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POLICY H10B
Land north of Norse Road. Key principles to include:
i) satisfactory access from Norse Road, safe crossings for pedestrians and cyclists, traffic calming on Norse Road;
ii) off site highway improvements at the Norse Road/ A428 junction as required by the Highway Authority;
iii) enhancement to foot/cycle routes between the development and local amenities;
iv) provision of an informal recreation corridor with opportunities for walking cycling and horse riding;
v) contribution towards the provision of a strategic cycleway adjacent to Norse Road between Church Lane/Hookhams Lane and the Cemetery access;
vi) extensive structural landscaping to assimilate the development into the wider landscape. Landscaping to achieve the long term separation of Salph End and Renhold from the urban area and to maintain strategic views of Renhold Church from Norse Road;
vii) the provision of a network of open space including playing pitch and children’s play facilities;
viii) contributions to the provision of improved public transport facilities and services;
ix) design of the internal transport infrastructure of the development to give priority to public transport, including measures to allow existing bus services to be extended into the development and the provision of a network of safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists with particular regard to safe travel to school routes;
xi) in accordance with Policy H31 the Borough Council will negotiate for affordable housing to be provided on this site.

HOUSING SITES WITHIN THE SOUTH WEST BEDFORD STRATEGIC CORRIDOR

5.31 The Structure Plan 2011 requires a significantly greater scale of housing development south west of Bedford than was envisaged when the consultation draft of this local plan was prepared. The strategic corridor is defined by the Structure Plan and within this area the Borough is proposing to enlarge the villages of Wootton and Stewartby and to create a new settlement focused on Elstow Storage Depot. However, there are major implications in designating development sites in the strategic corridor, since such development will need to be matched by private sector investment to achieve improvements in the physical and social infrastructure. Notable amongst these are the Highway Agency’s requirements to secure significant improvements to the A421 and A6 Trunk Roads and the construction of a new railway station to serve the proposed development at Elstow Storage Depot.

5.31b Proposals in the strategic corridor also fall within the Marston Vale Strategy Area and the Forest of Marston Vale and reference should be made to policies S5 and NE21 and the need to ensure equitable contributions from each development towards necessary and appropriate infrastructure.

Wootton

5.32 Development proposals at Wootton reflect both the Structure Plan 2011 and the fact that development must underwrite the capital investment required by the Highways Agency in the Strategic Corridor. Thus proposals for Wootton have grown in scale following the adoption of the Bedford Borough Local Plan 1993 and the Structure Plan 2011. This revised area is shown on the Proposals Map (Wootton Inset). In order to secure a balance of development, proposals are also made to create an associated employment/ business area. In addition, a small site at Canons Close is identified with a capacity for 9 dwellings.

5.33 The Wootton Development Brief was adopted by the Council in July 1999. The Brief made a commitment to consult concerning the possible closure of Cranfield Road. This has been concluded but detailed arrangements will be resolved as proposals for the development come forward. At the Local Plan Inquiry it was agreed to consult further with the local community on the provision of educational and community facilities (including governance arrangements for the Lower School). These discussions are ongoing and have made significant progress. As a result of these consultations there may be detailed changes to the layout from that shown on the Proposals Map inset and the master plan in the Development Brief.

POLICY H11
Land south of Fields Road, Wootton ~ the development of land in this area shall be undertaken as shown on the Proposals Map and in accordance with the adopted development brief. Key principles of development include:
i) provision of a new road linking the development with Fields Road and Cranfield Road;
ii) a mixed development comprising housing and employment uses including leisure based employment;
iii) contributions towards school provision and the provision of new community facilities either on site or within the existing village centre;
iv) the construction of a roundabout at the junction of Fields Road and the A421 prior to the occupation of the 1st dwelling sanctioned by this policy, and the completion of improvements to the A421 as required by the highway authority, prior to the occupation of the 100th dwelling or within 3 years of the commencement of development, whichever is the sooner;
v) additions to the structural landscaping already in place to assimilate the development in the wider landscape;
vi) a network of footpaths/cycleways connecting the development with the existing built up area of Wootton and the Sustrans cycle route;
vii) the setting out, planting and dedication of the area of proposed Community Forest as shown on the inset to the Proposals Map;
viii) in accordance with policy H31 the Borough Council will negotiate for affordable housing to be provided on this site; and,
ix) contributions to the provision of public transport facilities and services in order to encourage more sustainable journey patterns in particular provision of bus priority measures.
POLICY H12
Land north of Fields Road, Wootton. Development shall be undertaken as shown on the Proposals Map and in accordance with the adopted development brief. Key principles of development include:
i) provision of a new road linking the development with Fields Road;
ii) the construction of a roundabout at the junction of Fields Road and the A421 prior to the occupation of the 1st dwelling sanctioned by this policy, and the completion of improvements to the A421 as required by the highway authority, prior to the occupation of the 100th dwelling or within 3 years of the commencement of development, whichever is the sooner;
iii) a network of footpaths/cycleways connecting the development with the existing built up area of Wootton and the Sustrans cycle route;
iv) the setting out, planting and dedication of the area of proposed Community Forest as shown on the inset to the Proposals Map;
v) contributions towards school provision and the provision of new community facilities either on site or within the existing village centre;
vi) in accordance with policy H31 the Borough Council will negotiate for affordable housing to be provided on this site; and,
vii) contributions to the provision of public transport facilities and services in order to encourage more sustainable journey patterns in particular provision of bus priority measures.

Stewartby

5.35 Development proposals in Stewartby were first signalled in the last Local Plan, but were deleted from the plan on the recommendation of the Inspector. Since then considerable progress has been made on the Marston Vale Strategy, proposals for the Forest of Marston Vale have emerged and the adoption of the County Minerals and Waste Local Plan has clarified a number of issues that were then outstanding. The proposed development extends into Mid-Bedfordshire, and the Borough Council will support its inclusion in the Mid-Beds Local Plan review (see Stewartby Inset).

POLICY H13
Land off Rousbury Road, Stewartby – Development shall be undertaken as shown on the Proposals Map and in accordance with key principles of development including:
i) housing development will proceed in a phased manner from east to west;
ii) the construction of a roundabout at the junction of Green/Hoo Lanes and the A421 prior to the occupation of the 1st dwelling sanctioned by this policy, and the completion of improvements to the A421 as required by the highway authority, prior to the occupation of the 100th dwelling or within 3 years of the commencement of development, whichever is the sooner;
iii) there shall be an adequate separation from the railway and noise attenuation;
iv) the provision of a mixture of land uses including employment, housing, a village shop, a public house (should the need arise), open space, recreational and other facilities listed below in clause x], will be required in order to create a more balanced development;
v) advance structural planting to include the strengthening of the tree belt immediately south of Stewartby Village at Rookery North Pit to provide further off-site environmental screening, extensive structure planting within the boundaries of the site and also planting within the site to sub-divide the housing areas;
vi) specific contributions towards the implementation of the Marston Vale Strategy and the Forest Plan;
vii) the provision of a new road linking Rousbury Road and Broadmead Road to serve the development. Access and egress from the site for construction traffic will be via Broadmead Road only. Access via existing village roads will not be permitted;
viii) all principal roads within the development will have broad landscaped margins, including mounding, tree and shrub planting and footpaths in order to maintain the existing character of Stewartby;
ix) the provision of design guidance, additional to the Borough Council’s ‘Achieving Quality in Residential Layouts’, to ensure that the new development reflects the character of the older part of Stewartby in terms of layout, urban spaces and building design. This to be prepared in conjunction with the Borough Council and approved in advance of the first phase of any housing development;
x) the provision of a landscaping scheme and additional open space provision within the site, improved leisure and sports facilities to the existing sports and recreational ground and Stewartby Club, contributions, where appropriate, towards traffic calming measures in the village, improvements to Montgomery Close in order to improve the environment and provide additional car parking over and above current levels of provision;
xi) improvement of public transport facilities including Stewartby Station;
xii) in accordance with policy H31 the Borough Council will negotiate for affordable housing to be provided on the site;
xiii) there should be an adequate separation from any future clay extraction site at Broadmead Pit and environmental attenuation.

Elstow Storage Depot

5.36 The successful recycling of redundant developed and derelict land – brownfield sites – is a difficult task that potentially yields great benefits in terms of conserving natural resources and moving towards more sustainable forms of development. Elstow Storage Depot has had a chequered history and has been the subject of various proposals none of which have so far been pursued (site for a power station, a prison, a nuclear waste dump etc).

5.37 In identifying Elstow Storage Depot as the focus of a development comprising 4,500 dwellings, the Structure Plan in effect requires the construction of a new settlement that straddles the Borough boundary with Mid-Beds District. This is a major and complex project that will require site assembly, the coordinated provision of social, economic and transport infrastructure and a high level of cooperative and joint working by landowners, developers, the providers of public services, and official agencies. It will also require a high degree of commitment and determination on the part of all those involved. The two Councils resolved to grant planning permission (subject to a section 106 agreement) for the settlement in April 2002.

5.38 The Borough Council has an agreement with Mid- Bedfordshire District Council as to the nominal division of this strategic allocation between the two local planning authority areas for the purposes of monitoring Structure and Local Plan policies (so that dwellings provided in one Council’s plan area may count towards the dwelling requirement in the adjoining Council’s plan area), and for the need to prepare and adopt a joint development brief. A development brief for the new settlement has now been adopted. Given the overall scale of the development, site preparation and required infrastructure, the Borough Council has assessed that only a proportion of the total housing capacity of the project will come forward during the Local Plan period.

POLICY H14
Elstow Storage Depot – Development focused on the Elstow Storage Depot shall be permitted in accordance with the adopted development brief. Key principles of development, to be secured by condition and/or legal agreement, will include:
i) mixed use development to meet the needs of a selfsupporting and balanced community providing employment, leisure, open space and play space, community, social and educational facilities;
ii) the provision of a new railway station on the London- Bedford railway, track, and signalling with ancillary car parking, together with appropriate provision for bus, cycle and pedestrian access, thereby providing a significant facility for modal interchange;
iii) dualling and realignment of the A6 and the provision of two access points to the site between the Bedford Southern Bypass and Bedford Road, Wilstead;
iv) extensive on and off site landscaping, including structural planting and environmental improvement to be achieved as part of the Forest of Marston Vale and the Marston Vale Strategy;
v) arrangements for the relocation of the existing employment uses and the retention of suitable premises;
vi) measures to mitigate traffic impact as indicated by a travel assessment and guided by the requirements of a scoping study, for example on routes to junctions 12, 13 and 14 of the M1, A6, A421 and the B530;
vii) exploration of the potential of any scheme to provide a sustainable energy system, such as combined heat and power to serve the development;
viii) measures to protect the amenity of residential properties adjoining the site and to avoid coalescence with neighbouring settlements;
ix) design of the internal transport infrastructure of the development to give priority to public transport, including measures to allow existing bus services to be extended into the development;
x) provision of a network of walking/cycling links, including links to both Bedford/Kempston and into the rural area surrounding the development in conjunction with the network being developed as part of the Forest Plan and SUSTRANS initiative;
xi) the Council will negotiate for affordable housing to be provided in accordance with an affordable housing brief prepared jointly by the two authorities.

HOUSING SITES IN THE RURAL AREA

FIRST ORDER VILLAGES

5.39 Chapter 2 of this Plan provides the basis for the designation by Policy H1 housing development sites in the rural First Order Villages. Policies H15 to H21 deal with proposed development sites within these villages, (Bromham, Wilstead, Clapham, Sharnbrook, Great Barford and Oakley).

5.40 Bromham has undergone considerable development in recent years and there is more in the pipeline due to existing commitments and potential infill sites. Construction of 65 dwellings at Bromham Hospital was completed in 2002. The strategic policy guidance in the Structure Plan 2011 does not support a further major expansion of Bromham. Indeed it would undermine the strategic aims of the Local Plan. A modest allocation is considered to be justified which together with existing commitments will help to sustain the local community.

POLICY H15
Land off Northampton Road, Bromham – key principles of development include:
i) a satisfactory access will be provided off the Northampton Road in conjunction with off site highway improvements as required by the highway authority;
ii) the development will make provision for a cemetery and open space;
iii) the provision of a network of footpaths/cycle routes within the development linking to existing routes including the bridleway;
iv) extensive structural planting will be required both within the development and in particular in green buffers to the north, south and west of the site;
v) contributions to education provision; and,
vi) in accordance with policy H31 the Borough Council will negotiate affordable housing to be provided on this site.

(See Bromham Inset)

5.41 The Borough Council is of the view that the development of Bromham Hospital is acceptable only up to a limit of replacing the existing footprint of the redundant hospital buildings, and where such development ensures the integrity of Salem Thrift, the mansion house and the parkland character and setting of the site (see Fig 13). A part of the site adjacent to the Salem Thrift is being retained by the Health Authority for the continuing provision of healthcare.

POLICY H16
Bromham Hospital Site – construction complete.

5.42 In comparison, Clapham has not seen such a scale of development in recent years due to limitations imposed by the inadequacy of the foul water drainage system which have now been resolved (methods of surface water drainage however will require agreement with the Environment Agency with a view to securing a positive system for disposal). Construction of the Clapham bypass began in May 2001. The development on land at Clapham Folly will help to sustain the community and support local services. It is well related to the current A6 and forthcoming bypass and is considered best likely to integrate successfully into the existing character of the village and surrounding landscape.

POLICY H17
Clapham Folly, Clapham – planning permission granted.

5.43 Small scale development is proposed in Great Barford in recognition of the need to sustain the local community and support local services. Both strategic policy and highway considerations suggest that more substantial development would be inappropriate.

POLICY H18
New Road, Great Barford – key principles of development include:
i) Satisfactory access to the site from New Road including speed reduction measures;
ii) provision of car parking for church and village use to be accessed from New Road;
iii) extension to the bowls club green and car park;
iv) the provision of extensive structural landscaping to screen the development and provide a buffer between the development and adjacent properties;
v) buildings should be orientated to maintain and enhance views to the parish church;
vi) in accordance with policy H31 the Borough Council will negotiate affordable housing to be provided on this site.

(See Great Barford Inset)

5.44 Development at Sharnbrook is closely linked with the ability of two schemes to provide tangible and worthwhile community benefit to a village that is a centre to quite a wide rural hinterland. The designation at Yelnow Lane secures the future of open space within the village that has nature conservation interest, whilst that to the rear of properties in Odell Road is associated with the expansion of the Sharnbrook Upper School and Community College.

POLICY H19
Land at Yelnow Lane, Sharnbrook – key principles of development include:
i) satisfactory access will be provided from Yelnow Lane with any necessary additional off-site highway improvements as may be required by the highway authority;
ii) the retention of the wooded area to the Yelnow Lane frontage;
iii) the dedication of adjacent land having nature conservation interest including satisfactory arrangements for the protection and future management;
iv) the retention and creation of footpaths and cycleways; and,
v) the provision within the scheme for eleven affordable homes.
POLICY H20
Land south-east of Sharnbrook Upper School, Sharnbrook – key principles of development include:
i) the improvement of the existing access road to the school and any other highway improvements as may be required by the highway authority;
ii) extensive structural planting required on the periphery of the development to screen the new housing from adjoining uses. In addition, off-site planting should be provided on the southern side of the school access road, to screen the development from the western approaches to the village and create a softer edge to Sharnbrook;
iii) the dedication of adjacent land for school purposes, prior to the occupation of the housing development;
iv) contribution to improved footpath and cycleway links between the site and the centre of Sharnbrook in order to facilitate the integration of the new development into the existing built fabric; and,
v) in accordance with policy H31 the Borough Council will negotiate for affordable housing to be provided on this site.

(See Sharnbrook Inset)

5.45 In considering the development potential of Wilstead, regard has been had to its location beyond the Strategic Corridor south west of Bedford, the proximity of Elstow Storage Depot (see Policy H14) and the need to maintain a degree of separation and distinctiveness from this strategic allocation. However since the village is well established a modest development is proposed in order to sustain the community and to support local services.

POLICY H21
Land between A6 and Luton Road Wilstead – key principles of development include:
i) satisfactory access off Luton Road in conjunction with off site highway improvements where appropriate;
ii) extensive structural planting will be required both within the development and in particular in the green buffer to the west of the site sufficient to provide noise attenuation and landscape screening;
iii) the development will include provision for employment uses located to the south of the new housing;
iv) a contribution towards the implementation of the Forest Plan is required;
v) a contribution towards the provision of a new village hall;
vi) buildings should be orientated so as to front onto the open space and footpaths within the site; and,
vii) in accordance with Policy H31 the Borough Council will negotiate for affordable housing to be provided on this site.

(See Wilstead Inset)

OTHER PROPOSALS

5.46a Despite the constraints on development in Oakley, there is scope for some limited growth at land off Pavenham Road, Oakley. This site has a capacity for 14 dwellings that should be set in an extensive landscape framework which should include a substantial buffer on the eastern and northern sides of the site.

5.46 A site off the Meadway Harrold was allocated for housing in the Bedford Borough Local Plan 1993 and was the subject of a draft development brief. This proposal is carried forward into this plan with key development principles that reflect earlier guidance. The site is adjacent to an area that has been prone to flooding from watercourses to the west and south. This will have to be taken into account when any development proposals are brought forward.

POLICY H22
Land off the Meadway Harrold – key principles of development include:
i) development to be served by a single access via the Meadway with off-site improvements as required;
ii) emergency access via Dove Lane and measures to restrict its use to emergency vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists only;
iii) measures to prevent uncontrolled access onto the adjoining County Wildlife Site to the north;
iv) contributions towards the provision of an additional classroom at Harrold Lower School;
v) extensive structural planting and earth mounding within the site along the western boundary to act as a visual and noise barrier;
vi) existing public footpaths on the site boundaries to be maintained and enhanced;
vii) development of the site will not exceed 40 dwellings;
viii) a second vehicular access and parking provision for the adjacent Doctor’s Surgery; and,
ix) in accordance with policy H31 the Borough Council will negotiate for affordable housing to be provided on this site.

(see Harrold Inset)

HOUSING IN SECOND ORDER VILLAGES

5.47 Consultations with Parish Councils have confirmed that there is a concern that a number of communities within the rural area should have some, albeit limited capacity for organic growth in order to maintain the life and vitality of the village. In drawing the boundaries of the Settlement Policy Areas the Borough Council has taken these particular concerns into account and after detailed discussions with the parishes small scale sites for development were identified in some villages.

POLICY H23
In the villages listed, potential has been identified for small scale development as described below and shown on insets to the Proposals Map.
List of village sites

i. Land South of Cople Road, Cardington.

Site capacity: 5

Key principles: Development of the site will be limited to the frontage only with extensive tree planting and noise attenuation measures to the rear of the site. In addition an agreement will be sought requiring the provision of control measures for the nearby grain drier. The development should also make provision for a car park for the adjoining chapel in the interests of highway safety. Contributions will be sought towards the provision of the Forest of Marston Vale. An access which is wide enough to accommodate agricultural machinery should be provided to link Cople Road with the land to the rear of the proposed housing site. Details of this access to be determined as part of the development control process.

ii. Land at West End Lane, Elstow.

Site capacity: 3

Key principles: This is an important ‘gateway’ site on the approach to the village and its conservation area. A very limited number of dwellings will be acceptable, and any scheme must include the restoration/ conversion of the adjoining barn/farm building. Peripheral planting will be required to the western and southern boundaries in order to achieve a ‘soft’ approach to the village. Any proposal should be sensitively designed and be respectful of its position within the Elstow Conservation Area and at one of the main gateways in the village.

iii. Land off Pavenham Road, Oakley

Site capacity: 14

Key principles: The dwellings should be set in an extensive landscape framework which should include a substantial buffer on the eastern and northern sides of the site. Dwellings should be located to take account of the noise environment of the site.

iv. Land off Sandye Lane, Swineshead.

Site capacity: 2

Key principles: This site is suitable for a total of two dwellings with access off Sandye Lane. Development will be restricted to the frontage of the site only. Development on land to the rear will not be permitted. Off -site highway improvements will be required in addition to the provision of a service vehicle turning head.

v. Land off Keysoe Road, Riseley

Site capacity: 4

Key principles: The site is suitable for frontage development only and is divided into two plots. Development of the land to the rear will not be permitted. Off site highway improvements will be required.

vi. Land to the north of School Lane, Roxton.

Site capacity: 5

Key principles: The site has potential for 5 dwellings but the scheme must also include a public car park and a bus turning area at the western end of the site. The northern edge of the site should be extensively planted to provide landscaping.

vii. ‘Village Green’, Spring Lane, Stagsden

Site capacity: 6

Key principles: The village has capacity for a small scale development of 6 houses accessed off Spring Lane in association with the provision of a ‘village green’ formed by incorporating the previously designated Important Open Space.

viii. Newton Road, Turvey

Site capacity: 14

Key principles: No more than 14 dwellings, development limited to northern part of field 0010 to ensure that development is assimilated into the landscape, with extensive peripheral planting particularly in order to protect the views of the site from the west. Satisfactory treatment of any ground contamination will be required prior to development.

ix. Land adjoining the Old Pond House, Upper Dean.

Site capacity: 2

Key principles: This site has potential for two dwellings on land adjoining the Old Pond House. Sensitive design will be required to create a development which is complementary in scale and character to the existing house and enhances its setting. The development should not encroach on the important open space on the frontage of this site.

x. Canons Close, Wootton

Site Capacity: 9

Key principles: The development should be heavily landscaped on its western, southern and northern boundaries.

xi. Church Lane, Wymington

Site capacity: 15

Key principles: To be developed in association with improvement to the existing Church Lane estate, east and north boundaries to be screened from the countryside, off site works may be needed to services and roads.

xii. Land between High Road, Hall Way and Meeting Close, Cotton End

Site capacity: 25

Key principles: The site is contained by existing development on the High Road, Hall Way and Meeting Close. The adjoining land to the north west has planning permission for 13 dwellings and will provide access from the High Road. Development will be required to provide substantial landscaping and adequate gardens for all properties ensuring that there is no loss of amenity for existing residents arising from overlooking. It will be particularly important to provide appropriate separation between the new development and properties adjoining the site on Hall Way. Subject to the submission of a detailed site layout and where the above principles and all other relevant plan policies are met the site capacity may increase to a maximum of 30 dwellings.

xiii. Land south of Bedford Road, Willington

Site capacity: 5

Key principles: This site is suitable for five dwellings with access off Bedford Road. Two dwellings should be built on the frontage to continue the development pattern along Bedford Road with the remainder to the rear. Sensitive peripheral planting will be required along the western and southern boundaries to provide a soft rural edge.

OTHER DEVELOPMENT WITHIN SETTLEMENT POLICY AREAS

5.48 Within the Settlement Policy Areas, the development in addition to that identified in Policies H2 to H23 will only be allowed where there is no detrimental impact on the form and character of the village or loss of residential amenity, important open space and employment land/premises.

5.49 The presence of open space in a village is very important in defining the form and character of a village. The term open space includes any land which is not built on but has a role in giving a village its individual character along with factors such as the materials used for the buildings, the buildings themselves, the street pattern, trees etc. Open spaces may include therefore, the spaces between buildings which help to define the structure and form of a village. A number of important open spaces/views have been identified and are shown on the insets to the Proposals Map. Although different notation is used to identify open spaces and views there is no difference between them in policy terms. In the case of the views identified in the policy it would be impractical for the notation to seek to identify the entire view on the Proposals Map as it may extend some distance from the edge of the village. Instead it is intended that other restraint policies in the plan (eg. BE5 and H26) will afford the protection necessary to maintain the important view beyond the notation. The plan also identifies urban open spaces. The relationship between these and important open spaces is explained in paragraph 3.38.

Open spaces have been identified as important open spaces/views where:

i) they give identity to a settlement or village by helping to retain its form and reflect past history (examples include village green and playing fields), or

ii) a gap or break in the frontage contributes to the character of a settlement for example by providing a view into a village which forms part of the village setting, or

iii) a gap in the frontage provides a view into open countryside establishing the relationship between the form of the village and the countryside beyond, or

iv) gaps provide visual relief in an otherwise built up area punctuating the street scene, or

v) open space assists the transition between village and countryside providing a soft edge to the village which is pleasing visually.

5.53 The fact that non-designated undeveloped land may exist within a Settlement Policy Area, should not be taken to indicate that its development for whatever purpose, will necessarily be found acceptable to the Borough Council.

5.55 Within the SPAs it is expected that the following forms of development will normally be allowed. Small plots within the SPA:

5.56 Within a SPA there may be small plots or gaps in the frontage which may be suitable for development. These plots should normally have a frontage that is compatible with the character of the plots on which existing adjoining buildings are located. Policy H24 sets out the criteria against which the suitability of these sites will be assessed.

Local needs:

5.57 Limited residential development to meet specialised local housing needs which can only be met satisfactorily in a particular locality (in accordance with Policy H30). Other sites within SPAs:

5.58 Within SPAs there may also be some slightly larger plots which could be built upon without harming the character of the village. This may include redundant or under used buildings which are suitable for conversion or redevelopment.

5.59 Consultation with Parish Councils has also confirmed the Borough Council’s concern that the nature of development over recent years has had the effect of forcing young people to leave the villages. It is felt that there is a strong case for encouraging developers to provide one and two bedroom dwellings rather than all larger 3 and 4 bedroomed dwellings.

POLICY H24
Residential development will be permitted within the Settlement Policy Areas where the development proposed:
i) is sensitive to the form and character of the village;
ii) its character and scale is compatible with local building styles and materials;
iii) is of a density appropriate to the form of the village;
iv) has no adverse effect on the overall character of the village or setting of the defined important open spaces in the village;
v) contributes to the range and size of housing available in the village thus maintaining a balanced social mix;
vi) is in accordance with the other policies of the plan relating to site layout, access, drainage etc; and,
vii) does not lead to a loss of land in classes B1-B8 unless significant environmental or community benefits would be achieved.
viii) safeguards existing public rights of way.
POLICY H25
Development will not be permitted on land designated as an important open space as shown on the Proposals Map.

HOUSING IN THE OPEN COUNTRYSIDE

5.60 The open countryside includes all land outside the Settlement Policy Areas. Within the open countryside there are small groups of housing (which in Bedfordshire are often known as Ends) and some small settlements. In the open countryside a strategy of rural restraint and a general presumption against development apply.

POLICY H26
Planning permission will not be granted for housing in the open countryside except as provided for under policies H27, H28 and H30.

5.61 It is recognised, however, that in some circumstances an exception to this policy of restraint may be justified. These are:

AGRICULTURAL WORKERS’ DWELLINGS

5.62 An exception may be made to enable farm workers to live in the immediate vicinity of their place of work; such an exception will only be made when it is deemed essential for them to do so. In assessing applications the Council will require a functional and financial test and will have regard to current Government guidance. In all cases where planning permission is granted an occupancy condition will be imposed to ensure that the dwelling remains available to meet the agricultural need.

POLICY H27
Planning permission will only be granted for agricultural or forestry workers’ dwellings in the countryside for farming activities subject to functional and financial tests. Where proposals involve new farming activities the dwelling should for the first three years take the form of a caravan or other type of temporary accommodation. Permission for permanent dwellings will only be granted to support existing agricultural activities on well established units in order to provide accommodation for full time workers.

REPLACEMENT DWELLINGS

5.63 Each year the Council receives applications for the replacement of existing dwellings in the countryside. Such proposals will not automatically receive favourable consideration, as the loss of smaller dwellings and the introduction of new dwellings in themselves result in a loss of rural character, and imbalance in the rural housing stock. Each case will be considered on its merits based on the recent history of the original dwelling. Before granting permission for demolition the Borough Council will need to be satisfied that the opportunities for repair and renovation have been thoroughly investigated. Evidence of this assessment will need to be submitted with any application.

POLICY H28
Proposals for replacement dwellings in the open countryside will be permitted on a one for one basis provided:
i) the original dwelling has not been demolished or abandoned;
ii) the original dwelling is not a temporary, prefabricated or mobile structure;
iii) the original dwelling is not of architectural or historic merit;
iv) the replacement dwelling is within the curtilage of and respects the siting of the original dwelling, and;
v) the replacement is of a size and scale similar to that of the original dwelling.

EXTENSIONS TO DWELLINGS IN THE OPEN COUNTRYSIDE

5.64 Large extensions to dwellings in the open countryside can have a detrimental effect on the character of the rural area by introducing a scale or style of building inappropriate for the rural area producing a building which is tantamount to the creation of a new dwelling. The Borough Council will therefore expect proposals to reasonably reflect the size and scale of the original and take account of the need to protect rural character.

POLICY H29
Proposals for the extension of dwellings in the open countryside will be permitted provided:
i) the layout of the extension respects the siting of the original dwelling;
ii) the extension reflects the architectural character, size and scale of the original dwelling;
iii) the proposal has no adverse effect on the character and appearance of the area.

HOUSING FOR LOCAL NEEDS

5.65 For some time it has been recognised that people in the rural areas may experience particular difficulties in finding housing locally. In order to meet such needs the Council will be prepared to consider allowing small-scale development on land immediately adjoining SPAs as well as on suitable sites within the SPA.

5.66 Suitable sites may come forward with the assistance of the Bedfordshire Rural Land Bank. Bedfordshire Rural Land Bank is supported by the Countryside Agency, the Housing Corporation, the local authorities and housing associations. It is an initiative designed to facilitate provision of affordable housing in the villages by taking options for purchase or gifts of land which has a reasonable expectation of planning permission to meet such local housing needs.

5.67 The Borough Council will therefore encourage schemes for low cost housing for local people; in particular small dwellings designed for young and elderly people as well as family accommodation. These dwellings are likely to cater for existing residents who need separate accommodation, those whose work requires them to live locally or people who have long-standing links with the community. Ensuring such schemes are attained at low cost for local people can normally only be achieved with cheap land or in the case of development within a SPA, cross subsidy. In the case of sites which fall outside a SPA this form of cross subsidy will not be acceptable. Low cost housing schemes will relate to sites either within or immediately adjoining established villages which would not otherwise be allocated for housing. This does not relate to sites which have been identified as important open spaces. In addition, it is important to ensure that the benefits of low-cost provision pass not only to the initial occupants but to subsequent occupants as well.

POLICY H30
The Borough Council will grant planning permission for local needs housing in the rural area as an exception to existing planning policies where all the following criteria are met:
i) the site must be within, or immediately adjoining, SPA villages and relate satisfactorily to the village’s structure, form and character;
ii) sites on the edges of SPA villages will only be considered where there is sufficient undeveloped land between the site and other settlements to prevent their coalescence, and to protect their separate identities;
iii) the site must be small in scale and be capable of development in terms of access, infrastructure and relationship to adjoining properties;
iv) the Borough Council will expect a Parish housing survey to be carried out either by the Parish Council or Housing Association to demonstrate that the local need for that type of housing exists within that particular rural locality* and cannot be satisfactorily met elsewhere; and,
v) the type of housing proposed must meet this need and it must be capable of management by the Parish Council, Housing Association, Village Trust or other similar organisation. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that one of these bodies has expressed a clear interest in the scheme and that interest should form part of a draft legal agreement to be submitted with the initial planning application. Future management will be controlled using planning agreements, to ensure that the housing continues to be made available to local people in the future. Additional controls will be introduced to prevent ‘staircasing’ to 100% ownership, thereby ensuring that the dwellings remain ‘affordable’ and to ensure that the dwellings are not extended to form much larger properties.

*For the avoidance of doubt, rural locality is defined as Rural Parish and the Rural Parishes which adjoin it.

MEETING HOUSING NEEDS

5.68 The Borough Council is a housing enabler which means that although it is not a direct provider of housing it seeks to ensure that housing for those with particular needs is available. Each year the Borough Council produces a Housing Strategy Statement which includes an assessment of housing need. In 1995 the Borough Council received the results of a consultant’s study into Borough wide housing need. This survey has subsequently been updated in April 1998.

5.69 Households in housing need as defined in the Housing Need Survey are those who are unable to afford market housing to rent or buy and whose current housing is unsuitable. Amongst those in housing need are a wide range of client groups including those with special needs, the homeless and low income groups.

5.70 The local plan has a part to play in meeting affordable housing need because such needs are a material planning consideration. PPG3 states that affordable housing may be sought where housing need has been demonstrated. It also says that councils may define affordable housing and set reasoned targets for the provision of affordable housing. Such targets form the basis for negotiation with the developers of allocated sites. Circular 6/98 qualifies PPG3 by implying affordable housing to include a wide range of subtenures; low cost market priced housing, low cost discounted, shared ownership and social rented housing. As part of its update to the Housing Need Survey the Council has conducted an analysis of the four subtenures. The survey shows that there is no justification for seeking low cost market or discounted low cost housing since they do not meet housing need. A small number of households may benefit from the provision of shared ownership housing. The only sub tenure which will meet significant amounts of housing need is the social rented one.

5.70a In general the main result from the 1998 update survey are similar to those found in the original 1995 survey. The number of households in housing need as at April 1998 was 3,795.

5.70b Whilst it would of course, not be feasible for the local plan allocations to meet all housing need, the Housing Need Survey has demonstrated that there is a significant housing need in the Borough and the Borough Council expects that new housing developments will make a contribution to the meeting of this need. Without seeking to impose a rigid quota the target will apply to all allocated housing or windfall housing sites which meet the threshold criterion stated in the policy. The Council will have regard for the advice in Circular 6/98 regarding the provision of affordable housing on application or allocated sites on alternative sites within the Borough.

5.70c The Borough Council recognises that housing needs vary across the Borough and that the ability of sites to carry affordable housing will vary. In addition the situation as regards site and market conditions may vary over the plan period. The Council has considered all the sites identified in this plan and considers that all of them (which meet the policy threshold) are suitable for affordable housing. The Council does however, recognise that affordable housing is to be negotiated and will take full account of the current position of each site when it comes forward for development.

5.70d Given the significance of the need demonstrated by the survey the Borough Council sets a target of a total of 30% of new houses to be affordable on suitable sites. This will need to be predominantly social housing although the other sub tenures may have a limited contribution to make in allowing some households which would not otherwise be able to do so to meet their own requirements, in the process freeing some rental housing for those in definite need. In deriving this target it is recognised that to include a figure directly reflecting the total of those who need to move soon would be unrealistically large given the constraint implied by the number of units being allocated in the plan. The 30% figure therefore reflects what is a reasonable maximum derived from national custom and practice.

5.71 Once the housing has been provided it is important that it is secured in such a way which ensures that the subsidy is available also to succeeding occupiers. The Council will use its statutory power to secure the housing in perpetuity where legally possible. The Borough Council will use planning conditions and obligations and the involvement of Housing Associations and Housing Cooperatives to achieve this end. In order to achieve affordable rents and to make the most efficient use of government grant, the Council will normally seek a zero or substantially reduced land price for the social housing element.

POLICY H31
The Council will expect affordable housing contributions on sites of 25 units and over (or 1 hectare and over) and in villages having a population of less than 3,000 on sites of 15 units or more (or 0.5 hectare and over). The Borough Council will, on the basis of the current Housing Need Survey, seek to negotiate a total of 30% of affordable housing on sites which qualify on this criterion. On qualifying sites 25% will be sought as social rented housing and 5% for the market subtenures involving equity ownership. This policy will exceptionally apply to sites of a smaller site area where a planning application could have been submitted for a larger site within the above policy thresholds.

HOUSING MIX

5.73 In order to encourage the creation of balanced communities new development needs to provide a mix and range of dwelling types and sizes which reflect the needs and composition of the population and take account of the increasingly varied types of housing requirements. At present the trend in household sizes is towards smaller households as the numbers of single person, lone parent and single elderly households increases. The mix of dwelling types should reflect this trend whilst taking account of the fact that single person households often need the physical capacity to accommodate more than one person. Bedfordshire County Council forecasts for household increase in the period 1991-2006 estimate that 29.1% of that growth will be lone parent households and 47.2% will be one person households. 29% of the one person households will be in the single elderly category. The Borough Council will therefore expect all new developments to provide a reasonable mix and range of house types to reflect the needs of the community particularly in the rural area.

POLICY H32
The Borough Council will expect the mix and range of housing types and sizes to reflect the needs of the community particularly those who require smaller homes.

ACCESSIBLE HOUSING

5.74 The Borough wide housing survey found that 12% of households had special needs. Of these the majority were in the categories of frail elderly or physically disabled and 60.7% of the total were in owner occupation. Given that disability affects most people at sometime in their lives and that the number of people in the most susceptible elderly group is increasing it is important that the stock of housing meets these needs. This can be done by providing housing which takes account of varying levels of mobility and the need to be able to visit friends and relatives. Part M of the Buildings Regulations contains provisions to enable disabled people to visit new dwellings and to use the principal storey.

5.75 The Borough Council has prepared standards for mobility housing which have been adopted as supplementary planning guidance. The Borough Council will seek a percentage of new housing to meet the standards, which will be assessed by reference to up to date survey information. At the date of adoption of this Plan the general guideline figure is assessed at 10%. Sites on which mobility housing is provided should be well located in terms of shops, services and public transport.

POLICY H34
To increase the choice of housing available to disabled people the Borough Council will seek to negotiate agreement with developers to construct a proportion of mobility housing on suitable sites. Such units should be spread throughout the areas of development particularly where there is convenient access to shops, services and public transport.

OTHER HOUSING NEEDS

GYPSY SITES

5.76 On the basis of current information and in view of the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 the Council does not itself propose to provide or support the provision of further publicly funded gypsy sites. Applications from private individuals will be assessed on the basis of policy H35.

POLICY H35
Proposals for the establishment of gypsy sites will be determined on the basis of the following considerations:
i) the proximity of the site to local services and facilities;
ii) the impact on the character of open countryside and the amenity of adjoining uses;
iii) the need to retain high-quality agricultural land; and,
iv) the need to preserve sites of archaeological and wildlife importance.

ACCOMMODATION FOR TRAVELLING SHOWPEOPLE

5.77 The main requirement of travelling show people is for ‘winter quarters’ which are the bases to which they return when summer fairs end. The function of the sites is to provide winter accommodation and also space for the storage and maintenance of equipment.

5.78 For some years accommodation has been provided for the Thurston’s fairground in Kempston. The Council considers that there is no need for further accommodation at the present time

POLICY H36
The Borough Council will not allow the development of additional winter quarters unless:
i) there is a proven need; and,
ii) there would be no adverse impact on the character and amenity of surrounding area.

MOBILE HOMES

5.79 Mobile homes can make a contribution to the provision of low-cost housing. A number of mobile home parks already operate in the Borough. Should further parks be required, especially in the rural area, applications will be considered on the same basis as all other applications for new housing.

POLICY H37
Planning permission will only be granted for residential caravans and mobile homes on sites where built residential development would be permitted.

RESIDENTIAL AREAS

5.80 The pattern of development, the size and appearance of dwellings and garages, the extent and maturity of gardens and their features – such as trees, hedges, walls and fences, natural flora and fauna – will together, help to determine the character of an area. The character of many of the older areas of the Borough has been changing as a result of redevelopment or the conversion of family dwellings into flats or into accommodation suitable for particular groups such as the elderly or handicapped; the buildings are also often extended. Additionally residential garden land has also been under pressure for development. The following policy provides the basis upon which planning applications involving existing residential buildings or curtilages will be considered. The key factors to be taken into account are amenity, access and design.

POLICY H38
The subdivision and/or extension and conversion of residential properties into flats and multiple paying accommodation or special needs housing or redevelopment and development of garden land will be permitted where:
Amenity
i) there is no loss of privacy for local residents resulting from overlooking, noise nuisance, accesses or parking arrangements;
ii) there is no harm to the existing character of the area;
iii) the garden/amenity area is sufficient to maintain the character of the area and provides adequate separation from surrounding uses or buildings;
iv) parking provision (where deemed necessary) does no harm to the character, appearance and amenity of the area;
Access
v) satisfactory access and car parking can be achieved;
Design
vi) the form, design and facing materials of any new building complements the character of the main building and any others nearby; and
vii) the proposal includes measures to minimise the impact of the new development (eg. by incorporating landscaped buffer strips on the plot boundaries, by locating bin storage and drying areas to the rear and by limiting the extent of hard surfaced areas).

5.87 For the avoidance of doubt, a clear distinction is recognised between extensions and annexes to existing dwellings, and the creation of new separate dwellings. An extension/annex will be physically and functionally part of the parent dwelling and will usually be acceptable, subject to design and space standards. A separate dwelling, even if it is to physically abut an existing dwelling will be treated as such and not as an extension. Some larger gardens contain buildings such as coach-houses. Proposals for their conversion into separate dwellings will be subject to the same criteria as that for new build.

5.88 It is important that in addition to protecting the character of residential areas, the dwelling stock itself is not eroded by inappropriate changes of use which could lead to the loss of valuable residential accommodation. The existing dwelling stock should therefore be maintained except where there is a clear need to provide for community facilities such as doctors, dentists, children’s day care facilities and meeting places.

POLICY H39
Proposals leading to a loss of residential accommodation will only be permitted where:
i) a residential building is incapable of offering a satisfactory standard of accommodation;
ii) where alternative uses would provide an overriding benefit to the community and such use would have no adverse impact on the surrounding environment.

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