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D / OPPORTUNITY SITES

OPPORTUNITY SITES

Site 1 Land at Lime Street / Harpur Street

Site 2 Former Granada Cinema site, St Peter’s Street /Lurke Street

Site 3 Pilgrim Square

Site 4 Former Howard Congregational Church, Mill Street

Site 5 Riverside Square

Site 6 South side of St Paul’s Square

Site 7 Castle Lane

Site 8 Kingsway

Site 9 St John’s Station

Site 10 Ex-railway sidings east of Cauldwell Walk

Site 11 Land to west of Prebend Street

Site 12 Land south of Ford End Road

INTRODUCTION

D.1 One of the main objectives of the Local Plan is to regenerate parts of the urban area which appear rundown, under-used and derelict, whilst ensuring full integration with the existing built fabric. Policy S2 recognises that several of the sites in the urban area will only come forward given favourable market conditions. These have been termed 'opportunity sites', and there are several within the town centre, and in the wider urban area, that have potential for redevelopment or refurbishment. Opportunity sites are not firm allocations, they are included in order to stimulate interest from landowners, developers and other interested parties. Any proposals arising should respect the policies of this plan and in particular, policies BE1 and BE2 concerning mixed use development, BE24 concerning archaeology and where appropriate take account of the floodplain.

OPPORTUNITY SITES IN THE TOWN CENTRE

D.2 Most of these sites are located on the fringe of the main retail core. Where this occurs, uses other than retail are likely to be the most viable, although this does not rule out an element of specialist retailing within each site. Details of the individual sites are listed below along with an indication of its potential use. The larger sites will be the subject of detailed development briefs to be prepared at a later date.

Site 1: LAND AT LIME STREET/HARPUR STREET

D.3 This is a prominent corner site with frontages to both Lime Street and Harpur Street. Eagle Court lies to the north and the Probation Service offices to the east. Although the site has previously been identified for offices, residential use may be a suitable alternative provided there is no significant impact on the development by the adjoining club. The site also provides the opportunity to extend the specialist shopping currently present in Lime Street, and create a more active frontage to the northern side of the street. Any proposal should therefore include an element of retail use on the ground floor, along the Lime Street frontage.

Site 2: FORMER GRANADA CINEMA SITE, ST PETER'S STREET/LURKE STREET

D.4 This site has frontages to both St Peter's Street and Lurke Street and includes both the former Granada cinema site and adjacent car park. The site has now been redeveloped for retail purposes.

Site 3: PILGRIM SQUARE

D.6 This lies to the west of the town centre and consists of an L-shaped site with frontages to Greyfriars, Greenhill Street, Thurlow Street, Allhallows and Midland Road. Outline planning permission granted in 1992 for a mixture of retail, restaurant and offices with public conveniences, a relocated bus station and car parking, has now expired.

D.7 This site represents the key redevelopment opportunity in the town centre and Policy SH4 outlines the Borough Council's requirements in terms of design and layout.

Site 4: FORMER HOWARD CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, MILL STREET

D.8 This site consists of the former Howard Congregational Church which is a Grade II listed building. The building has now been converted to night club use.

Site 5: RIVERSIDE SQUARE

D.10 This site is used as a car park and is one of the prime riverside sites in Bedford. With the recent relocation of Bedford Market, it provides a key opportunity to introduce new uses onto this important riverside site in conjunction with an improved Queen's Walk and a proposed footbridge linking Batts Ford with St Mary's Gardens. Provision should also be made for pedestrians to gain access to the river frontage from Horne Lane and a new public space may be appropriate in order to support more activity along the riverside. Potential uses include leisure, offices, cultural and residential in the form of a mixed use development. The site also provides the opportunity to incorporate a quality riverside pub or restaurant. The implications of the loss of the current car park facility will also have to be fully considered. It should be noted that this site is potentially at risk of flooding as it is in the River Great Ouse floodplain.

Site 6: PROPERTIES ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF ST PAUL'S SQUARE

D.12 This site comprises the buildings on the southern side of St Paul's Square, most of which are listed as being of special architectural or historic interest. The largest of these is the Shire Hall which currently accommodates the Magistrates Courts.

D.13 The buildings to the east of the Shire Hall have remained vacant for many years and their future use is linked to the Magistrates Courts Committee’s requirements relating to the use of the Shire Hall. The MCC is pursuing the possibility of constructing the Magistrates Court elsewhere. Potentially, therefore the entire southern side of the Square could be vacant within the plan period.

D.14 This group of buildings forms an important part of the town's heritage and it is imperative that suitable uses are found to ensure their survival. In order to achieve this, a pragmatic approach to their conservation will be required which acknowledges the whole setting of St. Paul’s Square and recognises that some alterations will be required to adapt the buildings to meet the requirements of new users.

D.15 In addition, the eastern portion of the site which fronts onto the High Street has potential for redevelopment. This is known as the Bank building site. Redevelopment should be carried out in conjunction with the renovation of the adjoining properties to ensure a comprehensive approach to the regeneration of the site. Potential uses for this part of the site and the buildings to the east of the Shire Hall include offices and residential. Once the Magistrates Courts are vacated, institutional, museum, cultural, office or hotel uses may be appropriate. Opportunities for the introduction of a quality pub/restaurant along the river frontage should also be explored. It should be noted that this site is potentially at risk of flooding as it is in the River Great Ouse floodplain.

Site 7: CASTLE LANE

D.16 This site has been identified for redevelopment for many years. In 1991, the Borough Council published a development brief for this site, outlining the main constraints and giving guidance as to its layout and use. This included about 7500m2 of offices, 1000m2 of new retail floorspace, a new Central Library including a performance facility, car parking etc.

D.17 Since then, many of these uses have ceased to be viable and funding for the new library has not been forthcoming. The Local Plan provides the opportunity to take stock and reappraise the site’s development potential. It is intended that a revised development brief will be prepared.

D.18 In considering any redevelopment proposals, the Borough Council will be mindful of the site’s importance as the historic core of Bedford. Consequently, any proposals will have to adequately accommodate both the site’s heritage and tourism potential including the operation of the Museum and Art Gallery. Furthermore, as part of the Borough Council’s Embankment Renaissance Project an enhancement scheme is proposed for the Castle Mound and Gardens. It is anticipated that any mixture of proposed uses may have a higher proportion of housing than was previously the case.

D.19 Because this site is in multiple ownership, any proposals will be considered in the context of the entire site. A comprehensive rather than a piecemeal approach to development will therefore be essential. It should be noted that this site is potentially at risk of flooding as it is in the River Great Ouse floodplain.

OTHER URBAN OPPORTUNITY SITES

Site 8: KINGSWAY

D.20 Coupled with surface level car parks and other land in Melbourne Street, including potentially surplus railway land, there would seem to be the opportunity for major remodelling and redevelopment of this site. The proposal to divert the Bedford-Bletchley railway line partially infringes on the temporary Bedford Hospital South Wing car park and the issue of car park provision will therefore need to be addressed in any comprehensive development scheme. The site also falls within the safeguarded area of the Bedford Transport Development Plan. Kingsway is an important route within Bedford and its rundown and cluttered appearance is viewed as an investment disincentive for the town as a whole. The Borough Council would be likely to encourage proposals that incorporate a mixture of uses including housing and office based employment. Part of the site has now been developed for residential purposes.

Site 9: ST JOHN'S STATION

D.21 The southern corner of this site has been developed for residential purposes and the site is also a safeguarded area within the Bedford Transport Development Plan. The implementation of the Bedford Transport Development Plan and the relocation of St. John’s Station, presents an opportunity for surplus railway land to be used for employment based development and/or residential use (subject to significant environmental works to reduce the impact of nearby non-residential uses). The Borough Council would wish to see the nature conservation interest in this area protected. It should be noted that this site is potentially at risk of flooding as it is in the River Great Ouse floodplain.

Site 10: EX-RAILWAY SIDINGS EAST OF CAULDWELL WALK

D.22 This area comprises operational rail sidings, a number of small scale sites based industries and overgrown vacant land. In its current state it is a wasted asset and is an eyesore especially when viewed from the mainline railway approach to Bedford; as such it is an investment disincentive to the town as a whole. The Borough Council is keen to explore with landowners and adjacent major employers what alternatives may be appropriate that will maximise the utilisation and image of the site. Any development concept should include the provision of open space in this location. It should be noted that this site is potentially at risk of flooding as it is in the River Great Ouse floodplain. (See Fig 30)

SITE 11: LAND TO WEST OF PREBEND STREET

D.23 This site has now been developed for residential purposes.

Site 12: LAND SOUTH OF FORD END ROAD

D.24 This site forms part of the Single Regeneration Budget Bid and comprises vacant Railtrack and British Gas land. Development is encouraged in the context of the Queens Park Regeneration Strategy and following reclamation. A development brief has been adopted for this site and additional land to the north. The brief shows a mixture of residential and employment uses and the provision of comprehensive access arrangements to serve both areas of land and to facilitate a new access to the adjacent brewery. Any development must take into account the surrounding land uses and constraints. Any scheme should incorporate appropriate open space provision, landscaping and an open landscaped link through to the river. It should be noted that this site is potentially at risk of flooding as it is in the River Great Ouse floodplain. (See Fig 32)

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