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B1 The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 has introduced a new system for the preparation of development plans. Under the new system there will be two key elements to the development plan:

  • The Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) incorporating, in Bedford’s case, the Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy, prepared by the regional planning body; and
  • The Local Development Framework, to be known locally as the Bedford Development Framework, to be prepared by the Borough Council.

The new system will gradually replace the current regional, county and local plans.

B2 The Bedford Development Framework will be made up of a number of documents. The documents which the Council proposes to prepare by the end of 2007 are set out in the Council’s Local Development Scheme and summarised below:

  • The Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan - setting out the spatial vision for the Borough as a whole and the objectives and strategic policies to guide development.
  • Bedford Town Centre Area Action Plan - setting out a vision for the town centre along with allocations and policies to implement that vision.
  • Statement of Community Involvement (Adopted 17th May 2006) - giving the Council’s approach to involving the community and stakeholders in the production of the Bedford Development Framework.

B3 Both the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan and Bedford Town Centre Area Action Plan are termed development plan documents as they will form part of the new development plan. Along with the Statement of Community Involvement they must be prepared in accordance with a process which includes examination by an independent Inspector who will produce a binding report.

B4 In addition, the Development Framework will also include supplementary planning documents providing detailed guidance on a number of policy areas. Three of these have already been approved by the council:

  • The Bedfordshire Community Safety Design Guide - identifying the design principles which will assist in planning out crime.
  • Land north of Bromham Road Biddenham: Design Guide - giving detailed guidance for this major site.
  • Shopfronts and Advertisements in Conservation Areas Design Guide - covering design of shopfronts and advertisements in conservation areas.

B5 The final element of the Development Framework is the Annual Monitoring Report which will monitor progress against key indicators and targets and if plans need to be changed the Local Development Scheme can be adjusted.


B6 The purpose of the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan is to provide the basis for decisions about the planning of the borough by setting out a spatial vision and spatial objectives; from these are developed the policies and proposals required to deliver the vision. In addition to the policies the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan also contains a Key Diagram to illustrate the key features of the plan.

B7 Underlying the process of preparing the plan is a simple set of questions that have helped to structure the plan.

  • Where are we now?
    What is the borough like today and what are its key social, physical and economic characteristics? What are the main issues facing the borough? This analysis forms the basis of the spatial portrait.
  • Where would we like to be?
    Looking forward to the end of the plan period, how do we hope the borough will have changed and developed? This forms the basis of the plan's vision and objectives.
  • How do we get there?
    The plan’s policies are the means of delivering the vision.

Initial consultations included:

  • A number of facilitated workshops for members of the Citizens’ Panel, stakeholders and elected council members held in July 2005 to discuss the issues which the plan should address.
  • Awareness raising through Bedford News, the council’s website and a leaflet distributed to a range of consultees seeking comments on the issues.
  • Consultation on policy options document circulated to council members, local councils and other consultees outlining possible policy approaches.
  • A specific consultation with parish councils on possible policy approaches for the rural areas, in particular the approach to be taken in developing a rural settlement hierarchy.

B9 The council then produced and consulted on the preferred option plan. The representations received were taken into account in producing the submission plan.

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