Central Bedfordshire Draft Local Plan (July 2017)
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.
1.2.1 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 the Duty to Co-operate, to ensure that cross-boundary issues like East West Rail, housing need and jobs are not planned for in isolation.
1.2.4 In addition, the government's most recent publication, the Housing White Paper (February 2017) urges 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. This Plan has responded positively to these issues.
1.2.5 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, 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 Oxford-Cambridge Expressway and associated high tech employment led growth.
1.2.6 In order to complement the proposals for the Corridor arising from the NIC report, the Council is actively leading and driving forward a co-ordinated approach to enhanced growth within the central area of the NIC corridor and is leading on a joint response to the NIC Discussion paper as well as a initiating a Memorandum of Understanding outlining how the central corridor authorities will work together to identify a high-level joint spatial strategy for the delivery of comprehensive economic-led growth across the corridor through the local planning process.
1.2.7 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.
1.3.1 In response to these opportunities, an extensive new evidence base has been commissioned, which together with public consultation and engagement such as the Shaping Central Bedfordshire consultation and Community Planning work (outlined in sections 3, 4 and 5) 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 beyond the current plan period.
1.4.1 While this first draft of the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan includes broad policies for steering and shaping development, and other more detailed policies for determining planning applications, it does not at this stage include allocation policies for specific sites. These will feature in the next draft of the plan in spring 2018 known as the pre-submission plan.
1.4.2 Instead this plan shows a number of 'growth locations'. These are wider areas either around existing settlements or that broadly follow new settlement scale proposals. The Plan proposes growth location options that could accommodate more homes than will be required at this stage; the next version of the plan will further narrow these down to a shortlist of preferred site allocations.
1.4.3 Small and medium scale sites have not been included in this version of the plan as the balance of those needed will be determined by the number and scale of strategic sites that are ultimately taken forward. Once the scale of small and medium sites is determined, further work will be undertaken to identify which sites will be taken forward as allocations in the next version of the plan.
1.6.1 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.
1.6.2 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 listed at Evidence base documents. 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
1.6.3 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 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.
1.6.4 In order to ensure the Duty to Cooperate (DtC) is fully discharged, the Council has held regular DtC meetings with all neighbouring authorities and 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 identifies specific cross-boundary issues that need to be discussed. Whilst the Localism Act identifies that the DtC is not a duty to agree, it is the aspiration of the Council that any cross-boundary issues identified are resolved in an open and transparent manner.
1.7.1 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.
1.8.1 The Local Plan documents are available for inspection at the following addresses:
- Council's website: www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/localplan
- Council Offices
- Priory House, Monks Walk, Chicksands, SG17 5TQ
- Watling House, High Street North, Dunstable, LU6 1LF
1.9.1 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:
1.9.2 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.
1.9.3 The consultation runs for eight weeks from Tuesday 4th July to Tuesday 29th August at 5pm.
 National Infrastructure Commission Interim Report, November 2016