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1.1 The Local Plan is an important tool and reference document that will help the Borough Council guide development, and assess proposals that are submitted as planning applications. It sets out a wide range of policies and proposals positively to encourage development to occur in suitable forms and locations with the aim of improving the quality, convenience and sustainability of the environment in which we live and work.

1.2 The preparation, structure and scope of the Local Plan is consistent with the national guidelines provided by various Acts of Parliament, Circulars and Regulations. It has been prepared in the context of corporate "Aims and Objectives" and supports the various other strategies being pursued by the Borough Council. Thus its content and direction is firmly based on local conditions, needs and aspirations although to some extent the full effect of these on the Plan may be restrained by national policy and the policies of the County Council.

1.3 The Deposit Draft County Structure Plan 2011 was published at the same time as the Consultation Draft of this Borough Local Plan and has subsequently been adopted. This together with the results of public consultation, has prompted changes in the Borough Local Plan including the extension of the period covered by this Local Plan to 2006. Links to the previous 3rd Alterations Structure Plan are therefore superseded. The impact and scale of such changes was to a degree anticipated by the Consultation Draft Local Plan in so far as the ultimate capacity of identified housing sites exceeded the requirement to 2001 and were in any case fully consistent with Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (RPG9).

1.4 The preparation of the plan has been guided by an ongoing environmental appraisal which started by looking at a structured set of aims and objectives from which detailed policies and proposals have been formulated. These demonstrate the overall direction of the plan and what it seeks to achieve. Inevitably the scope for a planning and land use document to make dramatic change during the plan period is limited, but it is nevertheless important to make progress toward improving social and economic conditions and both the local and global environment.

1.5 In addition the plan builds on the former adopted Bedford Borough Local Plan 1993, rolling forward the development requirement and expanding on key areas of policy, for example those affecting the environment.

1.6 The process of preparing the Local Plan has followed a number of specific steps that are designed to ensure that local people and a wide range of interests have contributed to and influenced the plan, its policies and proposals. The Consultation Draft Borough Local Plan was published in February 1995. That document was revised and the Deposit Draft Bedford Borough Local Plan was placed on deposit in February 1997. Over 2,300 objections and supporting representations were received and considered by the Council. Those objections which could not be resolved were considered at a Local Plan Inquiry which was held between February 1999 and January 2000. The Inquiry was conducted by an independent Inspector, Mr C J Hoile MA(Oxon), DipTP, MRTPI and his report was published in May 2001.

1.7 The Inspector's report included a large number of recommendations which have been considered very carefully by the Council. As a result, the Council published Proposed Modifications in September 2001 and these too attracted objections and supporting representations. All of these were considered fully before the Council resolved to adopt the Local Plan. The Notice of Adoption was published on 20th October 2002.

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