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3.1 The Bedford Borough Community Plan provides the foundation for the development of the overarching vision for Bedford’s Development Framework. This vision is needed to shape the policies which will provide the means of implementation for the spatial aspects of the community plan.

3.2 The vision has been developed in the context of regional planning guidance but also reflects the aspirations of the community (as stated in the community plan).


3.3 The Community Plan (approved in January 2005) has the overarching aim of:
“Working together to improve health and well being”

3.4 In addition, its objective is to improve quality of life for both visitors and those who live and work in the Borough.

The Community Plan has nine key themes:

  • Promoting Community Safety
  • Providing Housing and Building Communities
  • Improving the Environment
  • Improving Health
  • Strengthening the Economy
  • Developing Learning Opportunities and Skills
  • Creating Better Transport
  • Promoting Leisure
  • Including Everyone.

Appendix D sets out the spatial issues which are relevant to the community plan themes. Appendix F identifies how the policies of the core strategy will contribute towards the delivery of the community plan. Regard has also been had to the Bedfordshire Community Strategy. Bedford Borough Council is a member of the Bedfordshire Local Strategic Forum which deals with strategic issues across the county as a whole.


3.6 Regional policy sets the context for development in the region as a whole. The vision and policies of this plan should be in general conformity with regional policy. Regional policy is set out in the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). At the time of submission of this plan to the Secretary of State, the RSS was made up of Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (RPG9) together with a partial review of that document, the Milton Keynes and South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy.

3.7 At the time of submission a review of the RSS, the draft East of England Plan, was nearing completion. While it will replace RPG9, the EEP makes clear that it will not replace the S-RS. The EEP and the S-RS will ‘run along side’ one another until such time as the EEP is reviewed, estimated at late 2011. At that time the two strands of strategy will be merged into a single document. Until they are merged, the EEP will provide the spatial strategy and generic policies for the Borough as a whole, whilst the S-RS will provide a more detailed strategic framework for that part of the Borough identified as being within the Bedford/Kempston and northern Marston Vale Growth Area.


3.8 By 2021 Bedford Borough will have become a place where:

“Change is embraced. Growth focused on the borough’s main urban areas and the Marston Vale has fostered a successful economy and expanding sustainable ommunities, supported by better social and transport infrastructure. At the same time the town centre has been revitalised, acting as a catalyst for growth and leading to a step change in Bedford’s role and place within the region. Rural communities have been sustained through meeting local needs and remain viable. All of this will have been achieved in ways which ensure that the development and use of land promotes quality of life, health and well being for everyone as well as celebrating our distinctiveness and protecting the Borough’s environmental assets.”

3.9 The borough wide vision is expanded below to cover the specific challenges which need to be addressed.


  • Bedford will have reclaimed its role as the county town, building on its distinctive personality.
  • It will be a prosperous, bustling, safe place where more people will live and work with a greater quality and range of services and facilities.
  • Redevelopment in the Riverside, Castle Lane and bus station areas increasing the quantity and range of retail space, dwellings and leisure facilities will have contributed to the revitalisation of the town centre.


  • Bedford, Kempston and the northern Marston Vale will be the areas of the borough that have changed the most.
  • The pace of housing delivery in the Growth Area will have increased.
  • An expanded local economy will produce good quality jobs which in turn help strengthen the housing market.
  • Bedford will increasingly service the Milton Keynes and South Midlands Growth Area’s knowledge-based economy and become a regional centre for business, arts, creative industries and culture.
  • The urban area will have expanded westwards, and to the north and north east with the establishment of high quality neighbourhoods with local facilities and good links to the town centre.
  • Wixams new settlement will be a vibrant, developing, sustainable community with a new rail connection to London.
  • The Marston Vale will fulfil its potential in becoming a centre for green infrastructure and leisure through the Forest of Marston Vale initiative and potentially the concept of the Bedford - Milton Keynes Canal.
  • The transport network infrastructure and the quality of public transport services will have improved.
  • East-west communications will be much improved with the completion of the Great Barford bypass and improvements to the A421 west of Bedford and the Oxford - Bedford rail link.


  • The rural areas will have stayed rural.
  • The villages will have retained their separate, distinctive and varied characters.
  • The rural area will be a viable place in which to live and work with a range of services and facilities and housing opportunities to meet local needs.
  • The transport network will provide accessibility to places of work, leisure and shopping.


3.10 In order to deliver the vision of the plan, the objectives below have been identified. They have been developed in consultation with the community and provide specific direction to the policies of the plan. Appendix C illustrates which plan policies are derived from which objective.

  1. Deliver the planned growth in Bedford, Kempston and the northern Marston Vale (Local Plan 2002 commitments – see Figure 2) to achieve a step change in the Borough’s role in the region.
  2. Ensure future development is based upon sustainable development principles.
  3. Provide guidance on where any future growth if required should occur (in the period up to 2021).
  4. Provide quality housing to meet current and future needs of all sectors of the community.
  5. Foster significant employment growth.
  6. Direct retail development to the most appropriate locations.
  7. Foster the regeneration of Bedford town centre to enable it to fulfil a greater role within the region.
  8. Support the delivery of coordinated transport improvements with the emphasis on non-car modes, improving east-west communications and achieving greater transport interchange.
  9. Encourage key rural communities to become more sustainable places to live and work.
  10. Achieve high quality design that takes account of character, local distinctiveness and sustainable design principles, enables access and promotes community safety.
  11. Protect and enhance the countryside, biodiversity and geodiversity, and the quality and connectivity of green infrastructure in the borough with particular emphasis on enhancing the Marston Vale.
  12. Minimise the use of energy and encourage greater use of energy from renewable sources.
  13. Provide a mechanism for the delivery of infrastructure (including health, education, transport, community, leisure and recreation facilities) in tandem with new development.
  14. Protect and enhance the Borough’s built, cultural and community assets and the character  of settlements and foster the development of the Borough as a destination for heritage and cultural tourism.
  15. Protect the environment by minimising the risk of flooding and the effects of climate change and facilitating improvements in air quality.
  16. Involve the community in the decisions about the planning of the Borough so they can influence and shape such decisions.

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