2007 - sets a spatial vision for establishing a strategic green infrastructure framework for Bedfordshire and Luton which can be used to guide the development of more detailed Green Infrastructure (GI) plans.
- Greensand Trust, Luton and Southern Bedfordshire Green Infrastructure Plan, 2009 - supplements the Strategic GI Plan (above), providing an assessment of the GI assets and opportunities and identifying a GI network of multifunctional spaces and connections that should be protected and enhanced in the future development of the area.
- Greensand Trust, Mid Bedfordshire Green Infrastructure Plan, 2008 - supplements the Strategic GI Plan (above), providing an assessment of the GI assets and opportunities and identifying a GI network of multifunctional spaces and connections that should be protected and enhanced in the future development of the area.
- Chilterns AONB Management Plan, 2019-2024 – identifies the key issues facing the AONB and the management policies and actions that seek to conserve the special qualities of the area.
- Central Bedfordshire Council, Leisure Strategy, 2014-2019 - provides the evidence base and policy standards/facility requirements to secure new or improved leisure facilities as a result of new housing development, and to support improved health and wellbeing of residents.
- Central Bedfordshire Council, Housing Strategy 2016-2021 - sets out the strategic direction for housing in Central Bedfordshire.
- Central Bedfordshire Council, Rent Strategy 2016/17 - assists in the delivery of new social housing and in providing an offer which is more diverse for the range of people accessing social housing, providing alternatives to traditional social rent.
- Central Bedfordshire Together Local Strategic Partnership, Sustainable Communities Strategy, 2010-2031 - seeks to improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the area and the people who live there. Its sets priorities for the area underpinned by the themes of creating the conditions for economic success and community prosperity and raising standards and tackling inequalities.
- Your Countryside, The Outdoor Access Improvement Plan for Central Bedfordshire, 2013-2031 – provides direction for the current and future management of countryside access, demonstrating how it will support economic potential, provide access to high quality greenspace, improve quality of life, health and wellbeing, and reduce impact on the environment.
- Central Bedfordshire School Organisation Plan, 2018 – 2023 – presents the current level of mainstream and special school provision, to outline planned changes and identify where further action may be necessary.
- M1-A6 Link Road – Central Bedfordshire Council gave consent in September 2019 for the construction of a new strategic road to create a northern Luton bypass running from the A6 to junction 11a of the M1, connecting with the A5-M1 link road. The new M1-A6 link road will be 4.4km long with a dual carriageway to the proposed rail freight interchange at Sundon Park, and then single carriageway connecting to the A6. At the time of writing the proposal is subject to a judicial review, sought by Luton Borough Council.
- Oxford-Cambridge Arc – The Government has identified the land between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge as a unique area for its opportunity to become increasingly connected as an economic asset and knowledge cluster of international standing. The area includes land in Central Bedfordshire taking in parts of the ceremonial county areas of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. It already benefits from a strong position in science, technology and high-value manufacturing. The area also has important relationships with the Midlands, with the M4 corridor, Heathrow Airport, London and the Greater South East. Along with local partners, the Government announced its ambition for the Arc as an area of significant economic potential in March 2019.
- East -West Rail - Originally adopted within the Chancellor's 2011 Autumn Statement, the East-West Rail (EWR) project supports the creation of a new rail link between Oxford, Bicester, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford. The Western Section Phase 1 was completed in December 2016. This involved a double-track upgrade between Oxford and Bicester Village. The Western Section Phase 2 will connect Oxford, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Bedford bringing faster journey times and potentially lower transport costs while easing pressure on local roads. This section is due to see new services introduced from the end of 2024. Options for the preferred route for the central section which runs from Bedford and Cambridge are to be consulted upon, with an initial period of non-statutory public consultation undertaken in early 2019. Communities in Cambourne and the area north of Sandy, south of St. Neots are expected to benefit from this section of the new route.
- A428 Oxford to Cambridge Expressway – The case for a strategic link to connect the cities of 'the Brain Belt' together has been set out following the identification that east-west links in England could benefit from improvement. The Stage 3 Report involved the assessment of the three short listed Expressway options and benefits identified were promising enough to take them forward to the next stage of assessment. A Strategic Outline Business Case was set out for the project which concluded that the Expressway along with other transport interventions, including improved east-west rail connectivity, are critical to overcoming existing local, regional and national infrastructure deficits.
Implications for the SA
Health and wellbeing
The 2012 version of the NPPF sets out the following in relation to health and wellbeing:
- The NPPF promotes the creation of healthy, inclusive communities which facilitate social integration, allow for opportunities for meetings between a cross section of the community, are safe and accessible, and encourage the active and continual use of public areas.
- Local planning authorities should "ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area". To determine the minimum number of homes needed for the plan area a Strategic Housing Market Assessment should be prepared..
- The framework states that "access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation can make an important contribution to the health and well-being of communities".
- The NPPF promotes the retention and enhancement of local services and community facilities in villages, such as local shops, meeting places, sports, cultural venues and places of worship.
The delivery of new housing is considered to support local communities by meeting housing needs and addressing shortages. The SA process can support the identification and refinement of options that can contribute to reducing inequalities and support the development of policy approaches that cumulatively improve the wellbeing of local communities.
Economic and employment policies and plans seek to maximise the economic potential of the area, particularly in relation to the wider economic potential of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and significant growth areas like Milton Keynes.
The 2012 version of the NPPF sets out the following in relation to the economy:
- The economic role of the planning system is to contribute towards building a "strong, responsive and competitive economy" by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth and innovation. There is also a requirement for the planning system to identify and coordinate the provision of infrastructure.
- Planning policies should recognise and seek to address potential barriers to investment, including through establishing criteria for, or identification of strategic sites.
- Local planning authorities should incorporate planning policies which "promote competitive town centre environments" and recognise their position at the heart of their communities supporting their viability and vitality.
- When considering edge of centre and out of centre proposals, preference should be given to accessible sites which are well connected to the town centre. Sustainable growth and expansion of all types of business and enterprise in rural areas should be supported, both through conversion of existing buildings and well-designed new buildings.
- The NPPF requires Local Plans to "set out a clear economic vision and strategy which positively and proactively encourages sustainable economic growth; (and) set criteria, or identify strategic sites, for local and inward investment to match the strategy and to meet anticipated needs over the plan period."
The SA process can support the development of the Local Plan to ensure that its policies are considerate of impacts on the economy in Central Bedfordshire. The process can also be used to demonstrate that impacts on the viability of town centres in the area and surrounding areas have been considered.
The delivery of growth can equally support investment and improvement to local green infrastructure and biodiversity networks, recreational areas, leisure facilities and tourist attractions.
In relation to the promotion of biodiversity, the 2012 version of the NPPF states that:
- The planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment including by minimising impacts on biodiversity and providing net gains in biodiversity where possible.
- Plans should "identify and map components of the local ecological networks, including the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity, wildlife corridors and stepping stones that connect them; and areas identified by national and local partnerships for habitat management, enhancement, restoration or creation". Plans should also promote preservation, restoration and re-creation of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species populations, linked to national and local targets, and identify suitable indicators for monitoring biodiversity in the plan.
- The framework also states that a strategic approach to maintaining and enhancing networks of biodiversity and green infrastructure planning positively for their creation, protection, enhancement and management.
The SA process should support the identification and maximisation of potential benefits through the consideration of alternatives and assessment of both negative and positive significant effects.
At a national level the 2012 version of the NPPF recognises the importance of transport policies in facilitating sustainable development and also in contributing to wider sustainability and health objectives. The transport system should be balanced in favour of sustainable transport; however, the framework recognises that different policies and measures will be required in different communities and opportunities to maximise sustainable transport solutions will vary from urban to rural areas. The framework also encourages local planning authorities to support a pattern of development which, where reasonable to do so, facilitates the use of sustainable modes of transport. Strategies should be developed for the provision of viable infrastructure necessary to support sustainable development.
Growth will inevitably increase traffic on the roads which also has implications for air quality, and the SA process can seek to minimise effects of this nature through appropriately siting new development, identifying where mitigation may be needed and requiring the necessary transport provisions and contributions from new development. The SA should seek to identify opportunities to maximise the potential for alternative modes of transport to the car and reduce the need to travel, therefore reducing emissions, through the consideration of alternatives and assessment of significant effects. This includes potential opportunities that may arise as a result of the delivery of new infrastructure, such as the new East-West rail line.
Energy, waste and climate change
The 2012 version of the NPPF contains the following with regards to these topic areas:
- One of the core planning principles is to "support the transition to a low carbon future in a changing climate, taking full account of flood risk and coastal change and encourage the reuse of existing resources, including conversion of existing buildings, and encourage the use of renewable resources".
- Inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding should be avoided. Where development is necessary, it should be made safe without increasing flood risk elsewhere.
- Local planning authorities should adopt a proactive approach to mitigate and adapt to climate change, taking full account of flood risk, coastal change and water supply and demand considerations.
- To support the move to a low carbon future, local planning authorities should plan for new development in locations and ways which reduce greenhouse gas emissions and actively support energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings.
The SA can consider the contribution the alternatives make in terms of contribution to climate change mitigation as well as climate change adaptation.
The 2012 version of the NPPF states that new and existing development should be prevented from contributing to, being put at an unacceptable risk from, or being adversely affected by, pollutions including water pollution. Plans should take a proactive approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change, taking into account implications for water supply and demand. Furthermore, strategic policies should set out an overall strategy for the pattern, scale and quality of development, and make sufficient provision infrastructure for water supply, wastewater, flood risk and coastal change management.
The Water Resource Management Plans identify water constraints, which future growth has the potential to significantly affect. Evidence suggests that pressure on water resources is increasing, and there is an opportunity for the Local Plan to set aspirational targets for water efficiency and the level of water consumption in any new development.
This not only addresses an existing sustainability issue but will allow for more long-term flexibility in the Local Plan, should the overall level of growth change in the future as a result of new or updated evidence. The SA process should seek to identify and address potential negative effects on the water environment, including implications relating to wastewater.
Land, soils and minerals
Land and soil quality are likely to be affected to some degree by the delivery of new development within Central Bedfordshire.
The 2012 version of the NPPF sets out the following:
- The planning system should protect and enhance geological conservation interests and soils.
- Despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated and unstable land should be remediated and mitigated where appropriate.
- The reuse of previously developed land is encouraged, provided that it is not of high environmental value.
The SA process should inform the development of the Local Plan by helping to identify alternatives which would avoid the areas of highest soil quality and best and most versatile agricultural land, as well as those which would promote the use of brownfield land.
New development has the potential to impact on local landscape character in District. This includes the character of the Chilterns AONB which takes in land in the southern and south eastern portions of Central Bedfordshire.
The 2012 version of the NPPF includes the following planning principles in relation to landscape:
- Recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside.
- Protecting and enhancing valued landscapes. Development should respond to local character and history, and reflect the identity of local surroundings and materials.
- Conserve and enhance landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, The Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The SA should identify those alternatives which contribute positively to landscape character, while avoiding the most significant impacts on the setting of the AONB.
Providing new development in Central Bedfordshire may result in currently disused heritage assets being brought back into positive use. Similarly, new development may have adverse impacts in terms of unsympathetic uses of such assets and development which does not appropriately consider the setting of heritage assets in the plan area and areas surrounding.
The 2012 version of the NPPF states that in relation to the historic environment plans should "set out a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, including heritage assets most at risk through neglect, decay or other threats. This strategy should take into account:
- the desirability of sustaining and enhancing the significance of heritage assets, and putting them to viable uses consistent with their conservation;
- the wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits that conservation of the historic environment can bring;
- the desirability of new development making a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness; and
- opportunities to draw on the contribution made by the historic environment to the character of a place."
The SA has a role to play by identifying which alternatives could offer opportunities to secure the protection and enhancement of assets as well as those which might have significant impacts in terms of their appropriate use and setting.
Surrounding Development Plans
Development in the District will not be delivered in isolation from those areas around it. Given the interconnection between Central Bedfordshire and the surrounding areas there is potential for cross-boundary and in-combination effects where development is proposed through development plans in neighbouring authorities. As such, consideration is given to the following plans for local authority areas which surround Central Bedfordshire. The London Plan is included in this list given the strong relationship between Central Bedfordshire and London in terms of commuting patterns:
- The Luton Local Plan was adopted in 2017 and covers the period 2011-2031. It makes provision for 8,500 net additional dwellings to be delivered over the plan period. A total net additional 18,000 jobs are proposed as the objectively assessed employment need for the Borough.
- The existing North Hertfordshire Local Development Plan was adopted in 1996. The emerging Local Plan set to replace it was submitted for Examination in June 2017 and hearings concluded in March 2018. Once adopted, the new plan will cover the period 2011-2031 and sets to provide at least 14,000 new homes, the majority of which will be provided in the Stevenage area. Additional employment provision in the plan area is to be achieved through new designations at the former Power Station in Letchworth Garden City, east of Baldock and west of Royston.
- The South Cambridgeshire Local Plan was adopted in September 2018. It covers the period 2011-2031 over which 19,500 new homes are to be delivered. Over this same period 22,000 additional jobs are to be created to support the Cambridge Cluster and provide access to a diverse range of opportunities.
- The Bedford Borough Local Plan 2030, was adopted in January 2020 and identifies a need to allocate land to provide a minimum of 3,169 new dwellings in order to ensure that the objectively assessed need for housing of 14,550 homes is met for the period 2015-30. A minimum of 6,900 net additional jobs are to be provided up to 2030 with a focus on the urban area of Bedford and Kempston and existing employment sites.
- The Local Plan for Milton Keynes (Plan: MK 2016-2031), was adopted in March 2019. Within the plan period 2016-2031, the Council is to provide land for a minimum of 30,900 new homes and around 28,000-32,000 additional new jobs are forecast. A total of 132 ha of employment land is required over the plan period and the strategy for Milton Keynes is to capitalise on its position within the Cambridge - Milton Keynes - Oxford corridor as well as continuing to promote development at Central Milton Keynes. New employment land is also to be allocated for employment at South Caldecotte and Milton Keynes East.
- The Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan 2013-2033 is being subject to Examination at present. The Council has worked with the Inspector to agree the modifications to the plan and consulted upon these changes up to December 2019. The plan will cover the period up to 2033 with more than 27,000 homes set to be built during this time. During this same period of time 27ha of employment land is to be delivered.
- Dacorum Borough Council is currently work on producing a new Local Plan, with consultation undertaken on the Issues and Options document in November 2017. The plan is at an early stage and once adopted will replace the saved Local Plan (adopted 2004) and Core Strategy (Adopted 2013) and will cover the period up to 2036.
- St Albans City and District Council Strategic Local Plan 2020-2036 is currently being subject to Examination. Once adopted the plan will cover the period 2020-2036. For this period 14,608 additional homes are to be delivered in the plan area. The plan also makes provision for significant new employment development within the East Hemel Hempstead (central) Broad Location which would provide around 55ha of employment land and up to around 10,000 jobs.
- Huntingdonshire District Council adopted its existing Local Plan in May 2019, which covers the period up to 2036. This replaced the previous Core Strategy which was adopted in 2009. The plan sets out the provision of 20,100 new homes in the District, and directs much of the new development to two strategic expansion locations in Alconbury (4,225 homes) and St Neots East (3,265 homes). The Mayor of London is currently working to replace the current London Plan. Following the Panel of Inspector's report on the New London Plan in October 2019, the Mayor of London issued Intend to Publish version of the London Plan in December 2019. The Secretary of State wrote to the Mayor setting out his consideration of the Mayor's Intend to Publish London Plan in March 2020 and following this the Mayor will consider the Secretary of State's response and take the statutory steps to finalise the Plan. The new London Plan identifies a need for 66,000 new homes each year between 2016-2041 with employment expected to increase on average by 49,000 jobs each year during the same period.
Implications for the SA
The duty to co-operate places a legal duty on local planning authorities to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis to maximise the effectiveness of Local Plan preparation in the context of strategic cross boundary matters. In relation to the need for housing and existing growth restraints within some of the surrounding areas (e.g. Luton), there is the potential that Central Bedfordshire may need to accommodate growth from outside the plan area in the future, to meet the needs of the wider housing market area.
For communities the potential effects largely relate to effective integration, particularly considering the cultural diversity and density of the surrounding towns in comparison to Central Bedfordshire and its predominantly rural landscape and character. Accommodating growth on behalf of neighbouring authorities may also increase densities along the administrative boundary (if the extra growth is delivered in close proximity to the neighbouring authority), and lead to coalescence and loss of individual settlement identities.
Increased growth may also deliver more opportunities for development gains, such as job opportunities, improvements to service and facility provisions, improvements to green infrastructure networks and enhancements of townscape character through regeneration, with the potential for indirect positive effects on communities, health and equalities.
Conversely, additional growth may increase pressures on the highways network and air quality, service and facilities provisions, waste facilities, energy consumption, and natural resources, including water, agricultural land, Green Belt land and greenfield land. Increased growth also has the potential for greater negative effects on landscape and townscape character, the settings of heritage assets, habitats and ecological corridors (through an increased potential for fragmentation).
The SA should seek to ensure that all significant cross boundary issues are identified and addressed. It should also seek to maximise any potential opportunities that could arise through the duty to cooperate. This includes potential enhancements to those designated and non-designated natural environment (watercourses, landscape, biodiversity and heritage) assets and networks that cross local authority boundaries as well as potential opportunities for the provision of infrastructure that could have benefits for local communities.
 Explanatory Memorandum to the Environmental Assessments and Miscellaneous Planning (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 No. 1232
 The Central Bedfordshire Local Plan was submitted to government on 30th April 2018. The NPPF was subsequently been revised in July 2018 and was updated further in February 2019. However, the Local Plan is being examined under the version of the Framework (NPPF March 2012) that was in place at the time of the submission of the Local Plan.
 MHCLG (2019) The Oxford-Cambridge Arc: Government ambition and joint declaration between Government and local partners
 East West Rail Consortium: http://www.eastwestrail.org.uk/
 Highways England and Department for Transport (2016) Oxford to Cambridge Expressway Strategic Study
 Highways England (2018) Oxford to Cambridge Expressway: Strategic Outline Business Case
 DCLG (2012) National Planning Policy Framework