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PART TWO - THE POLICIES

INTRODUCTION

6.1 Bedford town centre can be defined as a ‘town centre’ in terms of government planning guidance. It has a regional role in the shopping hierarchy and accommodates 85,000 square metres of gross retail floorspace. The town performs the role of a county town and is home to the Borough Council, Bedfordshire County Council, NHS Health Trusts, the Harpur Trust schools and Bedford College giving it a strong public sector administrative and educational function. A number of well known commercial employers are also represented.

6.2 In recent years, whilst Bedford has seen some growth, this has been at a relatively lower rate than other large towns and cities in the sub-region. Much of the recent private sector investment has gone into out of town locations such as the Interchange Retail Park and Priory Business Park rather than into the town centre. In contrast, the Borough Council has spent over £10m on town centre projects in the past two decades.

6.3 Several recent studies have appraised the relative economic performance of the town over the past few years, most notably Roger Tym’s Milton Keynes and South Midlands study which has provided the basis for emerging Regional and Sub-Regional Planning Guidance. Key findings are: -

  • Compared to other areas in the South East region, Bedford struggles economically

  • Bedfordshire was the only part of the study area that had a gross domestic product below the national average and is slipping further behind national levels

  • Bedford has an ageing economic structure with many of its companies having their roots in the early 20th century - this contrasts with its neighbours such as Milton Keynes, Northampton and Cambridge where modern growth sectors are better represented;

  • The town has slipped several places down the retail ranking list and is losing trade to competitor destinations;

  • Bedford is showing signs of stagnation in terms of the range, scale and quality of retail and service functions on offer;

  • The strong educational tradition in Bedford is an asset, the Harpur Trust and local education authority schools are well known - there are, in particular, opportunities arising from further and higher education institutions, such as the University of Bedfordshire and Bedford College;

  • Transportation links through Bedford are weak and congested during peak hours; this reinforces negative perceptions of the town;

  • Regional north-south road and rail links are generally of a good standard but demand outstrips capacity at peak times. The regional east-west links are however very weak.

  • Stagnating economic growth is reflected in the performance of the local property market - demand from retail multiples is relatively low; depressed commercial office and industrial demand leads to limited returns; and residential values are generally lower than surrounding areas which has suppressed interest from some house builders.

6.4 There is, however, a real opportunity to reverse this gradual decline. The Sub-Regional Strategy for Milton Keynes and the South Midlands places Bedford at the heart of the key Bedford, Kempston and northern Marston Vale Growth Area. Significant population growth in the borough (and in adjoining areas such as Milton Keynes) is likely to drive up demand for a range of services and increase expenditure in the local economy (up to 17,570 new dwellings in Bedford borough alone are proposed by 2021 which in crude terms could add around 48,000 – one third – to the existing population). It is vital that steps are taken to attract these incomers to Bedford town centre and influence their shopping patterns from the outset. The provision of local employment opportunities will reduce the need to travel. In addition a strong and vibrant town centre will in itself contribute to growth.

6.5 Plans for Bedford town centre must harness this potential growth through significant infrastructure investment and well targeted regeneration initiatives. Physical investment will be important, but so will efforts to change neutral/negative perceptions of Bedford as a place to invest to one where financial returns are likely to be enhanced over time. Equally, measures to improve economic performance will be as much about a ‘hearts and minds campaign’ to win over investors as the promotion of major regeneration and infrastructure improvements.

6.6 The Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan and the Milton Keynes and the South Midlands Sub- Regional Strategy designate Bedford and the northern Marston Vale as a Growth Area. This has the potential to stimulate infrastructure investment, economic growth and improve the quality of life for residents, alongside the development of 16,270 new homes. Appendix B contains a summary of the Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy and a regional and sub regional policy audit.

6.7 The Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy recognises the role that Bedford must play in achieving growth objectives and recommends that plans for the town centre should be developed and taken forward in order to enhance its retail, cultural and leisure facilities and achieve the general revitalisation of the town. It also recognises the need for the local economy to expand and the contribution that the town centre should make in providing a significant increase in employment. These are policy directions reflected in this document.

6.8 These proposals will shape the development of the sub-region in which Bedford is a key node of growth. This underlines the special opportunity that now exists to attract new interest and investment in Bedford town centre. The Area Action Plan will act as a vehicle to focus new sources of public and private sector funding aimed at bringing forward development and infrastructure proposals.

6.9 The Council is determined to ensure the success of the regeneration of Bedford town centre and the delivery of new infrastructure to meet the demands produced by this growth. The Area Action Plan is a key means of tackling the opportunities and challenges that these growth plans will bring.

THE BASIS FOR REGENERATION

In the context of national and regional guidance and a rigorous assessment of the town centre's needs and potential, the policies and proposals contained in the Area Action Plan are presented in five main themes that respond to the opportunities identified. These themes link with the overall objectives to form the basis of the strategy for regeneration of the town centre:-

(i) A more competitive retail and commercially active centre

Critically, there is a need to renew and revive the primary retail area with new shopping development and complementary mixed uses, including offices and leisure facilities.

(ii) A more structured and distinctive centre

A number of ‘urban quarters’ are proposed to create a focus for the establishment of new and complementary uses. Unsympathetic redevelopment schemes have damaged the urban fabric; there is a need to fill in ‘gap’ sites, remove unsightly surface car parks with appropriate re-provision and enhance key heritage areas and buildings.

(iii) A better connected and more accessible centre

Improved accessibility both to Bedford and within the town centre is essential if investors’ perceptions are to change and emerging development opportunities are to function as part of the town centre. New connections, easier pedestrian movement and better signage are key elements of the strategy.

(iv) A more liveable and attractive centre

There is a need to re-populate the town centre through the provision of good quality housing including a range of affordable homes. The town centre must also make more of its cultural heritage and picturesque qualities. The programme of public realm environmental improvements should be enhanced.

(v) A well managed centre

It is vitally important to draw together the strength of the town centre to enhance its image and reputation. Good management can help build up investor and user confidence by keeping the centre pleasant to use, clean and safe.

6.11 Essentially, the future fortunes of the town centre will depend upon the levels of investment achieved. In addition to guiding development in the town centre, the Area Action Plan will give a new focus upon the town as a whole and act as a catalyst to regenerate the whole of the wider Growth Area.

A MORE COMPETITIVE RETAIL AND COMERCIALLY ACTIVE CENTRE

6.12 In order to gain a clear and up to date assessment of how the town centre is performing the Council commissioned a ‘health check’ of retailing in the borough in 2005.

6.13 On the basis of this study (see Appendix A) the consultants report that:

  • In terms of trade draw, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Peterborough and Cambridge are Bedford’s key competing centres. All these centres are set to enhance their retail offer still further, with major new retail schemes either under construction or in the pipeline. Collectively, the level of investment planned will strengthen their role and increase their market share from the Bedford catchment area.

  • The major threats to the town centre arise from the continued expansion of larger, regional shopping centres and from the existing stock of ‘out of centre’ retail provision in Bedford which has the potential to continue to expand its market share and compete with the traditional town centre offer.

  • Bedford remains a vital and viable centre and has benefited from significant environmental improvements. In retail terms, its strengths are its compact and partly pedestrianised retail core and range of key anchor stores. Its principal weakness in retail terms is the lack of large modern quality units capable of meeting the long term requirements of existing and new retailers.

  • The capacity analysis identifies significant scope for additional convenience goods shopping floorspace of about 6,000 sq.m. net by 2011. There is a clear quantitative and qualitative need for a large modern food superstore in Bedford town centre, in addition to current commitments. There is no need for any further out-of-centre food superstores or expansion of existing facilities.

  • There is a clear quantitative and qualitative need for about 30,000 sq.m. net of additional comparison goods floorspace by 2011, increasing to about 47,000 sq.m. net by 2016, which should be focused in the town centre.

  • Beyond 2011 the main focus of search for further retail-led mixed use development within the town centre is likely to be within the northern part of the town centre between Dame Alice Street, High Street, Allhallows and Silver Street.

  • A significant growth in the demand for eating and drinking and other leisure facilities within the town centre is also expected.

6.14 Clearly, Bedford shopping centre in comparison with rival centres is not competing effectively and has, as a consequence, fallen in the retail rankings. A major new impetus is urgently required of the centre if it is to recover its past position, and in the longer term, grow relative to competitor towns. That impetus needs to build Bedford's offer as distinctive from its larger competitors so it can assume a complementary position in the retail hierarchy. In the light of the growth plans for the borough, it is of paramount importance that the town centre's role in the region is strengthened to enhance its attractiveness to investors and the public.

6.15 This strengthened role needs to include an expansion of employment opportunities in the town centre. The stock of good quality well located office space is limited and this acts as an obstacle to the growth of Bedford's economy. Increased levels of commercial activity will draw people to the Plan area and stimulate the local housing market. The town centre offers the most sustainable location for business and leisure development, given its location at the hub of public transport and the convenience of retail and other services. There is scope to provide significant new office floorspace centred on a new railway station. This will enable the town to compete more effectively in attracting companies and government departments/agencies seeking to relocate from London.

6.16 The boundary of the town centre in the Area Action Plan is larger than the defined area in the adopted Local Plan which it replaces. The incorporation of this wider area recognises the need to integrate transitional areas rather more effectively in land use, economic, transportation and social terms with the primary shopping area. This facilitates a comprehensive approach to the promotion of major development opportunities and mitigation of their impacts where appropriate. It also has regard to the need to recognise the potential that exists south of the river to create improved linkages from edge of centre sites to existing town centre facilities and to build upon existing assets which are currently under-utilised to enhance the centre’s capacity for change. This revised policy boundary gives definition to the sequential test set out in Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 6 - Planning for Town Centres.

POLICIES - DEFINING THE TOWN CENTRE

  • Definition of the "town centre" is important in policy terms (PPS6)

  • Clusters of town centre uses, retail, leisure, employment and other uses benefit from a central location where public transport systems are focused and the opportunity for non-car travel and multi-purpose trips is maximised.

POLICY TC1 - DEFINITION OF THE TOWN CENTRE

The extent of the town centre for the purposes of PPS6 is shown on the Proposals Map A number of general policies apply to those parts of the Plan area which lie outside the designated Town Centre (see paragraph 7.1)

POLICIES - IMPROVING OUR RETAIL OFFER

  • •Bedford needs a significant scale of additional comparison retail floorspace in order to increase its market share and provide sub-regional services to its growing hinterland.

  • The absence of a large town centre foodstore is a major deficiency within the centre. •

  • Modern shop units to attract quality retailers are in short supply. •

  • The first port of call for new retail development will be the town centre followed by the edge of centre.

POLICY TC2 - IMPROVING THE RETAIL OFFER

Provision will be made for up to 47,000 sq.m net additional comparison and up to 6,000 sq.m net additional convenience goods retail floorspace within the town centre. The main focus for additional comparison and convenience floorspace will be Bedford Town Centre West and thereafter the remainder of the Primary Shopping Area.

  • A key feature of the town centre is its compactness and it is important to protect the primary shopping area from inappropriate changes of use through the designation of primary and secondary shopping frontages.

The Town Centre Area Action Plan makes provision for a total of 31,200 sq.m. of new retail floorspace on the Bedford Town Centre West, Riverside Square and Castle Lane sites. The Council acknowledges that the Plan does not make allocations for retail development which, on their own, would be sufficient to meet the maximum requirements set out in Policy TC2. However, the allocations which have been made should be seen as the first phase of an on-going process. In this first phase the Council’s strategy is to focus efforts on the delivery of these three main sites. Given the lack of significant retail investment in the town centre in the last 30+ years it is imperative that the current window of opportunity is not lost. The development of the three main sites will significantly enhance Bedford’s attractiveness for further development.

To take the Plan’s town centre regeneration effort forward to 2016 and possibly beyond, the Council will undertake a thorough review of its strategy for the provision of retail floorspace before the end of 2011 in the light of, amongst other things:

  • progress on the retail allocations contained in the Town Centre Area Action Plan;

  • predictions of additional retail floorspace requirements made in the light of growth in the retail catchment area; and

  • the potential for the existing, or an expanded, Primary Shopping Area to deliver any additional requirements for retail floorspace.

As part of the review, the Council will identify sites and opportunities to meet any predicted requirements. Initially, the focus for the search for additional sites and opportunities is likely to be on the existing Primary Shopping Area and the land to the north but, depending on circumstances, it may be that other sites and opportunities for development within the Plan area will also be included.

  • Primary shopping frontages will be kept under review as the developments sanctioned by this plan are progressed.

POLICY TC3 - PRIMARY SHOPPING AREA AND PRIMARY SHOPPING FRONTAGES

In accordance with the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan, the preferred location for new retail development will be the Primary Shopping Area as defined on the Proposals Map. Within the Primary Shopping Frontage, changes of use from retail (Class A1) to A2, A3, A4, A5 and other non-retail uses at ground floor level will not be permitted. Redevelopment in such areas will be permitted only in those instances where retail uses (Class A1) are proposed at ground floor level.

  • Secondary shopping frontages should provide a complementary retail offer to the primary shopping frontages in order to maintain and enhance the vitality of the town centre. They also provide an important resource for the retention and establishment of small independent retailers.

  • There is a need to avoid over concentration of similar uses which detracts from the character of the street.

  • Secondary shopping frontages will be kept under review as the developments sanctioned by this plan are progressed.

POLICY TC4 - SECONDARY SHOPPING FRONTAGE

Within the Secondary Shopping Frontages as defined on the Proposals Map, changes of use from retail to non-retail will be considered on their merits subject to the proposal:

i) having no materially adverse effect on the character and amenity of the area;

ii) being compatible with adjoining uses and appropriate to a shopping street and a town centre location;

iii) providing, where appropriate, a suitable ground floor window display and avoiding the creation of a 'dead' frontage;

iv) avoiding the concentration of similar uses, whose cumulative impact would be to the detriment of either environmental quality, amenity, parking, the street’s retailing function or would increase the risk of antisocial behaviour;

v) making a positive contribution to the diversification of uses within the town centre; and

vi) being in conformity with other planning policies.

 

POLICIES - EXPANDING COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY

  • The town centre accommodates a large number of Bedford's employers.

  • The Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy recognises the town centre as a focus for new office development.

  • Condition of much of the office stock in the town centre is dated and unattractive.

  • Need to encourage inward investment.

  • Contribution to achieving economic growth as in ‘Changing Places’, Bedford's economic vision and strategy.

  • Absence of central sites available for office development.

POLICY TC5 - OFFICE DEVELOPMENT

Provision will be made for additional Class B1 floorspace on the edge of the town centre. (see Policies TC13, TC15 and TC16)

 

 

POLICY TC6 - OFFICE DEVELOPMENT SITES

Proposals for office development will be determined in accordance with the policies set out in this Area Action Plan and with reference to:-

  • access to public transport/walking/cycle routes;

  • good connections with the rest of the centre;

  • high quality design, materials and landscaping;

  • the contribution that development makes to the functioning of the centre.

 

A MORE STRUCTURED AND DISTINCTIVE CENTRE

6.17 The qualities of Bedford town centre should not be under-estimated, notably its compactness, its heritage features reflecting its long history as a county town and its magnificent natural setting on the banks of the River Great Ouse. These are major assets which contrast sharply with the stark and modern retail and leisure facilities provided by modern development in some competitor towns.

6.18 In maintaining and developing the recognisable qualities that make Bedford the place it is, the urban structure and character of the town, notably its intricate network of streets and spaces leading to the expansive sweep of the river, need to be understood. These characteristics, reinforced by quality historic buildings, underpin the ‘place-making’ potential of the town.

6.19 The theme of creating distinctiveness runs throughout the Area Action Plan, building on such initiatives as ‘Bedford - Town of Markets’ and ‘Bedford - Town of Bridges’.

6.20 Given the importance attached to the objective of upgrading the distinctiveness of the centre and building upon its significant assets, the Area Action Plan seeks to establish a series of bold new urban ‘quarters’. They provide a focus for similar/complementary uses, thus creating a critical mass of activity. From an analysis of the urban character, and the availability of sites and property market considerations, six sub-areas have been identified with the greatest potential for regeneration.

RETAIL QUARTER – This represents the area of the town centre where the main shops are located. This area is to be extended and strengthened to accommodate major retail development which in time will encourage re-investment throughout the area including the High Street. In tandem with new retail facilities, new housing opportunities will help to re-populate the town centre and increase its vitality and viability.

CULTURAL QUARTER – Focused on Castle Lane, the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum and Castle Mound and linking through to the High Street. This quarter contains opportunities for enhanced cultural/heritage activities, an archaeological park, new residential apartments, live/work units, specialist and ‘lifestyle’ shops and restaurants. This eclectic mix of uses will distinguish the area from other quarters of the town and connect with The Embankment.

RIVERSIDE QUARTER – This provides the opportunity for a prestige development to link town and river generating activity and interest. A residential led development is envisaged with the potential for ground floor high quality eating places and some specialist retail uses that spill out on to walkways and bankside areas. The scheme will allow for the provision of a grand public square for Bedford and a stylish new foot/cycle bridge. This opportunity must articulate Bedford’s growing regional status and be a beacon of excellence. This area includes the complex of magistrate courts which are due to be refurbished and enlarged to create a regional justice centre.

ST MARY’S QUARTER – The concentration of education and administrative uses on the south bank behind St Mary’s Gardens is one of the town's key assets. The ongoing development programme at Bedford College should merge with the gardens and embrace the river to create a campus style environment with new buildings complementing those across the river. The scope for creating a mini-marina should be further explored.

STATION QUARTER – This quarter has significant office development potential which, linked with the re-provision of the station, improved network infrastructure and parking facilities, can resolve the isolation of the existing interchange, generate employment and improve pedestrian flows along Midland Road. The redevelopment could include a residential element and improved bus connectivity.

KINGSWAY QUARTER – This important southern gateway to the town centre currently appears to be an area in transition. There is scope for a comprehensive approach to development and re-investment in much of the existing stock of commercial premises with the view to creating a vibrant office and administrative quarter. Gaps in frontages and fragmented ownerships need to be addressed and there is some opportunity for mixed-use schemes.

POLICIES - A MORE STRUCTURED AND DISTINCTIVE CENTRE

NEW RETAIL QUARTER

  • Addressing the need for additional comparison and convenience retail floorspace

  • Improving bus interchange facilities.

  • The need to re-populate the town centre

  • The need to contribute to the provision of housing given that residential units will be lost as a result of redevelopment of the site.

POLICY TC7 - NEW RETAIL QUARTER - BEDFORD TOWN CENTRE WEST

Key principles of development, to be secured by condition and/or legal agreement, will include:

i) a high quality development that contributes significantly to the retail offer (up to 30,000 sq.m.) and the distinctiveness of the town centre and integrates well with the existing centre;

ii) a variety of retail spaces to suit a range of retail requirements;

iii) mixed development to include commercial, leisure and residential uses (300 units) and off-street car parking;

iv) provision of revised access arrangements linking River Street with Bromham Road together with appropriate provision for bus, taxi/private hire vehicles, cycle and pedestrian access and drop-off/pick-up points;

v) provision of a new bus station;

vi) re-provision of other public facilities displaced by the development;

vii) provision of on and off-site highway improvements (see Policy TC20);

viii) provision of sufficient town centre and residents’ car and cycle parking including secure cycle storage;

ix) provision of affordable housing;

x) incorporation of sustainable forms of construction, energy conservation measures and renewable energy;

xi) provision of community facilities including public conveniences;

xii) contribution to High Street improvements.

 

IMPROVING THE EXISTING SHOPPING AREA

  • Countering the potential westward shift in the centre’s primary retail pitch.

  • Encouraging re-investment in the existing retail areas.

  • Helping the High Street to reinvent itself. Maximising opportunities for improvements to the public realm following de-trafficking.

POLICY TC8 - NEW RETAIL QUARTER - RETAIL REINVESTMENT AND THE HIGH STREET

The main focus for retail reinvestment in the existing centre will be the primary and secondary shopping frontages and the High Street in particular. Within these areas, emphasis will be placed on:

i) The provision of high quality and distinctive shopfronts and signage;

ii) The refurbishment of existing buildings which contribute to the character and heritage of Bedford,

iii) The re-occupation of upper floors for commercial or residential use;

iv) The provision of improvements to the public realm.

The Council will prepare a strategy with the Bedford Town Centre Company and other partners for the renaissance of the High Street.

 

NEW CULTURAL QUARTER

  • Renaissance within an enhanced heritage and cultural context.

  • Development of brownfield land.

  • Enhanced visitor attraction.

  • Potential for creative enterprises.

  • Potential to reflect Bedford’s multi-cultural diversity.

  • Re-populating the town centre.

  • Retail use to support the regeneration of the area as a cultural quarter and to attract visitors into the area.

POLICY TC9 - CULTURAL QUARTER - CASTLE LANE

Key principles of development of the Castle Lane area, to be secured by condition and/or legal agreement, will include:

i) primarily a residential development (105 units) with commercial, retail (up to 600 sq.m.) and cltural elements;

ii) the need to interpret and where appropriate preserve/incorporate the archaeology and heritage elements within any scheme;

iii) provision of on and off-site highway improvements;

iv) creation of a pedestrian friendly environment with strong links to the High Street and the river;

v) provision of adequate cycle parking for residents and visitors;

vi) provision of affordable housing;

vii) incorporation of sustainable forms of construction, energy conservation measures and renewable energy.

Commercial elements should have an emphasis on quality A3 provision.

 

POLICY TC10 - CULTURAL QUARTER - CECIL HIGGINS ART GALLERY AND BEDFORD MUSEUM

A scheme of refurbishment of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum in association with the part conversion and part redevelopment of the premises/site for residential (20 units) and ancillary purposes will be promoted by the Borough Council.

 

NEW RIVERSIDE QUARTER

  • Two key sites are Riverside Square and the Shire Hall/Bank building site.

  • Policy priority for the Riverside Square site is the creation of a major new public square, combined with a stylish new foot/cycle bridge as integral elements of a scheme of superior design.

  • Retail use to support the regeneration of the area as a major waterfront development and new public space, attracting visitors into the area and providing a new destination with strong linkages to the existing centre.

  • The Bank building site is an important gateway into the town centre and a prominent site next to the town bridge and adjoining listed buildings. A sensitive approach to design will therefore be needed.

POLICY TC11 - RIVERSIDE QUARTER - RIVERSIDE SQUARE

Key principles of development of Riverside Square, to be secured by condition and/or legal agreement, will include:

i) primarily a residential development (155 units) with commercial, and retail (up to 600 sq.m.) elements;

ii) provision of revised access arrangements via Horne Lane including on and off-site improvements;

iii) safeguarding sufficient land to accommodate the Batts Ford Bridge and its approaches;

iv) provision of a stylish new foot/cycle bridge across the river;

v) provision of new footpath and cycle routes to connect with existing routes in the town centre and along the river corridor;

vi) provision of adequate cycle parking for residents and visitors;

vii) provision of affordable housing;

viii) incorporation of sustainable forms of construction, energy conservation measures and renewable energy;

ix) provision of a grand public square for Bedford.

Commercial elements should have an emphasis on quality A3 provision.

 

POLICY TC12 - RIVERSIDE QUARTER - SHIRE HALL AND THE BANK BUILDING SITE

Key principles of development of Shire Hall and the Bank building site, to be secured by condition and/or legal agreement, will include:

i) the retention and refurbishment of the Shire Hall and adjoining listed buildings incorporating in a comprehensive manner, the Bank building site, to create a regional justice centre;

ii) any alterations to this important group of buildings (required to accommodate new uses) will need to be fully justified in conservation/heritage terms;

iii) any alterations to the historic fabric and any new build will be to a high quality. Development of the Bank building site must create a signature building to complement the historic and riverside setting;

iv) any demolition of the historic fabric to achieve a revised access arrangement must be fully justified having firstly evaluated all reasonable options;

v) the provision of built frontages to St. Paul’s Square, High Street and the river;

vi) provision of revised access arrangements via St. Paul’s Square including off-site highway improvements;

vii) safeguarding footpath and cycle routes along the river corridor;

viii) provision of adequate secure cycle parking for staff and visitors;

ix) incorporation of sustainable forms of construction, energy conservation measures and renewable energy.

 

NEW STATION QUARTER

  • Scope to redevelop the railway station and its environs to provide a new office campus, improve interchange facilities and enhance connections between the main shopping area and the station.

  • Funding has been secured from the Growth Areas Fund to prepare a detailed masterplan for the Station Quarter. As part of the masterplanning process, the potential for the extension of the Station Quarter into the land to the south of Ford End Road may be considered.

POLICY TC13 - STATION QUARTER - BEDFORD STATION

Key principles of development, to be secured by condition and/or legal agreement, will include:

i) the creation of a new office quarter and transport interchange with some residential (180 units) elements including affordable housing;

ii) relocation of the station concourse and ticket office adjacent to the Ford End Road bridge;

iii) provision of revised access arrangements via Ashburnham Road with appropriate provision for bus, taxi/private hire vehicles, cycle and pedestrian access and drop-off/pick-up points;

iv) provision of a new forecourt to the railway station;

v) provision of on and off-site highway improvements including park & ride bus drop-off point accessed from Ford End Road and pedestrian overbridge;

vi) re-provision of car and cycle parking;

vii) incorporation of sustainable forms of construction, energy conservation measures and renewable energy.

 

ST MARY’S QUARTER

The area south of the river would offer development potential and other benefits as the southern gateway to the town centre, especially if better pedestrian and vehicular links across the river could be achieved. Bedford College is a major institution on the south bank of the river which plays an important role in the vitality of the town centre. At the present time, college buildings tend to turn their back on St. Mary’s Gardens and the town centre. Any new buildings should be orientated to provide a more active frontage to the river.

 

POLICY TC14 - ST MARY’S QUARTER

Land and premises on the south bank of the river will be more closely integrated with the town centre in terms of design aspect and connectivity via the proposed bridges which will provide enhanced pedestrian, cycle and vehicular links. Development proposals in this area will be required to present an active face to St Mary’s Gardens, protect and enhance this important river frontage and create a more campus style setting. The potential to incorporate a mini marina to encourage and facilitate river usage will be explored.

 

KINGSWAY QUARTER

 

POLICY TC15 - K INGSWAY QUARTER

The land bordering Kingsway and identified on the Proposals Map has been identified for comprehensive, area based regeneration. Within this area, the Borough Council has the following policy objectives:-

i) to achieve a mixed development quarter comprising a range of business, residential (300 units), office and public administration uses;

ii) any residential development will include affordable housing;

iii) to achieve higher density of development and effective use of land through new build and redevelopment opportunities;

iv) to achieve larger scale buildings (generally between 4 and 6 storeys) and more continuous frontages on either side of Kingsway in order to create a greater sense of enclosure, sense of place, and increase the status of the street within the townscape;

v) to achieve a higher quality of building design and finishes and a cohesive approach to scale and massing;

vi) use of planting etc to make Kingsway a more attractive urban boulevard and approach to the proposed Batts Ford Bridge;

vii) Improve pedestrian/cycle connections between the area and the town centre and the St. John’s railway halt;

viii) incorporation of sustainable forms of construction, energy conservation measures and renewable energy;

ix) provision of adequate cycle parking for residents and visitors.

The Borough Council will prepare a development brief in consultation with owners and occupiers of sites and premises within the area.

 

6.23 Although not within a ‘quarter’, two other areas have development potential which will contribute to the vision and objectives of the Area Action Plan. These are Lime Street and Progress Ford.

LAND AT LIME STREET

  • Former opportunity site in the Bedford Borough Local Plan.

  • Any access arrangements will need to safeguard the pedestrian nature of the street during core shopping hours.

POLICY TC16 - LAND AT LIME STREET

Key principles of development, to be secured by condition and/or legal agreement, will include:

i) mixed use development to include residential (10 units), offices and retail;

ii) provision of an active frontage to the development;

iii) vehicular access from Harpur Street;

iv) provision of affordable housing within any residential element;

v) incorporation of sustainable forms of construction, energy conservation measures and renewable energy.

 

PROGRESS FORD

  • Identified in the Bedford Urban Capacity Study.

POLICY TC17 - PROGRESS FORD, THE BROADWAY

Key principles of development, to be secured by condition and/or legal agreement, will include:

i) residential use (85 units);

ii) provision of revised access arrangements via Balsall Street East;

iii) on and off-site highway improvements as required;

iv) provision of affordable housing;

v) enhancement of the adjoining public realm;

vi) incorporation of sustainable forms of construction, energy conservation measures and renewable energy.

 

A BETTER CONNECTED CENTRE

6.24 Within an overall strategy of realising greater network efficiency, managing demand and achieving higher levels of modal shift to public transport, issues concerning congestion, ease of interchange, air quality and accessibility will influence the degree to which renaissance can be achieved. The strategy attempts to strike the right balance between access for private cars and the alternatives offered by public transport, taxis, private hire vehicles, walking and cycling.

6.25 Based on this and background studies, the Area Action Plan will set out a number of transport proposals designed to address these issues. The transport implications of individual developments will be assessed both in terms of their overall impact and their immediate connections with the network when planning applications are submitted.

POLICIES - A BETTER CONNECTED CENTRE

6.26 The Area Action Plan pursues a strategy that seeks to satisfy a number of objectives:-

(i) Mitigation of Traffic Impacts

Notwithstanding the effects of encouraging more sustainable travel demand management and diverting unnecessary movement away from the town centre, there will inevitably be increases in traffic flow at certain times of the day and in certain locations. These effects can be mitigated by network improvements. The Borough Council, County Council and Renaissance Bedford have instructed consultants to carry out a further transportation study in order to refine the transport strategy set out in the Bedford Town Centre Development Framework Study and to provide a more detailed assessment of what is needed and when. Policies TC18, TC19 and TC20 set out the current position.

 

POLICY TC18 - JUNCTION/NETWORK IMPROVEMENTS 2006 - 2011

The following proposals will be pursued through the Local Transport Plan and other means (including developer contributions where they are required to facilitate the development of specific sites):

  • Developer Funded Schemes

  • Realignment of Greyfriars

  • Midland Road/Greyfriars junction

  • River Street/Greyfriars junction

  • Improvements to Hassett Street/Beckett Street/Gwynn Street, Brace Street and Bromham Road

  • Priory Street to be one-way northbound

  • Greenhill Street – closure

LTP/Other Funded Schemes

  • Town Centre Traffic Management & Control System

  • Ford End Road/Prebend Street junction

  • Right turn into the Embankment

 

6.27 The Bedford Town Centre Development Framework Study Transportation Strategy identified that post 2011 there was a need to increase river crossing capacity and proposed the Batts Ford bridge. A subsequent transportation study has shown that the new river crossing is necessary in conjunction with the completion of the Western Bypass to enable the de-trafficking of the High Street. In addition, when combined with other measures, the bridge has potential to incorporate bus priority links, reduce congestion and to improve accessibility to the town centre for non car modes.

6.28 Further studies will be commissioned to look at the detailed design and feasibility of the new river crossing. This will determine the function of this new link in the network and its role in terms of providing public transport priority rather than providing roadspace for general traffic. Its role in facilitating access by park and ride services to the new bus station will also be assessed.

 

POLICY TC19 - NETWORK IMPROVEMENTS POST 2011

Successful regeneration activity will require a new river crossing at Batts Ford linking Kingsway to River Street with or without other network improvements including the safeguarded Prebend Street relief road as shown on the Proposals Map. In order to achieve this strategy, a corridor (as shown on the Proposals Map) will be safeguarded to accommodate a new river crossing and approach roads linking River Street and Kingsway. This scheme will be pursued as an integral part of a major bid through the Local Transport Plan process and would also be likely to require:-

  • improvements to the Kingsway/Cauldwell Street junction and the River Street/Horne Lane junction;

  • reversion of Horne Lane, River Street and Kingsway to two-way operation;

  • introduction of an access restriction point at the junction of Horne Lane and St Paul’s Square (for eastbound traffic);

  • bus priority measures where feasible.

 

6.29 The details of the improvement measures will subsequently need to be worked up as individual planning applications come forward (see also Policy TC41). This is a development control matter that will be managed through the preparation of transport assessments and the negotiation of Section 106 Agreements. Achieving suitable access to the development sites by all modes of transport is a material consideration.

POLICY TC20 - DEVELOPMENT RELATED NETWORK IMPROVEMENTS

At this stage it would appear that the Bedford Town Centre West redevelopment will require developer funded improvements as follows:-

  • Realignment of Greyfriars

  • Midland Road/Greyfriars junction

  • River Street/Greyfriars junction

  • Improvements to Hassett Street/Beckett Street/Gwynn Street, Brace Street and Bromham Road

  • Priory Street to be one-way northbound

Developer funded network improvements may also be required in association with the development of other town centre sites.

 

(ii) Improvements for Vulnerable Road Users

The Area Action Plan seeks to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists by reducing traffic in certain streets and by providing positive facilities at appropriate locations on links and at junctions including new cycle routes, cycle advance areas and signal controlled crossing points. Striking the right balance in terms of the allocation of road space is important, given Bedford’s tight historic street pattern. It is accepted that at certain junctions, there is insufficient space within the public highway to provide dedicated space for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and taxis/private hire vehicles. This will have to be considered on an individual junction basis.

The creation of further pedestrian friendly areas is important but may only be achieved over time in association with junction and network improvements. Key priorities in this regard are:-

  • St Paul's Square North; and

  • The High Street (post 2011).

It seems unlikely that full pedestrianisation of these areas can be achieved, but measures to reduce the impact of traffic on the environment (i.e. de-trafficking) will be pursued. Both of these areas will also be available for use by cyclists once de-trafficking is in place.

In the case of Midland Road it is likely that Midland Road (West) will experience increased traffic flows until a new river crossing is provided. With no road space for a dedicated cycle lane and narrow footways in a shopping area fitting a cycle lane is not practical. It can however still be used as a route by cyclists albeit on the carriageway.

Following the new river crossing, bus priority measures and cycling lanes can be provided.

A new pedestrian/cycle bridge will be constructed and funded as part of the development of the former Britannia Ironworks site and this is shown on the Proposals Map and Figures 3 & 4. This will further enhance the walking/cycling network.

 

POLICY TC21 - WALKING AND CYCLE ROUTES

Pedestrian route proposals are shown on Figure 3 and should be well defined, safe and reflect pedestrian desire lines. Active frontages should also be encouraged to reduce any perception of isolation and vulnerability particularly during hours of darkness. Cycle route proposals are shown on Figure 4 and seek to connect sections of cycle route that do not link together as a coherent network. It also seeks to promote new routes into the edge of the primary shopping area, addressing the current problems of permeability. The following routes will be promoted:-

  • Midland Road corridor (for walking and cycling in the long term) including links to the rail and bus stations;

  • a north-south spine for pedestrians and cyclists ultimately linking Bus Station redevelopment site via the proposed Landmark Bridge to Kingsway;

  • River Street corridor;

  • routes along the river;

  • an east-west route for pedestrians and cyclists through the Bedford Town Centre West site,

  • High Street corridor (once de-trafficking is in place) to provide a north-south route through the town centre for pedestrians and cyclists; and

  • The Grove/Newnham Street and Castle Lane*

Developer contributions will be sought for the provision of improved cycle facilities including secure cycle storage at key locations as shown on Figure 4. Contributions will also be sought towards improved pedestrian facilities. In addition to the sites identified in this plan, contributions will also be sought on a pro-rata basis from more modest developments.

*Current no-entry arrangements (westbound) would need to be reviewed to achieve this route.

 

POLICY TC22 - PEDESTRIAN CONNECTIONS

The Borough Council will, in conjunction with development proposals, seek to improve the number and quality of connections including:

i) connections within the centre including those between the existing centre and both Castle Lane and Bedford Town Centre West;

ii) connections between the centre and the river corridor, including where appropriate the provision of new foot/cycle bridges and;

iii) connections between the centre and the railway station.

 

(iii) Improvements to Bus Services

The Area Action Plan promotes improvements to public transport provision increasing the attractiveness of such services, and providing the opportunity for service providers to reduce delays to passengers and improve bus reliability.

POLICY TC23 - PUBLIC TRANSPORT INTERCHANGE / SERVICES

Proposals in this regard are as follows:-

Bus Station

  • retaining a bus station at, or in close proximity to the existing facility, that acts as a focus for bus passengers and facilitates interchange between services including park and ride and taxis/private hire vehicles. The new facility should benefit from a ‘state of the art’ design;

  • providing a much reduced level of bus layover facilities at the bus station with alternative facilities for layover provided elsewhere;

Serving the Railway Station

  • improved bus/rail interchange as part of the Station Quarter development proposals including forecourt improvements at the railway station, park and ride drop-off point, facilities for taxis/ private hire vehicles and revised bus routeing;

Service Improvements

  • improving overall accessibility to local bus services by improving routeing in the central area (around one or more loops);

  • if reallocation of roadspace is practicable, provide further bus priority routes in the town centre and on key approach corridors;

  • continue to expand park and ride facilities;

  • adopting a Quality Bus Partnership approach on key routes to deliver a step change in the bus offer;

  • the use of through ticketing

  • reviewing picking up and setting down points around the town centre.

  • introducing real time information on routes into the town;

  • an ongoing programme of bus stop improvements, and

  • adequate cycle parking at public transport interchanges

Post 2011

The construction of a new river crossing at Batts Ford would simplify bus routeing in the town centre, improve public transport accessibility and make it easier to provide priority bus routes.

 

(iv) Parking

The Area Action Plan seeks to provide high quality parking provision within the town centre and will itself, and in partnership with others, manage on and off-street provision to favour short stay as opposed to long stay parking whilst ensuring that there is sufficient parking within the town centre to maintain its attractiveness and commercial viability.

The basis of this parking strategy is set out in the Bedford Town Centre Development Framework Study. It explains that in developing the parking strategy for Bedford town centre, an attempt has been made to strike the right balance between provision and management (including the charging regime) and the alternatives offered by public transport, walking and cycling.

The Framework Study identifies the following elements that together will secure the parking strategy:

  • Management of the overall parking stock so that the number of spaces available for public use at times of peak demand is in line with newly identified maximum standards for the town centre that are consistent with or tighter than PPG13 maximum standards;

  • Recognising the opportunity to control the overall supply of public parking through the redevelopment of existing surface car park sites;

  • Increased public car parking charges that are complementary to the transport strategy but at the same time sit comfortably with charging levels in nearby (and competing) town centres;

  • A move towards consistent charging across all town centre car parks that are available for public use, with charges set to deter long stay commuter parking;

  • Shared parking provision for different land uses in line with PPG13;

  • Provision of on-plot parking at less than PPG13 maximum standards with flexible management arrangements offering the potential to tighten standards further over time in line with the success of the town centre;

  • Provision of a replacement multi-storey car park on the bus station site that is designed to the ‘Gold Standard’ of safety and security;

  • New park and ride facilities in appropriate locations;

  • Provision of conveniently located disabled parking spaces within all car parks;

  • Strict on-street parking controls within the town centre and its hinterland.

POLICY TC24 - PARKING

The Borough Council and its partners will:-

  • manage the existing stock in terms of capacity, pricing policy and environmental quality

  • promote the provision and use of park and ride;

  • allocate sufficient disabled/other parking facilities convenient for the shops;

  • consider extending the Controlled Parking Zone.

 

A MORE LIVEABLE & ATTRACTIVE CENTRE

6.30 The Area Action Plan underlines the importance of a high quality environment to the attraction and image of Bedford town centre. Fortunately, in this regard, Bedford has two valuable assets, namely its beautiful river setting and its long heritage that is reflected in many of its buildings. These assets together with the opportunity to re-populate the town centre provide important building blocks for regeneration.

6.31In addition to meeting needs and contributing to growth targets, town centre living adds to its vitality and to the degree to which it welcomes pedestrians after business hours. Realising the potential for housing development in the centre is a prime objective of the Area Action Plan, and there are opportunities for redevelopment and changes of use to achieve this end.

6.32 Development schemes will be expected to contribute towards specific environmental improvements in the town centre, including enhancements to landscape, pedestrian routes and signage and public art. These contributions will be secured through planning conditions and/or Section 106 planning obligations. The Borough Council will seek to achieve a fully co-ordinated approach to street furniture, landscape and materials in relation to all major schemes. Applicants’ Design Statements submitted as part of their planning application, will be expected to set out their approach to this important aspect of their proposals.

POLICIES - A MORE LIVEABLE & ATTRACTIVE CENTRE

HOUSING

  • Increasing the residential capacity of the town centre is a key objective

  • Affordable housing will be provided in accordance with the adopted Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan and having proper regard for evidence of need.

  • The nature of the town centre and the likely predominance of flats within the schemes means that certain tenures and sizes will be more appropriate than in other locations so as to achieve a mixed and balanced community. The exact type, tenure and size of dwellings that should be provided will be advised, based upon needs assessments/evidence prior to the planning application being submitted.

  • If families are to be accommodated in flats, it is recognised that high values of noise insulation must be provided in order that tenants do not adversely impinge upon each other.

  • There is scope to bring underused and vacant space above shops back into residential use. In such cases parking requirements should reflect the balance between the mobility needs of residents and reducing the level of car usage in the town centre.

  • A strategic overview of all major sites in the town centre will be required to deliver a mixed and balanced community.

  • Capacity could be in the order of approximately 1155 residential units depending on precise make up of mixed use developments. Table 2 below gives an indication of residential capacity of each of the key sites. Detailed capacities will be determined through the development control process.

TABLE 2 RESIDENTIAL CAPACITY OF THE ALLOCATED SITES

 

SITE

RESIDENTIAL CAPACITY

DELIVERY PERIOD

Policy TC 7 ~ New Retail Quarter ~ Bedford Town Centre West

300

2010/11 - 2015/16

Policy TC 9 ~ Cultural Quarter ~ Castle Lane

104

2007/08 - 2008/09

Policy TC 10 ~ Cultural Quarter ~ Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum

20

2009/10

Policy TC 11 ~ Riverside Quarter ~ Riverside Square

155

2008/09 - 2009/10

Policy TC 13 ~ Station Quarter ~ Bedford Station

180

2010/11 - 2014/15

Policy TC 15 ~ Kingsway Quarter

300*

2008/09, 2012/13 - 2016/17

Policy TC 16~ Land at Lime Street

10

2011/12

Policy TC 17 ~ Progress Ford The Broadway

85

2008/09 - 2009/10

Total Capacity

1154

 

* Part of this site (the BT Tower site) has a resolution to grant planning permission for residential use in part.

 

POLICY TC25 - HOUSING MIX

The Borough Council will expect the mix and range of housing types, tenures and sizes to reflect the needs of the community particularly the different client groups requiring housing within the Plan area, and to secure a mixed and balanced community.

 

POLICY TC26 - LIVING OVER THE SHOP

Within the Plan area, planning permission will be granted for the conversion of vacant space above shops to residential use unless air quality assessment indicates otherwise.

 

BEDFORD'S HERITAGE

Bedford town centre has scheduled ancient monuments, listed buildings, and a medieval street pattern. The Bedford Town Centre Conservation Area is defined on the Proposals Map.

 

POLICY TC27 - HERITAGE

The Borough Council will protect and where appropriate enhance existing architectural, archaeological and historic features including:-

i) listed buildings and their settings;

ii) scheduled ancient monuments;

iii) buildings which although not listed, form an integral part of the Bedford Conservation Area and its setting;

iv) street pattern and historic boundaries, spaces between buildings and the public realm.

Development proposals will need to demonstrate how the historical context has been addressed as appropriate. In areas of archaeological potential, archaeological assessment will be required and remains should be preserved in situ. Where this is not justified or feasible excavation, recording and interpretation will be required.

 

  • The attractiveness of the town centre is of economic importance for many reasons not least since it provides a gateway and a focus for visitors to the sub-region. Tourism is a growth industry that contributes significantly to the local economy and is to be encouraged.

  • Many of the initiatives set out in this plan will enhance the town’s tourism potential e.g. improving the retail offer, establishing a cultural quarter with an enhanced art gallery/museum etc.

POLIC Y TC28 - TOURISM

To promote tourism in Bedford, the Borough Council will:-

i) act to improve the tourist offer by enhancing the range and quality of its visitor attractions;

ii) encourage the provision of additional, quality visitor facilities, including hotel accommodation and eating establishments.

 

THE RIVERSIDE

  • The river is the prime environmental asset within the town centre.

  • It needs to be better integrated with the town centre.

  • New bridge links to improve connectivity

  • A specific approach to urban design needed within the river corridor.

  • Scope for enhanced public spaces and use of the river as a green corridor for walking and cycling routes.

  • Scope for greater river usage

POLICY TC29 - RIVERSIDE FRONTAGES

The Borough Council will seek to integrate the riverside environment with the function of the town centre through the use of higher quality development on river frontage sites, the provision of environmental improvements and new pedestrian/cycle routes including the provision of a stylish new foot/cycle bridge linking Riverside Square with St Mary’s Gardens.

 

POLICY TC30 - RIVERSIDE DEVELOPMENT

Development which adjoins the river corridor should:

i) create an active frontage to the river;

ii) create a strong edge to the development through the use of buildings of significant scale and where appropriate continuous built frontages;

iii) incorporate new public spaces and linkages with existing spaces and routes (Policy TC11 includes a specific requirement for a grand public square for Bedford);

iv) maintain and enhance pedestrian and cycle access to the river and between the centre and the river corridor.

v) not compromise the land required for the Batts Ford bridge.

 

BIODIVERSITY

  • River and rail corridors represent key linear habitats that extend to and through the town centre.

  • Need to conserve and where possible enhance existing habitats and the movement network.

POLICY TC31 - BIODIVERSITY

The Borough Council will, in conjunction with development proposals, seek to conserve and where appropriate enhance biodiversity especially along river and rail corridors. Where there is expected to be a net loss to biodiversity, compensatory measures will be required.

Proposals for development will need to be accompanied by a biodiversity appraisal to establish the existing biodiversity value of the land and to explain how development proposals will affect and/or enhance that value.

 

NEW PUBLIC SPACES

  • Importance of public space to define sense of place.

  • Need to create new/improved public spaces which support wide range of activities

  • A grand public square will be required on the Riverside Square site.

  • Public art has a major role in creating identity and enhancing the vitality of the centre. It is important that artists are involved as early as possible in the design process to ensure that opportunities are fully explored.

POLICY TC32 - PUBLIC SPACES

The Borough Council will expect new development to make provision for a high quality public realm including new streets and public squares. Contributions will also be sought, where necessary and appropriate towards public art, interpretation, management and maintenance.

 

SHOP FRONTS AND ADVERTISEMENTS

  • Need to improve design quality/overall image.

  • Contribution to creating a sense of place.

  • Design guidance has been issued. The design guidance relates to both the Plan area and the conservation areas within the borough.

POLICY TC33 - SHOP FRONTS

The Borough Council will expect new shop fronts and advertisements to be designed to the highest standards in terms of:-

i) their relationship to both the local context and the building of which they form a part;

ii) the quality and durability of materials used;

iii) the level and means of illumination.

In considering applications for shop fronts and adverts the Council will have regard to its published Supplementary Planning Document ‘Shopfronts and Advertisements in Conservation Areas’.

 

A WELL MANAGED CENTRE

6.34 Town centre management co-ordinates a wide range of services and activities that are vital to improving the image and reputation of the town. The Borough Council recognises that many of the factors which influence the quality of the town centre do not lie within the scope of the planning system. They do, however, sit within the wider remit of the Council and its partners and include the maintenance of streets, car parks and landscaped areas as well as management of events and activities. All these form part of the Council’s corporate approach towards the town centre. A high quality environment will only be achieved by working in partnership with the private sector and local community. To achieve this, the Council has actively supported the Bedford Town Centre Company and the successful campaign to establish a Business Improvement District and has carried out extensive consultation on the future of the town centre.

6.35 A series of environmental and other improvements have already been implemented and there is a well established programme of events and festivals including speciality markets which are presented throughout the year to help promote and raise the profile of the town. All add to the flavour of an interesting and varied centre. These complement the physical planning measures highlighted elsewhere in this Area Action Plan. The Business Improvement District initiative will enhance the ability to focus upon extra security/safety, street maintenance/cleaning, marketing and other activities which are over and above the level of service previously provided, thus adding significantly to the quality and attractiveness of the town centre. The BED:SAFE initiative established by the North Bedfordshire Community Safety Partnership also contributes to a safer and more attractive town centre with particular emphasis on the impact of licensed premises.

6.36 Within this context, developers will be required to contribute towards the objectives of achieving a better managed and more attractive town centre in order to add to, and consolidate Bedford’s position as a destination of choice and generally make visiting the town a more pleasurable experience.

POLICIES - A WELL MANAGED CENTRE

  • Good town centre management enhances the attractiveness and the vitality of the centre.

POLICY TC34 - TOWN CENTRE MANAGEMENT

The Borough Council will continue, in partnership with local businesses and key stakeholders etc, to support town centre management and the Business Improvement District and will continue to enhance the vitality of the centre through the organisation of events, speciality markets etc.

  • Need to consider amenity of existing and future residents.

  • Need to promote safety and security.

POLICY TC35 - TOWN CENTRE AMENITY

Where uses are proposed that have the potential to affect the amenity of residents or other users by virtue of noise, security of premises or other disturbance, applicants will be expected to implement or contribute towards measures to mitigate adverse impacts. Such measures may include the improvement or extension of the existing Closed Circuit Television System.

 

GENERAL POLICIES

7.1 The Area Action Plan contains a number of policies that will apply across the Plan area.

REDEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS

  • Part of the Plan’s strategy is to encourage reinvestment in the existing centre. It is recognised that in the lifetime of this plan, individual redevelopment or refurbishment proposals may come forward in addition to the identified sites.

  • In recognition of this it is important that the Plan includes a general policy setting down the criteria against which such proposals will be based.

POLICY TC36 - REDEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS

Proposals for redevelopment within the Plan area will be considered against the following criteria:

i) Whether it is appropriate in terms of scale, quantity and use to the character and function of the town centre;

ii) The impact of the proposal in terms of traffic generation and any measures proposed to address that impact including green travel plans;

iii) The extent to which the proposals are accessible by, or can enhance accessibility by walking, cycling and public transport;

iv) The extent to which the proposal supports the regeneration of the town centre and enhances its vitality and viability.

v) The quality of the urban design in terms of layout, buildings, public realm and landscape;

vi) Whether conservation, heritage, biodiversity and green space issues have been properly addressed;

vii) How the proposal addresses climate change effects, renewable energy, energy conservation measures and sustainable construction techniques;

viii) The suitability of the development in terms of crime prevention and community safety.

 

LEISURE USES

  • The Plan has identified the potential for leisure uses within a number of the allocated sites to support their regeneration and enhance the attractiveness of the town centre as a destination.

  • Leisure uses can also play an important part in supporting and diversifying the evening and night time economy.

  • There is a qualitative need to enhance the range of different uses within the town centre including leisure uses. Government guidance supports the location of leisure uses in town centre locations. Given the wide diversity of leisure uses which are appropriate in town centre locations, it is difficult to specify a precise quantum. Policy TC37 sets down the criteria against which leisure proposals will be considered.

POLICY TC37 - LEISURE USES

When considering proposals for leisure and entertainment uses within the town centre, the Borough Council will have regard to the following criteria:

i) Whether the scale of the proposal is appropriate to a town centre location;

ii) The impact of the proposals on existing centres;

iii) The impact of the proposals in terms of traffic generation, anti-social behaviour, crime and where appropriate residential amenity;

iv) The extent to which the proposal is accessible on foot, by cycle and by public transport.

v) Whether the proposal will bring about benefits in terms of the regeneration of the town centre and its vitality and viability.

 

DELIVERY

  • Regeneration activity should take a comprehensive approach.

  • The timing of development may be of strategic importance.

  • Possible Compulsory Purchase Order use at Bedford Town Centre West development already considered by the Borough Council.

POLICY TC38 - COMPULSORY PURCHASE

The Borough Council will consider exercising its powers of compulsory acquisition in circumstances where adequate funding is secured by the promoter of the development and where the development accords with the policies and proposals set out in the Area Action Plan.

 

URBAN DESIGN PRINCIPLES

 

POLICY TC39 - URBAN DESIGN PRINCIPLES

Appendix E sets out the principles of urban design that will be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications within the Plan area.

 

DEVELOPMENT CONTRIBUTIONS

7.2 In accordance with saved and emerging planning policies, development will, where necessary and appropriate, be required to contribute to the provision of affordable housing, landscaping, highway, public transport improvements and other measures required to mitigate any impacts arising from that proposal. In the view of the Borough Council, given the scale of the development proposed, it is not appropriate to consider the impact of proposals solely at the individual site level. The wider context needs to be addressed, including the town centre as a whole as well as further afield. This is particularly the case with the impact on the existing highway network both within the centre and on the approaches to it.

7.3The individual and cumulative impact of the proposed development sites on the highway network has been assessed at a strategic level. The Area Action Plan indicates how network improvements and other measures such as improving the public transport offer, should be introduced in the short term to increase capacity. However in the period 2011-2016 more substantial measures will be needed to improve the network notably including a new river crossing at Batts Ford with supporting infrastructure linking Kingsway with River Street.

7.4 Clearly, improved accessibility and highway capacity will be critical to the successful regeneration and attractiveness of the town centre. This strategy cannot be achieved on a piecemeal basis through localised access improvements linked with individual sites. Instead, a more comprehensive approach is needed in which each development will need to contribute towards resolving wider town centre infrastructure deficits.

7.5 In parallel, the Borough Council will seek, in partnership with the County Council, to secure funding from central government through growth area programmes and the Local Transport Plan (LTP) process, including the making of a major LTP bid.

7.6 In keeping with the holistic approach to regeneration and the fact that development will individually and collectively have an impact on the existing fabric of the town centre, contributions will also be sought towards the management and maintenance of the centre as a whole. This could include contributions towards street furniture, public art, bus shelters, additional cleansing regimes, extensions to CCTV coverage, other crime and disorder initiatives, etc. In addition, contributions towards community infrastructure including healthcare facilities may also be appropriate.

7.7 The government has given notice that it intends to change the basis of the planning obligations system, and has suggested that one way forward might be the introduction of a Community Infrastructure Levy to be levied on new development in addition to necessary S106 requirements. Such an approach would lend itself to the achievement of developer contributions set out above.

7.8 The Borough Council will monitor the government’s changes to the planning obligation system. Policies TC7 to TC17 refer to each of the sites allocated in this plan and gives an indication of the range of contributions that each site will be expected to make. Such contributions will be finally determined through the development control process and S106 negotiations.

INFRASTRUCTURE - DEVELOPER CONTRIBUTIONS

 

POLICY TC40 - DEVELOPER CONTRIBUTIONS

In order to achieve the comprehensive regeneration of the town centre, developer contributions will be sought from all schemes that have a proven indirect or direct impact on the centre, towards the delivery of key elements of highway and other infrastructure (including where appropriate education and community infrastructure), public transport improvements, environmental improvements, pedestrian and cycling improvements, CCTV and other crime and disorder initiatives, public art and the management and maintenance of the public realm of the centre as a whole.

 

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

  • In order to demonstrate the suitability of individual proposals applicants will be required to submit sufficient supporting information to enable the impact of the proposals to be fully considered.

POLICY TC41 - SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

In order to demonstrate the suitability of individual proposals applicants will be required to submit (as deemed appropriate by the Borough Council) the following supporting information with individual planning applications:-

1. Details of the type and quantity of proposed uses.

2. Details of access/restriction arrangements for vehicles and non-car modes including green transport plans and the parking strategy to be employed.

3. Detailed travel assessments to assess the impact of the proposal on the highway network and details of measures to mitigate that impact both within the vicinity of the site and within the wider context of the town centre as a whole. In this respect development will be expected to contribute to the wider transportation and highway strategy for the town centre.

4. Except in the case of extensions to existing premises involving 200 sq.m. or less of additional floorspace, where retail uses are proposed on sites not allocated for retail purposes which lie outside the Primary Shopping Area but within the Plan area, an assessment of need and sequential test of the proposed location will be required in line with the advice contained in PPS6.

5. Where leisure uses are proposed, a statement of compliance with Policy TC37

6. An urban design statement to show how urban design principles have been addressed and how development has responded to a detailed analysis of the local context.

7. Details of how proposals conserve and enhance the town’s heritage including any impacts on the conservation area, listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments and other important archaeological remains.

8. A sustainability audit and energy statement to demonstrate how sustainable principles have been applied to methods of construction, recycling, surface and waste water, and renewable energy. A site specific flood risk assessment will also be required.

9. Details of the number, tenure type, mix of housing types and sizes, and ‘affordability’ of affordable housing provision to meet identified local need.

10. Draft heads of terms outlining the approach to the delivery of key elements of infrastructure.

11. Where residential use is proposed, evidence in relation to air quality to demonstrate that a satisfactory residential environment can be achieved.

12. An appraisal to establish existing biodiversity value of the site and to explain how development proposals will affect or enhance it.

 

7.9 The Council also encourages applicants to take part in pre-application discussions so that when applications are submitted, they stand the best chance of being approved. A project management protocol has also been produced by the Borough Council (in conjunction with Renaissance Bedford) following consultations with the development industry, for major housing developments. This seeks to ensure that the project management and resourcing of these applications at both the Council and developer ends can be agreed between the parties at the outset.

 

Proposals Map

 

Proposals Map

 

Figure 2 Cultural Quarters

Figure 2 Cultural Quarters

 

Figure 3 Walking Routes

Figure 3 Walking Routes

 

Figure 4 Cycling Routes

Figure 4 Cycling Routes

 

 

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