Central Bedfordshire Draft Local Plan (July 2017)

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Foreword

Central Bedfordshire has always been a great place to live and work.

We can boast a great location, with stunning countryside from the Chilterns to the Greensand Ridge; alongside attractive market towns, great transport links and plenty of spaces and places to enjoy your leisure time, including unique destinations like Woburn Safari Park, Rushmere Country Park, Shuttleworth and Whipsnade Zoo. These also contribute to our high-performing economy with successful established high-tech industries and innovative small and medium sized enterprises that operate globally but create jobs here.

Our prime location and excellent connectivity means that we have high growth pressures and this is the reason we need to plan for it. We need more homes and particularly homes that you and your families can afford to buy and to rent. It means that we need to continue to create more jobs to grow the local economy and that we need to keep improving our transport networks. It also means that we need to protect and enhance what you love about where you live.

All that means we need to plan positively and carefully for how that will happen, how that will look and how that will help shape Central Bedfordshire.

That is what we've been doing to prepare this first draft of the Local Plan. To do this, we've been listening to you and we'll continue to do so.

We've developed this draft plan with you - through Community Planning events and our Shaping Central Bedfordshire Consultation and we will continue this engagement with you because we want to make sure we get this right.

We want to ensure the growth that we need is in the right place, has the right character and is delivered with the supporting roads, schools and services such as health, as well as retail, leisure and community facilities.

We want homes to be part of communities that not only enhance the identity and character of Central Bedfordshire, but provide the opportunities for residents to achieve a good quality of life. At this stage we need to be flexible and therefore are planning for a range of between 20,000-30,000 new homes. Further work will be undertaken to establish an exact amount when we produce the next version of the Plan.

The options for growth put forward in this draft plan could be delivered in four ways.

This could be in the form of attractive new villages - some connected by lakes and waterways; a new market town; expanding existing towns; and some growth in existing villages where services can support it.

Some of this development will be dependant on improvements to our transport networks, plus the development of critical new infrastructure, like railway routes.

In addition to that, we are planning for between 24,000-30,000 new jobs and for more transport infrastructure, community facilities and open space, while lobbying central government to ensure it is delivered alongside development.

We know, from what you've already told us, that countryside and open spaces are valued, so where we can, we will build on brownfield land as well as enhancing accessibility by creating more country parks, Of course, what we have set out in this draft Local Plan are options for growth and now we want you to have your say on the proposals.

And it's important to remember that the Local Plan will serve us for 20 years, so development won't happen overnight. It's a long-term vision to ensure that it happens in a way that brings maximum benefit to the area and the people who live here. This plan will help us achieve what we've always set out to deliver - maintaining Central Bedfordshire as a great place to live and work.

Cllr Nigel Young Executive Member for Regeneration and Business

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