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PART FOUR
THE SPATIAL STRATEGY

HOW WE GET THERE

4.1 The previous section sets out a vision of “where we want to be” by 2021 and suggested some of the key outcomes which we will be looking to achieve. The purpose of this section is to address the question “how do we get there” and to outline the policies needed to realise the plan’s vision and objectives.

4.2 The spatial portrait (Section 2) describes the kind of place that Bedford is today. It has many strengths: its strategic location; its environment, built and natural; its people and diverse communities; and its compact town centre positioned on one of the region’s great rivers. However it also has weaknesses which were highlighted as issues for this plan to address. Relative to the surrounding area, these include a legacy of under investment, a poorly performing local economy, a weak housing market and an infrastructure deficit. Bedford has increasingly been overshadowed by its neighbours with the result that over time its function and role in the region has been eroded.

4.3 National and regional planning guidance provide the context for the scope and nature of the change which will take place in the borough. Public sector investment programmes will help determine the pace of that change.

4.4 The draft East of England Plan sets out planning policy for the region and thus the whole of Bedford Borough. A part of the borough has been designated as being within the Milton Keynes & South Midlands Growth Area, established in the government’s Sustainable Communities Plan of 2003. The sub-regional strategy for the Growth Area designates the urban areas of Bedford and Kempston and the northern Marston Vale as the focal point for growth in north Bedfordshire. Most of this area is within Bedford Borough but a small part of the Marston Vale lies in Mid Bedfordshire District. The Bedford Growth Area (the area within which growth locations are to be defined) is indicated on the Key Diagram (Appendix A).

4.4 Policies for the location of much more modest levels of development in the Rural Policy Area beyond the Bedford Growth Area are set out in the draft East of England Plan. The plan directs development towards market towns and thereafter to the larger villages with a good range of services known as key service centres.

4.5 Acknowledging the influence of the two different regional plans which apply to the borough, it is necessary to make a clear distinction between the preferred locations for development in the Growth Area and the Rural Policy Areas beyond. The housing requirements for the two policy areas are discrete. The two housing targets will be monitored separately and not collectively and there will be no transfer of requirements between the two policy areas. However, it is important to note that the requirement for new jobs will be monitored borough-wide. No regional or sub-regional figures are available for the two discrete policy areas though, in line with regional and sub- regional strategies, the Growth Area will be the focus for new employment provision.

4.7 For the purposes of this plan two policy areas are defined; the Bedford Growth Area and the Rural Policy Area (see para 4.6). The Rural Policy Area is the area not covered by the Bedford, Kempston and the northern Marston Vale Growth Area. The Growth Area and Rural Policy Area are shown on the Key Diagram.

The following table shows which policies in the plan relate to both the Growth Area and the Rural Policy Area, and which policies do not.


Policy Applies to the Growth Area Applies to the Rural Policy Area
CP1 and CP2
CP3 to CP6
CP7 to CP11
CP12 and CP13
CP14
CP15 and CP16
CP17 and CP18
CP19 to CP31

4.8 The growth agenda offers a new impetus and most importantly the commitment on the part of the government and the council to redress the balance. In the coming years, there is a real opportunity to embrace change and to re-establish the borough’s position and profile in the region.

4.9 In spatial terms, this means dramatically expanding the local economy to encourage population growth through in-migration and thereby growing the housing market. Housing and employment growth will be concentrated in the Bedford, Kempston and northern Marston Vale Growth Area. This includes development of a new settlement, Wixams, and new strategic employment site(s) to provide quality employment accommodation. New development will be accompanied by improved transport infrastructure including a new Wixams rail station, bypasses and park and ride services. The countryside and smaller villages in the borough will continue to be viable areas for business and leisure. The provision of affordable housing will be a priority in the Borough. The role of the Bedford town centre will be strengthened so that it becomes a place where more people choose to live and shop. This will include new shopping facilities, tourism and cultural provision, improved public transport interchanges and living accommodation. The borough will seek to provide a quality environment. The Council will seek to minimise pollution and the effects of climate change from new developments. Specific environmental measures include the provision of green infrastructure and continued support for the Forest of Marston Vale.

4.10 In essence the role of the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan is to provide the spatial framework to manage growth positively and in that context to promote the sustainability of the borough as a whole (see Policy CP2). The Plan forms part of a suite of strategies including the Council’s Community Plan, Corporate Plan and economic development strategy “Changing Places”, that share this common aim. Strategic approaches to sustainability and climate change issues, such as flood risk management are also relevant, for example, the Marston Vale Surface Waters Plan.

4.11 The impact of the borough’s response to this challenge will be dependent upon the support of the Regional Economic Strategy, the Regional Housing Strategy and the Regional Transport Strategy which will guide public sector investment; the government’s growth area funding programmes; and the efforts of Renaissance Bedford, the Local Development Delivery Vehicle established by key stakeholders to champion growth  within the designated Growth Area.

4.12 Two strategic policies are proposed:


POLICY CP1 - SPATIAL STRATEGY

Sustainable levels, locations and forms of development will be sought in accordance with the stated objectives and policies of this Plan and the objectives and policies of the East of England Plan and the Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy.


POLICY CP2 - SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES

The development and use of land will ensure that:

  1. Resources and infrastructure are used efficiently with the priority on the re-use of brownfield land; and,
  2. Biodiversity is protected and scarce resources are conserved; and,
  3. Climate change, renewable energy and drainage issues are properly addressed; and,
  4. Buildings and spaces promote the character of townscape and setting of settlements and enhance human health and safety; and,
  5. The character and quality of local landscapes are preserved and where appropriate enhanced; and,
  6. Important historic and cultural features are protected; and,
  7. The use of public transport, walking and cycling is encouraged and car use minimised; and,
  8. Opportunities for leisure, recreation and tourism are readily available.

Figure 15

4.13 The remaining policies are structured under five themes. The themes reflect the issues that the plan needs to address and the key elements of the spatial vision and objectives. The five themes are:

THE GROWTH AREA

This section includes:

  • The location of development
  • Housing
  • Employment.

SUSTAINABLE RURAL COMMUNITIES

This section includes:

  • The framework for development in the Rural Policy Area (outside the Bedford Growth Area).
  • The provision of housing and employment.
  • The provision of housing to meet local needs.

TOWN CENTRE REGENERATION AND REVITALISATION

This section includes:

  • How the town centre will change.
  • The impact the town centre will need to have on the Growth Area and borough as a whole.

DISTINCTIVENESS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ASSETS

This section includes:

  • Accentuating the borough's positive and distinctive features.
  • Quality development to create a sense of place.
  • Promoting sustainability in the built and natural environment and protecting our assets.

DELIVERY AND IMPLEMENTATION

  • Transport and community infrastructure
  • Approach to monitoring.

THE GROWTH AREA

THE LOCATION OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE GROWTH AREA

SEE KEY DIAGRAM IN APPENDIX A

4.14 In relation to determining appropriate locations for development in the Growth Area, the Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy states that:

  • Bedford Town Centre will be the location for a range of development types including retail, cultural and leisure development and a range of office accommodation. Allocations to meet these requirements are identified in the Town Centre Area Action Plan.
  • Housing development is expected to take place principally on sites within the Bedford Growth Area that are existing allocations, in order to foster certainty and continuity. These allocations are identified in the Bedford Borough Local Plan 2002 and include:
    • Sites within the existing urban area
    • Sites adjoining the urban area within the urban area boundary
    • Defined locations in the Marston Vale at Wootton, Stewartby and Wixams (see Figure 2).
  • There is an expectation that specific economic sectors will be fostered, particularly high value knowledge based industries. To provide for the right quality and type of development and to encourage investment, new sites may be required in sustainable locations.

Local Plan 2002 Commitments

Figure 2 Local Plan 2002 Commitments

4.15 The extent of the Growth Area is shown on the Key Diagram. Should the Council determine through monitoring that development delivery from the committed sites is likely to become exhausted and there be a need to make additional land allocations to meet Growth Area delivery targets through the plan-making process, the Council would seek sites by applying Policy CP5. In order to ensure that the most sustainable options were chosen, the Council may need to look beyond the extent of the Growth Area shown on the Key Diagram. If this became necessary, the Growth Area would be expanded to accommodate those sites.

4.16 In this context, Policy CP3 focuses development within the Growth Area on the urban area (including the town centre) and Growth Area key service centres. The Council’s 2002 Local Plan established the urban area  boundary as a policy tool. The urban area boundary marks the outer limit of the expansion of Bedford and Kempston. The urban area boundary is shown on the Local Plan Proposals Map. Whilst not within the   boundary the settlement of Shortstown which immediately adjoins the urban area, is considered in policy  terms to be urban. The Shortstown Development Brief 2003 proposes a development limit for the settlement which will be further considered through the Allocations and Designations DPD. In the interim period before the adoption of the Allocations and Designations DPD, the Development Brief boundary will be treated as the SPA boundary for Shortstown.

4.17 In Policy CP4 Wootton, Stewartby and Wixams are identified as key service centres. They are all focal points  for the provision of homes, jobs facilities and services. Wixams is shown “bracketed” reflecting the fact that whilst not yet implemented, Wixams has the potential to become a key service centre during the plan period. The methodology for the identification of key service centres is set out in the Supporting Information. The development limits for Wootton and Stewartby are defined by their Settlement Policy Areas (see para 4.52). SPA boundaries in the Growth Area are defined in the adopted Local Plan 2002 and are shown on the Proposals Map Insets. SPA boundaries are to be reassessed, where required, as part of the Allocations and Designations DPD. In the case of Wixams a SPA will be defined through the Allocations and Designations DPD.

4.18 The land outside of the defined limits of the urban area and the key service centres is in policy terms open countryside. The countryside policies CP12, CP13 and CP17 will therefore apply in these areas.


POLICY CP3 - THE LOCATION OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE GROWTH AREA

The locations for growth will be

  1. within the urban area boundary
  2. within the defined limits of Growth Area key service centres

Outside of the areas defined in i) and ii) policies CP12, CP13 and CP17 will apply.


POLICY CP4 - KEY SERVICE CENTRES IN THE GROWTH AREA

The Growth Area key service centres are (will be):

  1. Stewartby
  2. Wootton
  3. (Wixams).

The Growth Area key service centres are identified on the Key Diagram.

SEQUENTIAL APPROACH TO THE ALLOCATION OF LAND FOR RESIDENTIAL AND EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT IN THE GROWTH AREA

4.19 The sequential approach set out below in Policy CP5 will be used to provide a framework for any additional allocations which may need to be made (through the Allocations and Designations DPD) in the plan period. The MKSM Sub-Regional Strategy sets the sub-regional housing requirement and clearly endorses the development of housing on committed sites from the Local Plan 2002 to meet the requirement. At 31/03/2007, 10,061 of the required 16,270 dwellings had been completed or had been granted planning permission. A further 3,375 were subject to resolutions to grant planning permission subject to the completion of Section 106 agreements. The current position of housing supply is shown in Appendix F. The Council considers that, with the current reliance on ‘windfall’ development, the total 16,270 dwellings can  be developed without the need for further allocations. However, to enable the policy to be responsive to changes in circumstances and to bring the strategy into line with national guidance on ‘windfall’ sites, Policy CP5 provides a search sequence for housing allocations.

4.20 The search sequence for residential development endorses the need to target accessible locations and conserve greenfield land. Suitable sites in step 1 may include regeneration sites, re-use of employment land (in accordance with Policy CP11), intensification and mixed use development.

4.21 Monitoring of the delivery of housing within the Growth Area will be undertaken (see Appendix F) and could trigger a review of the Allocations and Designations Development Plan Document (DPD). Policy CP5 will provide the necessary search sequence and guidance to identify sites for housing in such a DPD.

4.22 Steps 2 and 3 enable the site search to be widened where necessary to land adjoining the urban area and Growth Area key service centres subject to sustainability and environmental considerations.

4.23 In relation to employment sites it is recognised that the locational requirements of businesses vary between employment types. These requirements will need to be balanced with a locational approach which seeks to reduce travel to work and targets locations which can be served by energy efficient modes of transport. Suitable sites on previously developed or underused land may include small sites in residential neighbourhoods and reuse of existing employment sites. In accordance with national planning guidance the town centre will be the preferred location for office provision. See also Policy CP19. Urban extension sites will need to be well related to the primary transport network and have or be capable of achieving good connections to the public transport and cycle network.


Figure 17

POLICY CP5 - SEQUENTIAL APPROACH TO THE ALLOCATION OF LAND FOR RESIDENTIAL AND EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT IN THE GROWTH AREA

The council will look to allocate sites for development using the steps below in the order shown.

Search sequence for residential development

Step 1: previously developed land and underused land within the existing urban area and Growth Area key service centres
Step 2: urban extensions.
Step 3: extensions to Growth Area key service centres.

Priority in the selection of sites in steps 2 and 3 will be determined in relation to the following factors.

  • The need to make best use of previously developed land.
  • The need to conserve and enhance the environmental assets of the borough as set out in Policies CP21 – CP26.
  • Access to public transport, cycle and walking networks or an ability to provide new or upgrade existing provision.
  • Access to jobs and community and leisure provision.
  • Adequacy of infrastructure and services to meet the needs of the development or the ability to provide new, or upgrade existing infrastructure.
  • The impact which the site may have on the delivery of strategic infrastructure needed to strengthen the housing market and increase the rate of housing delivery.

Search sequence for employment development

Step 1: previously developed land and underused land within the existing urban area and Growth Area key service centres. In the case of office development the town centre will be the preferred location.
Step 2: urban extensions which are well related to the primary transport network and have or are capable of achieving good connections to the public transport and cycle network.
Step 3: extensions to Growth Area key service centres which are well related to the primary transport network and have or are capable of achieving good connections to the public transport and cycle network.
Step 4: other Growth Area locations which satisfy a proven need for a quality or a size of site not available in or on the edge of the urban area or Growth Area key service centres.

Priority in the selection of sites in steps 2 - 4 will be determined in relation to the following factors.

  • The need to make best use of previously developed land.
  • The need to conserve and enhance the environmental assets of the borough as set out in Policies CP21-CP26.
  • Site suitability in the context of the range and quality of business uses required in accordance with Policies CP21-26.
  • Access to the primary transport network.
  • Good access to public transport, cycle and walking networks or an ability to provide new, or upgrade existing provision.
  • Adequacy of infrastructure and services to meet the needs of the development or the ability to provide or upgrade existing infrastructure.

HOUSING IN THE GROWTH AREA

4.24 The Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy (MKSM SRS) sets targets for the level of housing provision in the period 2001-2021 and provides guidance on the mix and range of housing which needs to  be provided.

4.25 In total 19,500 dwellings are to be provided in the Bedford, Kempston and northern Marston Vale Growth Area as a whole, 16,270 of which are to be located in Bedford Borough. The strategy also expects annual housing completions to rise over the plan period requiring a higher pace of development in the years 2006- 2021 (876 dwellings p.a.) compared to the first five years of the plan period (626 dwellings p.a.). Monitoring data for the period 2001-2004/5 shows that there has been an under-delivery of housing to meet the requirement (an average of 438 dwellings per annum). Dwelling completions for the remaining 16 year plan period will need to average 907 per annum to meet the requirement by 2021. At 31/03/2005 there was a supply of over 12,157 dwellings in the Growth Area. The delivery of housing in the Growth Area is expected to accelerate through the remainder of the plan period (see Appendix F for further details). The preparation  of an Allocations and Designations DPD is to be commenced in 2007. This will provide flexibility in supply of housing land.

4.26 Priority will be given in phasing residential development to delivering existing commitments (as allocated in the Local Plan 2002) and to the proposals coming forward in the Bedford Town Centre Area Action Plan. The priority given to Local Plan allocations reflects the endorsement given by the Local Plan Inspector to sites which together provide substantial commitments (primarily for housing) in accordance with national policy and compatible with the regional guidance now in force. The sites allocated in the local plan (2002) within and adjoining the urban area, and at Wootton, Stewartby and Wixams fit well with the MKSM SRS. These  sites must be given the opportunity to play their part in delivering the growth now required in the area.    They all have or are near to achieving planning permission and crucially, they provide much of the infrastructure which is vital for improving the borough’s strategic accessibility. Thereafter, development of housing will be promoted in accordance with Policy CP6 in step with supporting key infrastructure, such as transport, utilities, health, education and environmental infrastructure. The maintenance of a satisfactory relationship between housing provision and job growth in the borough is also important to prevent an increase in out-commuting from the area.


POLICY CP6 - THE SCALE AND PACE OF HOUSING DEVELOPMENT IN THE GROWTH AREA

Provision will be made for 16,270 additional dwellings in the Bedford Growth Area between 2001 and 2021 to be phased as follows:


  2001-2005 2006-2010 2011-2015 2016-2021 TOTAL
Bedford Growth Area 3130 4380 4380 4380 16,270

4.27 It is vital to ensure that these new dwellings provide a mix of sizes, types and tenures to meet the identified needs of all sectors of the community. The affordable housing element of schemes must reflect housing need in terms of tenure and housing size and mix. On sites of 15 dwellings and above applicants for  planning permission will be expected to submit a statement explaining how they have taken account of housing needs (both market and affordable) in devising their proposed mix of tenures and house types.

4.28 The mix and range of market housing is an important consideration. As household size and housing preferences continue to change it is important to ensure that new housing reflects these housing requirements. These will be kept under review through housing market assessments in line with national government guidance (currently in draft form).

4.29 On the basis of the council’s most recent Housing Requirement Study (2003) the borough will need to provide in the region of 224 affordable dwellings each year to address housing needs. Households in housing need are defined in the Housing Requirement Study as those households currently lacking their own housing or living in housing which is unsuitable or inadequate, who cannot afford to buy or rent suitable housing in the open market and who are unable to resolve their situation without assistance.

4.30 Those in housing need span a broad range of household types and some groups within the community have particular housing needs including older people, those with special needs, the homeless and low income groups. There are also differing requirements in relation to size and type of dwelling and affordability. The greatest need continues to be for social rented accommodation but a range of low cost accommodation  and intermediate tenures is also required. Applicants should seek early advice from the council as to the requirements for affordable housing so that they can be incorporated into market housing layouts.

4.31 National guidance on affordable housing is set out in PPS3: Housing. The guidance states that the national indicative minimum site size threshold above which an element of affordable housing can be required is 15 dwellings. Lower minimum thresholds can be set where practicable and viable including in rural areas.

4.32 The borough has a good supply of sites in the Growth Area which will provide affordable housing and no reason therefore to lower the threshold below 15 dwellings. In the rural areas however, once the sites   allocated in the local plan are completed, a lower threshold will be needed to help maintain affordable  housing supply alongside measures to enable affordable housing to meet local housing needs (see Policy CP17).


POLICY CP7 - MEETING HOUSING NEEDS

New housing developments will be expected to provide a mix of dwelling size and type to meet the identified housing needs of the community. Larger sites should provide a broad mix of housing suitable for different household types. On smaller sites, the mix of housing should contribute to the creation of mixed communities.

This policy also applies outside the Growth Area


POLICY CP8 - AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THE BOROUGH

On sites of 15 units and over (or 0.5ha and over) and in villages having a population of less than 3,000 on sites of 3 dwellings or more (or 0.1ha and over) the council will expect the provision of 30% affordable housing.

The policy will apply where a planning application could have been submitted for a larger site within the above policy threshold. Other than in exceptional circumstances, affordable housing provision should be made on-site.

This policy also applies outside the Growth Area.

4.33 In meeting housing needs the council is required to take account of the needs of Gypsies and Travellers and travelling show people. Although government advice specifically excludes travelling show people from the definition of Gypsies and Travellers, the similarity in the locational requirements of the three groups means that the same policy approach can be adopted.

4.34 Local authorities are required to carry out Gypsies and Traveller Accommodation Assessments (GTAAs) to inform the preparation of Development Plan Documents. A sub-regional Gypsy and Traveller
Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) was completed in 2007. Government guidance also states that Regional Spatial Strategies must specify pitch requirements for each local planning authority area based on local accommodation assessments (GTAAs). The East of England Regional Assembly is currently carrying out a single issue RSS review to address the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites to which the sub-regional GTAA will provide background evidence.

4.35 Where a need has been identified through the RSS (or, in advance of this, through a GTAA) for the provision of additional Gypsy and Traveller sites, such sites should be located in general accordance with Policies CP3 and CP14. In principle a sequential approach will be followed to identify any necessary allocations as part of the Allocations and Designations DPD process. However, it is recognised that land which is available and affordable within the urban area and within SPAs for these purposes is likely to be limited and, given the working patterns of some Gypsies and Travellers, may not be suitable to meet their needs. In these circumstances, countryside locations may also need to be considered.

4.36 Proposals for sites for travelling showpeople will be assessed against the Policy CP9 criteria. Their specific needs have not been assessed through the GTAA and their need for sites will, therefore, be addressed separately in accordance with the advice in Circular 04/2007: Planning for Travelling Showpeople.


POLICY CP9 - ACCOMMODATION FOR GYPSIES, TRAVELLERS AND TRAVELLING SHOWPEOPLE

Where a need has been identified through the RSS (or, in advance of this, through a GTAA) for  the provision of additional accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers, sites will be allocated and planning permission will be granted within or adjoining the urban area or SPAs or, where no such sites are reasonably available or suitable for the use, in the countryside, provided that in relation to all locations, the following requirements are clearly satisfied:

  1. Submission of evidence to justify local need for the scale and nature of the accommodation proposed; and
  2. Satisfactory vehicular access from the public highway; and
  3. Siting and landscaping ensure that any impact upon the character and appearance of the locality is minimised, including impacts on biodiversity and nature conservation. In areas of nationally recognised designations planning permission will only be granted where the objectives of designation would not be compromised by the development; and
  4. The amenities of the occupiers of nearby land and property would not be harmed by the development in an unacceptable manner; and
  5. Adequate schools, shops and other community facilities are within reasonable travelling distance and preferably can be reached by foot, cycle or public transport; and
  6. The scale of the site or the number of pitches would not be sufficient to dominate the nearest settled community and would not place undue pressure on local infrastructure; and
  7. The site would not be located in an area at high risk of flooding, including functional floodplain.

This policy also applies outside of the Growth Area.

EMPLOYMENT IN THE GROWTH AREA

4.37 A step change in housing delivery will only result from a step change in the local economy of Bedford, as this is necessary to strengthen the local housing market. The Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy sets a target of facilitating a net gain of some 11,400 jobs in the borough as a whole, whilst stating the need to review this figure as part of the preparation of the East of England Plan. (This plan currently indicates that a further 9,000 jobs should be provided in Bedfordshire beyond the Growth Areas but as yet no allocations have been made to individual districts.) The borough council considers the MKSM SRS target to under-estimate both needs and the influence that an expanding economy must have on the delivery of housing growth.

4.38 The MKSM SRS looks to regional economic strategies to be the principal strategic means of building prosperity. The East of England Development Agency’s Regional Economic Strategy establishes the regional priorities for economic development. These are applied at sub-regional level by the ‘Building a Sustainable Economy’, the Bedfordshire & Luton Joint Economic Development Strategy and at local level by ‘Changing Places’ the economic development strategy for Bedford and the northern Marston Vale. The sub-regional Joint Economic Development Strategy indicates that Bedfordshire’s economy needs to grow by 50,000 jobs net during the plan period. This is reflected in ‘Changing Places’ and is regarded as a realistic target by the Borough Council since local economic growth is a key priority and considerable effort will be required to reverse the trends. Apportioning the 50,000 jobs between the individual Districts indicates that Bedford Borough will need to provide in the region of 16,000 additional jobs to 2021.

4.39 For more than a decade “declining” industries in Bedfordshire have declined at a faster rate than in adjoining areas whilst “growth” industries have grown at a slower rate. The comparative size of the local economy has thus shrunk in marked contrast to other regional centres. Although the expansion of London Luton Airport would be a major economic stimulant in the south of the County, its impact in Bedford is less certain. Most employment sites and centres of excellence are located within the Growth Area - in or near to Bedford.

4.40 The principal obstacles to economic growth have been identified as strategic accessibility (the infrastructure deficit which current programmes are beginning to address), the absence of a positive investment profile (which is about marketing and promotion) and the availability of suitable business premises (both in terms of quantity and quality). The promotion of innovation, enterprise and skill development will also be important and support from local colleges can help in this regard, but achieving the scale of change required will depend upon the extent that businesses move to or expand in Bedford.

4.41 Inward investment measures will naturally focus on the high value knowledge based growth industries. However the local economy needs to expand in all sectors including tourism and there is a need to target more general office and shop based service industries in order to create a balanced economy and support the renaissance of Bedford Town Centre.

4.42 So far, the practice of allocating open-ended employment sites (that allow B1, B2 or B8 to be built) has resulted in mostly warehousing and distribution developments (Use Class B8) being implemented. Whilst this investment interest is welcomed and it is recognised that this use of the particular sites coming forward is  the most appropriate, there are concerns that the market is failing to provide a range of accommodation.  This has hampered the expansion of the local economy since quality office (B1) and to a lesser extent  smaller industrial (B2) premises remain in short supply. The concern is not so much about the density of jobs created by new warehousing but more about the quality of those jobs, the supply of unskilled labour and   the limited potential impact that such jobs would have on strengthening the demand for local housing.

4.43 Details of the supply of employment land are shown in Appendix F and will be regularly updated through the Annual Monitoring Report.

4.44 Since the Borough’s main business park (Priory Business Park) is now largely developed, the supply of high quality B1 office environments has become critical and, in addition to promoting redevelopment within the town centre (focused on the railway station), it is likely that the local planning authority will need to seek out one or two new strategic business sites. The focus for the allocation of quality B1 space will be the Growth Area in accordance with the search sequence set out in Policy CP5.

4.45 The Council commissioned a review of employment land in the borough (2005) in accordance with guidance issued by the government. The findings of the study support the need for an additional 75ha of quality B1 office space (during the period 2001-2021) and forecast a decline in the B2 and B8 sectors. Information on the supply of land for employment purposes is set out in Appendix F. Table 4 in Appendix F shows a   potential supply of about 54ha of B1 land, leaving in the region of 21ha to be identified (up to 30ha if some existing permissions are discounted) in an Allocations and Designations DPD. Whilst the expectation is for B2 and B8 sectors to decline to 2021, recent monitoring shows that the borough is still experiencing some B2 and B8 growth. It is expected that the re-use of existing B2 and B8 sites along with the land supply shown in Table 4 will cater for B2 and B8 demand during this period.

4.46 The retention of existing businesses and the space they occupy is also important since over 20ha of employment sites have been lost to other uses in five years (2000-2005). The criteria for assessing the merits of such sites will be set out in the Allocations and Designations DPD.


POLICY CP10 - THE CREATION OF JOBS

A minimum of 16,000 net additional jobs will be provided in the borough by 2021. Provision for new jobs will be made in accordance with policies CP3 and CP14 to support and/or create sustainable communities.

This policy also applies outside the Growth Area.

 

POLICY CP11 - EMPLOYMENT LAND

Up to 75 hectares of additional employment land will be provided in the period 2001-2021. In such allocations the emphasis will be on creating new B1 environments providing a range of quality development opportunities to encourage the development of high value knowledge- based industries and smaller units in both urban and rural areas.

The Council will allocate sites specific to the B1, B2 and B8 Use Classes to achieve a mix and range of sites and a balanced economy.

The preferred location for strategic employment sites will be the Growth Area in accordance with CP5.

Land allocated for employment and existing employment sites will only be considered for alternative uses where its retention is unnecessary and specific community and environmental benefits can be demonstrated and achieved.

This policy also applies outside the Growth Area.

SUSTAINABLE RURAL COMMUNITIES

4.47 Beyond the urban areas of Bedford and Kempston, the borough is made up of a large rural area which is home to about a third of the borough’s residents. The Ouse valley is a key determinant of the rural settlement pattern  with many of the larger villages being located along its course. Away from the river valley the north-east of the borough is, in comparison, much more sparsely populated. In the south of the borough the landscape and settlement pattern has been strongly influenced by the use of the clays of the Marston Vale for brickmaking.

4.48 Although diverse in character the borough’s rural communities face similar challenges. The provision of rural facilities and services and affordable housing for local people are key issues.

4.49 The plan’s vision is to ensure that the rural area retains its varied character and remains a viable place to live and work.

4.50 For the purposes of this plan two policy areas are defined; the Bedford Growth Area and the Rural Policy Area (see para 4.6). The Rural Policy Area is the area not covered by the Bedford, Kempston and the northern Marston Vale Growth Area. The Growth Area and Rural Policy Area are shown on the Key Diagram.

4.51 The primary purpose of this section is to set out the policies for the Rural Policy Area in particular the location of development and the amount of housing development required in the plan period. It should be noted however, that land outside the defined settlement policy areas of key service centres within the Growth Area is treated as open countryside in policy terms and Polices CP12, CP13, CP17 and CP18 apply to it. In addition, there are five policies within the Growth Area chapter of the plan which include borough wide policies and which apply both in the Growth and Rural Policy Areas. These are Policies CP7, CP8, CP9, CP10 and CP11.

SETTLEMENT POLICY AREAS

4.52 The Council’s 2002 Local Plan established Settlement Policy Areas (SPAs) as a policy tool. The SPAs define the extent of the built up character of settlements and distinguish between the built-up areas of villages and the surrounding countryside. They promote the sustainability of the countryside and rural communities by:

  • Protecting the countryside for its own sake, preventing the coalescence of settlements, ribbon development and the piecemeal extension of villages and promoting rural restraint.
  • Focusing development needed to sustain rural communities on the built-up areas of villages.

4.53 SPA boundaries are defined in the adopted Local Plan 2002 and are shown on the Proposals Map Insets. SPA boundaries are to be reassessed, where required, as part of the Allocations and Designations DPD.


POLICY CP12 - SETTLEMENT POLICY AREAS

Settlement Policy Areas are defined for villages with a built-up character. The Settlement Policy Area boundary encloses the main built-up part of the village but excludes undeveloped areas or more loosely knit development.

This policy also applies in the Growth Area.


POLICY CP13 - THE COUNTRYSIDE AND DEVELOPMENT WITHIN IT

All land outside the Settlement Policy Areas is defined as countryside. Development in the countryside will only be permitted if it would be consistent with national policy, particularly that in PPS7: Planning and the Countryside.

This policy also applies in the Growth Area.

LOCATION OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE RURAL POLICY AREA

4.54 The draft East of England Plan states that in determining appropriate locations for development in the Rural Policy Area:

  • Development should be focused in market towns and thereafter in key service centres. (As the borough does not have any market towns the focus will be on key service centres).
  • Key service centres (defined as large villages with a good level of services) are identified as the settlements most appropriate for accommodating housing and employment needs.
  • In other rural settlements the emphasis is on supporting the rural economy and services and meeting local housing needs.

4.55 In this context Policy CP14 makes a clear distinction between development in the rural key service centres and other settlements with SPAs. Where residential, employment and retail development occurs within the Rural Policy Area it will be focused in key service centres. Limited infill development may also be permitted in other SPAs. Only exceptionally will development be permitted outside SPAs.

4.56 The rural key service centres (Policy CP15) have been identified taking account of:

  • The draft East of England Plan.
  • Research into the level of services and facilities in each village, their population and the public transport provision in the Rural Policy Area.
  • The distribution of settlements within the borough.
  • The settlement hierarchies proposed within the neighbouring local authorities.

4.57 The methodology is set out in full in the Supporting Information.


POLICY CP14 - LOCATION OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE RURAL POLICY AREA

In circumstances where there is a proven need for development to be located in the Rural Policy Area, most new development will be focused in or around the edge of key service centres where employment, housing (including affordable housing), services and other facilities can be provided close together.

In rural settlements defined by a Settlement Policy Area boundary which are not designated as Key Service Centres, such development will be restricted to that which is required to meet local business and community needs and to maintain the vitality of those communities.


POLICY CP15 – RURAL KEY SERVICE CENTRES

The rural key service centres are:

  • Bromham
  • Clapham
  • Great Barford
  • Harrold
  • Sharnbrook
  • Wilstead

The rural key service centres are identified on the Key Diagram.

SCALE AND NATURE OF HOUSING IN THE RURAL POLICY AREA

4.58 The scale of housing development in the Rural Policy Area is defined in the draft East of England Plan which proposes 1300 dwellings in the period 2001-2021. The council’s housing monitoring indicates that, at 31/03/2007, completions and planning permissions in the borough outside the Growth Area had already reached 1348. Monitoring data shows that completion rates have exceeded requirements in the early years  of the plan period. Completion rates at this level are not expected to continue in the Rural Policy Area throughout the plan period (see Appendix F for further details).

Affordable Housing

4.59 To improve the provision of affordable housing in the rural areas (including the rural areas within both the Rural Policy Area and the Growth Area), the Council will use the following methods:

  • To ensure the provision of more affordable dwellings in smaller settlements, affordable housing will  be sought on sites of 3 or more dwellings in settlements of under 3000 population. (On sites of 3 dwellings, 1 affordable dwelling will be sought). Elsewhere affordable housing will be required on sites of 15 dwellings and above.
  • Where affordable housing need is identified for local ‘qualifying persons’ within a parish or group of adjacent parishes, affordable housing development will be encouraged. ‘Qualifying persons’ are defined as a person or persons in housing need (as defined in para 4.26) who live in, or are employed in, or have close local connections with the relevant village or parish or an immediately neighbouring parish.

4.60 In addition parish councils are advised and encouraged to do two things. Firstly to maintain awareness   through regular survey as to the extent and nature of local affordable housing needs. Secondly to assist the management of future housing provided in this manner, explore the potential for creating a village trust or similar vehicle, or establish a relationship with a provider of affordable housing who will work with the parish.


POLICY CP16 - HOUSING IN THE RURAL POLICY AREA


  • The Rural Policy Area of the borough will provide for a net increase of 1300 dwellings in the period 2001-2021.
  • A mix of dwelling type and size will be provided in accordance with Policy CP7.
  • Affordable housing will be provided in accordance with Policies CP8 and CP17.

POLICY CP17 - AFFORDABLE HOUSING TO MEET LOCAL NEEDS IN THE RURAL AREA

Exceptionally, permission will be granted for sites providing 100% affordable housing to meet identified local needs. Within the defined area of need and subject to environmental constraints, sites should be identified in accordance with the following search sequence:

  1. Within a settlement with a SPA.
  2. Immediately adjoining a settlement with a SPA.
  3. Within or immediately adjoining a settlement without a SPA.

Permission will only be granted where:

  1. Local housing need is evidenced by an up to date survey and the number, size, design, mix and tenure of the dwellings are all confined to and appropriate to the strict extent of the identified local need; and,
  2. The site meets the locational criteria set out above; and,
  3. The development should contribute positively to the character of the village, maintain landscape character and not lead to coalescence with other settlements; and,
  4. The proposed site is well related to the built up area of the settlement and the scale of the scheme is appropriate to the structure, form, character and size of the village; and,
  5. The housing proposed must be capable of management by the parish council, Registered Social Landlord, village trust or other similar organisation; and,
  6. The housing is provided in perpetuity for qualifying local people.

The provision of affordable housing to meet local needs may also be encouraged by the allocation of an exception site for 100% affordable housing.

This policy also applies in the Growth Area.


Figure 18

EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT IN THE RURAL POLICY AREA

4.61 The job target for the borough is set out in Policy CP10. The locational requirements of employment development will mean that the majority of new jobs and business activity will be focused on the urban  area and thus within the Growth Area rather than the Rural Policy Area. However, it is to be expected that some economic development will occur focused on key service centres and associated with existing employment locations such as those at Wyboston on the edge of the St Neots urban area, Colworth House Sharnbrook and at Thurleigh Airfield and more generally as farms continue to diversify and redundant agricultural buildings are converted for business use. This approach is consistent with PPS7. Development at existing employment sites in the countryside is addressed in saved policies and will be further addressed in a Development Control Policies DPD.

4.62 In addition it is important to retain existing employment and service uses in order to support the sustainability of the Rural Policy Area. Where the loss of existing employment uses are proposed permission will only be granted where justified through the employment land review methodology as explained in  Policy CP11.


POLICY CP18 - SUSTAINING THE LOCAL ECONOMY AND SERVICES

The Council will seek to assist the continued viability of the rural economy and support the sustainability of local services by:

  1. Resisting proposals which would lead to the loss of sites used for industrial/commercial use in accordance with Policy CP11 or other employment generating uses in the countryside or rural settlements; and,
  2. Restricting the change of use of shops, post offices and public houses where it would impact on local services and communities; and,
  3. Supporting the retention of local community facilities.

This policy also applies in the Growth Area.

TOWN CENTRE REGENERATION AND REVITALISATION

4.63 Bedford Town Centre is the heart of our community and should provide a range of quality shopping and entertainment for residents and visitors and a positive focus for public transport. However, the town centre needs to be far more than this - it is a place where people should live, work and have fun - for most people, the town centre defines what Bedford is.


Figure 19

4.64 The town centre is a very accessible location, particularly by public transport, making it a sustainable location for development and especially those forms of development that attract a lot of people to them. Government guidance on town centres is set out in PPS6 Planning for Town Centres, which lists the main town centre uses as being:

  • retail (shops and restaurants)
  • leisure and entertainment (including intensive sport and recreation uses such as cinemas, night-clubs, health and fitness centres and bingo halls)
  • offices
  • arts, culture and tourism (theatres, museums, galleries and concert halls, hotels and conference facilities).

4.65 Much has been done in recent years to improve the town centre - improvements to Harpur Street/Lime Street, Castle Mound refurbishment, the establishment of the Bedford Town Centre Co Ltd, the first ever Business Improvement District, improved car parks etc. However, compared to other centres it has lagged behind and has not been able to attract significant inward investment. In a commercial sense Bedford has stood still for perhaps as many as fifty years.

4.66 With government and regional policy focusing on Bedford’s role within the Growth Area there is a compelling need for a major step change in the delivery of an attractive, lively and commercially successful town centre which will take the borough into the twenty-first century.

Figure 20Figure 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AREA ACTION PLAN

4.67 In order to provide a proper footing for the renaissance of the town centre, the Council has embarked on the preparation of the Bedford Town Centre Area Action Plan, which with the Core Strategy & Rural Issues Plan will form part of the formal statutory framework for the planning of the borough.

4.68 PPS6 states that certain uses should be located as a preference within the town centre or, if there are no available sites, on the edge of the town centre before out of centre sites are considered. In the case of Policy CP19 the term ‘town centre’ in the second paragraph refers to the town centre boundary as defined on the Bedford Town Centre Area Action Plan Proposals Map.

4.69 Over the next few years the town centre has the opportunity to realise its potential and the area action plan aims to meet this challenge and regenerate the town centre. It contains the following objectives:

A MORE COMMERCIALLY ACTIVE AND COMPETITIVE RETAIL CENTRE AND A MORE STRUCTURED AND DISTINCTIVE CENTRE

To provide a framework for the regeneration of the town centre.

To sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of the town centre as a whole whilst promoting reinvestment in the existing retail centre including the High Street.

To create a more diverse and vital mix of uses including a major increase in the town’s retail offer.

To achieve the successful integration of new development with the existing town centre.

To strengthen the economy of the town centre and its role as an employment, administrative and educational centre.

A BETTER CONNECTED CENTRE

To improve access to the town centre through the provision of new public transport interchanges, new highway infrastructure, public transport priority when feasible, the use of park and ride facilities and improved facilities for pedestrians, cyclists, taxis and private hire vehicles. Where and when highway capacity can be increased, priority should be given to modes other than private cars.

To improve the number and quality of the connections within the town centre, and between the centre and the river and railway station.

A MORE ATTRACTIVE AND LIVEABLE CENTRE

To protect, promote and enhance Bedford’s natural and built heritage, cultural attractions and role as a tourist destination as an integral part of the strategy to regenerate the town centre.

To achieve high quality urban design with high quality materials and finishes.

A WELL MANAGED TOWN CENTRE

To create a town centre which is safe, attractive and in which people will want to live, shop, work and spend their leisure time.

To achieve high quality public realm improvements including provision for management and maintenance.

To ensure that new development and other partner agencies contribute to the delivery of the council’s strategy for the town centre as a whole, including the provision of infrastructure.

The approach being taken by the council as set out in the Bedford Town Centre Area Action Plan is an essential part of the council’s strategy for the borough.


POLICY CP19 - BEDFORD TOWN CENTRE

The regeneration of the town centre will involve significant structural change, infrastructure improvements and mixed use developments that together will ensure the creation of a bustling, prosperous and safe town centre which is a more efficient, vibrant and attractive focus for the borough and its hinterland.

The town centre is the preferred location for new retail development and other forms of development that attract a lot of people, such as leisure and entertainment, offices, arts, culture and tourism.

RETAIL ISSUES


4.70 The town centre ’s ability to provide a strong retail focus in the borough is crucial to the strategy set out in the area action plan and must be secured in relation to the nature and scale of retail development occurring elsewhere.

4.71 The draft East of England Plan sets out a regional structure of retail centres, with major regional centres as the highest order centres and regional centres at the next level down. Bedford is defined as a regional  centre. Local Development Documents are expected to define the hierarchy of centres below this level that complete the structure of retail provision in their area.

4.72 In order to gain a clear and up to date assessment of retailing in the borough, the council commissioned a study by GVA Grimley in 2005. This showed the following.

  • 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 further, with major new retail schemes planned which will strengthen their role.
  • 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.
  • Bedford remains a vital and viable centre and has benefited from significant environmental improvements.
  • 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 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. The Town Centre Area Action Plan makes provision for 31,200 sq. m. of new retail floorspace on three key sites. The Council has not allocated land in the Town Centre Area Action Plan  to meet all of the capacity identified in the 2005 Retail Study. Historically, Bedford has not attracted significant retail investment and, in light of this, it is not realistic to allocate land in the Town Centre Area Action Plan to meet all of the capacity identified. Therefore, the Council’s strategy is to focus efforts on the delivery of these three key sites in the period up to 2011. After 2011, following retail development in the town centre, the Retail Study will be updated to review the amount of additional floorspace required to 2021. This will inform the timing of a review of the Town Centre Area Action Plan.

4.73 The Retail Study of 2005 confirms that Bedford town centre should remain the main focus of retailing in the borough. In order to maintain and enhance its role, it is important that the primary shopping area of the town centre continues to be the preferred location for new large scale development. The Primary Shopping Area is defined in the Town Centre Area Action Plan. If monitoring indicates that the identified retail floorspace of the three key sites allocated in the Town Centre Area Action Plan is not likely to be delivered, this will trigger an updated retail capacity study to consider the reasons for this, to review the amount of additional floorspace likely to be needed and to consider the scope for expansion of the Primary Shopping Area. This would take place within the context of a review of the Town Centre Area Action Plan. To do so earlier would compromise the present strategy of delivering the three key sites which are vital to the successful regeneration of Bedford town centre.

4.744 Below this level, the research identifies Kempston as performing the role of a district centre. Below the district centre, the council has identified key service centres as local centres (small groups of shops). Generally, new retail development needs to be of a scale appropriate for the centre to promote internal competition and linked trips and to ensure consistency with transport networks. The hierarchy is stated in Policy CP20.

4.75 Wixams new settlement is a planned comprehensive development of 4,500 houses located in Bedford Borough and Mid Bedfordshire. The adopted development brief recognises that the settlement has the potential to extend into additional areas of land beyond the settlement core. This settlement is expected to include shopping and other community facilities and thus once this development has taken place, Wixams  will become an important retail centre. Wixams will therefore become a key part of the retail hierarchy for the borough, and its status in the policy hierarchy will need to be reviewed as the settlement grows.


POLICY CP20 - RETAIL HIERARCHY

The retail hierarchy is as follows :

  1. Bedford town centre (regional centre)
  2. Kempston (district centre)
  3. Growth Area key service centres and other Growth Area local centres (local centres)
  4. Rural key service centres (local centres)
  5. Other defined retail centres.

The preferred location for large-scale new retail development (in excess of 1,000 square metres
net floorspace) will be the Primary Shopping Area of Bedford town centre. New retail development in the centres defined in i) to v) above should be consistent in scale with the size and character of the centre and its role in the hierarchy.

Figure 22Figure 23

 

 

 

DISTINCTIVENESS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ASSETS

Figure 24

SENSE OF PLACE

4.76 The council’s ambition is to generate a positive and, as far as possible, a distinctive sense of place. A sense of place will differentiate the borough from other areas in terms of character and design quality, creating a strong identity that will influence investment and where people will want to live, work and spend their leisure time.

4.77 Creating a sense of place will involve accentuating the borough’s best features, ensuring that design standards of development are consistently high, conserving the built, natural and cultural heritage and linking this with the image-building activities of the borough council and Renaissance Bedford.

4.78 The character of the borough is not such that a single sense of place can be defined or created in terms of the built environment. The urban areas, town centre, and discrete parts of the rural area will be encouraged  to establish their own personality with reference to the noteworthy. The scale and form of buildings and spaces, building details, materials, boundary treatments, landscape, access and parking are all elements which contribute to distinctive development. It is important therefore that a starting point for new development should be a thorough understanding of the context within which it will sit.

4.79 In certain locations, the immediate setting may give few clues from which to draw inspiration, yet reinforcing an unsatisfactory form of development is not acceptable. In such cases it may be appropriate to look further afield for inspiration.

DESIGNING IN QUALITY

4.80 Design quality is also a key factor in creating sustainable development. The council is committed to achieving good design in all new development and has published a number of development briefs, design guides and design codes for the major development sites in the borough. These contain urban design principles with which new development is expected to comply. Design codes have been used to ensure that new development draws from local character to create places which are locally distinctive. Innovation in design is encouraged.

4.81 If new development is to be sustainable, greater emphasis needs to be given to its integration with
non-car modes of transport whilst ensuring that buildings and spaces are accessible by all members of the community. Good design also has a role to play in planning out crime and enhancing community safety and the council has prepared a design guide to assist that process (the Bedfordshire Community Safety Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document).

4.82 In considering the impact of development on the environment, pollution, air quality, noise, water, light and land contamination will all need to be taken into account and mitigation measures applied where appropriate. Policy CP26 deals in greater detail with issues of climate change and pollution.


POLICY CP21 - DESIGNING IN QUALITY

All new development should:

  1. be of the highest design quality in terms of both architecture and landscape; and,
  2. have regard to good practice in urban design; and,
  3. fully consider the context within which it will sit and the opportunities to enhance the character and quality of an area and local distinctiveness; and,
  4. preserve and, where appropriate, enhance conservation areas, scheduled ancient monuments and other important archaeological remains, and listed buildings and their settings; and,
  5. be fully accessible by all members of the community; and,
  6. incorporate measures to promote crime prevention and community safety; and,
  7. address sustainable design principles including renewable energy resources, energy efficiency, recycling, and sustainable construction practices and
    • mitigate against the effects of any pollution including air quality, noise, water, light and land contamination;
    • improve the character and quality of the area.

GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE


4.83 Green infrastructure includes recreation and sports facilities, pathways and routes, natural and historic sites, canals and waterspaces, accessible countryside and other open areas that contribute to the character of towns and villages. It is required to enhance the quality of life for present and future residents and visitors and to deliver ‘liveability’ for sustainable communities.

4.84 Spatially, green infrastructure is important in creating and connecting quality environments both in and beyond the urban area and to provide leisure opportunities for borough residents and visitors.

4.85 The Green Infrastructure Consortium is a multi-disciplinary group of professionals working in partnership at the county level to assist the development of green infrastructure policy.

4.86 In 2006 the consortium commissioned consultants to draw together existing green infrastructure information and produce a strategic green infrastructure plan at the county scale. As a desk exercise, the purpose of the countywide Green Infrastructure Plan is to identify strategic assets and opportunities and inform more detailed green infrastructure planning at the district and borough levels.

4.87 Bedford Borough Council has embraced the need for a more detailed understanding of local need for greenspace by appointing consultants to undertake a PPG17/greenspace study (2005). The primary purpose is twofold:

  • to develop local standards for open space provision for inclusion in the Bedford Development Framework; and
  • to inform a local Greenspace Strategy that will guide the location and nature of new provision as well as guide investment in and management of existing assets.

4.88 In time the opportunity exists to broaden this study to take in additional elements of green infrastructure at the more local level.

4.89 The Borough Council supports in principle the Bedford to Milton Keynes canal project along a route that would bring waterway traffic through the town. As well as linking Bedford to the regional waterway network, the canal would represent an additional focus for green infrastructure through the heart of Bedford, Kempston and the northern Marston Vale. A concept route is shown on the Key Diagram, which takes account of the provision made for the canal route in the approved masterplan for the Wootton strategic development.


POLICY CP 22 – GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE

Existing green infrastructure of both local and strategic importance will be protected from development.

Where appropriate, development will provide green infrastructure in accordance with adopted local standards. Where provision on site is not possible or preferred, a contribution towards off-site provision or where appropriate, enhancement will be required.

Both on site and off site provision/enhancement will be made with regard to the priorities identified in the council’s Greenspace Strategy.

As a contribution to the greenspace network, tourism and the vitality of the town centre, the creation of the Bedford to Milton Keynes canal will be supported.

Where necessary and appropriate the council will seek the use of planning obligations to secure a contribution towards the cost of future management and maintenance of green infrastructure.


Figure 25

CULTURAL HERITAGE

4.90 In addition to ensuring new development of the highest quality, it is also important that the borough’s heritage is protected for its own sake. This includes ancient monuments, listed buildings, historic parks and gardens and conservation areas (and the county Historic Landscape Characterisation database may be of assistance) but also extends to the consideration of other aspects of cultural heritage.

4.91 The borough has a diverse cultural heritage which in turn makes the borough the place it is. The area has a rich prehistoric, roman and medieval heritage which includes nationally important sites of all these periods. Bedford itself is a historic town which grew originally around one of the few crossing points on the River Great Ouse and expanded considerably with the industrial revolution and the coming of the railway. Much of that industrial heritage has disappeared as the town has moved away from heavy industry and manufacturing to service and high-tech industries. Individual communities such as Stewartby (brickmaking), Shortstown (airships), Harrold and Odell (leather working) have strong associations with the borough’s industrial past.

4.92 In addition to its heritage, a significant part of what makes the borough distinctive is the diversity of its population. This to a large extent reflects the industrial heritage, with people moving to the area to work in local industry throughout the last century. Today there are large Italian, Polish, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Irish and black Caribbean populations in addition to those that have been here longer. This is reflected in Bedford’s shopping, places of worship, community facilities, clubs and cultural events.


POLICY CP23 – HERITAGE

Development will be required to protect and where appropriate enhance:

  1. the character of conservation areas, scheduled ancient monuments, historic parks and gardens, listed buildings and other important historic or archaeological features; and,
  2. the borough’s cultural assets, including its landscape, in order to underpin sense of place, cultural identity and promote quality of life.

LANDSCAPE

4.93 The borough has a varied landscape character. The clay vale, Greensand Ridge and Ouse valley all contribute to giving the borough its sense of place. For example, the underlying limestone geology of the Ouse valley gives rise to the distinct character of the stone villages in the north west of the borough. Landscape Character Assessment is a tool which can be used to understand the important features that make a landscape distinctive. A borough wide landscape character assessment had been prepared. The assessment identifies the features that typify each character area and sub-area in the borough and will be a key  influence on the design and location of new development.

4.94 Landscape enhancement is an important issue in the rural area of the borough where there are smaller villages and the impact of development could have a detrimental impact on the landscape if not appropriately controlled. It is therefore important to consider the impact of development on the landscape at both the macro and micro scale by considering views, the need for screening and the impact on existing landscape features.

4.95 The clay vale to the south has in recent times been impacted by the dual activities of mineral extraction and landfill and is now the subject of a major enhancement initiative through its designation as the Forest of Marston Vale. Continued landscape and environmental restoration of the Marston Vale is advocated to improve the area characterised by brick making and mineral extraction. As this area is within the Growth Area, development has the potential to contribute significantly to the enhancement of landscape character. It is expected that detailed policies will be brought forward in other development plan documents to define the area within which development contributions will be sought.


POLICY CP24 - LANDSCAPE PROTECTION AND ENHANCEMENT

The landscape and character of the borough will be conserved and where appropriate enhanced.

The Marston Vale will be the focus for landscape enhancement and restoration and the council will continue to support the Forest of Marston Vale.

New development should protect and where appropriate enhance the quality and character of the landscape. The nature and scale of development should be appropriate within the wider landscape.

Management measures will be required where new development or activities are proposed in the rural area.

BIODIVERSITY


4.96 In the last century there has been a dramatic increase in development and a resultant loss of biodiversity. Conservation and enhancement of biodiversity has come to be seen as an essential element of sustainable development. The Bedfordshire and Luton Biodiversity Action Plan and Biodiversity Characterisation provide guidance for securing the future sustainability of the borough’s biodiversity resource. It is important to  protect designated sites (both biodiversity and earth heritage sites) and where possible reduce the damage to and enhance biodiversity and earth heritage resources.

4.97 The sub-region’s important environmental and cultural assets, some of which are of national or regional significance, need not only to be protected but also, where appropriate, enhanced and connected in a network of natural areas. This is addressed by Policy CP22.


POLICY CP25 - BIODIVERSITY

The biodiversity and geodiversity of the borough and in particular priority habitats, species and geodiversity features, will be protected and where appropriate enhanced.

Where harm to biodiversity and/or geodiversity is likely to be a result of development, appropriate mitigation and/or compensation will be required. Any replacement assets should be of a comparable or enhanced value.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND POLLUTION


4.98 Controlling potentially polluting developments and the location of sensitive developments in proximity to existing sources of pollution are material planning considerations.

4.99 As a result of the monitoring of air quality, raised levels of nitrogen dioxide have been recorded in parts of the town centre and on the A421 at Great Barford associated with heavy traffic flows in these areas. This led the council to declare three Air Quality Management Areas. Emissions of sulphur dioxide from the   brickworks at Stewartby have resulted in the council (with Mid Bedfordshire District Council) declaring an Air Quality Management Area in the Marston Vale.

4.100 More globally, there is a need to plan for climate change and to ensure that the buildings and spaces we design today will still function satisfactorily in the future and will neither be affected by, nor exacerbate flooding. In addition, an integral part of sustainable development is the reduction in carbon emissions, which can be achieved by measures to save energy and by incorporating renewable energy. Recycling and the use    of sustainable practices in the construction of new buildings are also important in contributing to sustainability. Following a sustainable construction code such as that produced by the Building Research Establishment (BREEAM and EcoHomes) can help demonstrate the sustainability of development.

4.101 The draft East of England Plan provides clear guidance and support for the use of policy to ensure that the effects of climate change are minimised. The plan also includes targets for renewable energy production and the management of waste.

4.102 Further detailed guidance on the following policy will be included in a supplementary planning document. This will explain how the predicted carbon emissions of a proposed building and the effect of energy efficiency measures can be calculated. It may be appropriate to relax these requirements if it can be demonstrated that they would make development unviable or be contrary to other objectives of the plan.

4.103 Policy CP26 iv) below sets out requirements which are, in part, derived from Policy ENG1 of the emerging East of England Plan. These requirements will be employed flexibly to guide the development until the viability of more locally-specific policies can be assessed. This will be pursued as a matter of urgency in more detailed Development Plan Documents.


POLICY CP26 - CLIMATE CHANGE AND POLLUTION

The council will require development to:

  1. Minimise the emission of pollutants into the wider environment; and,
  2. Have regard to cumulative impacts of development proposals on air quality, in particular in relation to air quality management areas; and,
  3. Minimise the consumption and use of energy, including fossil fuels by design and choice of materials; and,
  4. Unless it can be demonstrated that – having regard to the type of development involved and  its design - these requirements are not feasible or viable, achieve a minimum 10% reduction in carbon emissions (below the normal requirement set by the Building Regulations) in all new residential developments and above a threshold of 500m2  in new non-residential developments by measures which shall include, in new developments above a threshold of 1000m2  or 50 dwellings, the supply of at least 10% of the energy consumed in the new development to be provided from decentralised and renewable or low-carbon energy sources.
  5. As a minimum, meet the national standards for building performance set by the current Building Regulations. Through the Allocations and Designations DPD process the Council may identify local development or site specific opportunities which justify the adoption and application of higher standards of building performance as set out in the Code for Sustainable Homes. Such higher standards may also be required by the Council where justified by changes in national guidance.
  6. Utilise sustainable construction techniques; and,
  7. Incorporate facilities to minimise the use of water and waste; and,
  8. Limit any adverse effects on water quality, reduce water consumption and minimise the risk of flooding.

Developers will be expected to submit a sustainability statement and energy audit with proposals for development.

Figure 26

DELIVERY AND IMPLEMENTATION

INFRASTRUCTURE

4.104 Aspirations to increase the scale and pace of housing and employment development and achieve sustainable growth cannot be fully realised without a range of supporting infrastructure. Infrastructure can include transport links such as roads, rail links and footpaths, green infrastructure such as sports facilities and open spaces, and community infrastructure such as library services, places of worship or village halls.

4.105 Alongside contributions achieved through development, public investment from national government is critical to the delivery of infrastructure. Government must fulfil its role in the delivery of infrastructure if growth at the required rate is to be achieved.

TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

4.106 The borough council has no direct responsibilities for the condition or provision of transport and the role of this plan is to support the plans, policies and programmes of other agencies.

4.107 Strategic transport infrastructure is critical to the implementation of the growth proposals in the borough. Bedford has suffered poor connectivity to the strategic network, congestion and reliance upon the car.   This longstanding infrastructure deficit hampers accessibility, safety and convenience. It also suppresses investment to the disbenefit of the local economy and frustrates public transport improvements.
The early implementation of strategic infrastructure projects is therefore critical to the growth agenda.

4.108 Bedfordshire County Council promotes more local schemes through the Local Transport Plan. The plan   (LTP2) sets out the strategy and programme which seek to prepare for growth, support the economy, manage transport assets, manage congestion, enhance access, make travel safer and improve air quality. It recognises the important role of walking, cycling and public transport. The transport schemes in Policies CP27 and CP28 are all included in the LTP 2006/07 – 10/11, see Appendix F Table 1 for further details.


POLICY CP27 - STRATEGIC TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

The borough council will support the early provision of the following strategic infrastructure proposals:

  • Great Barford Bypass (under construction)
  • A421 improvements west of Bedford including M1 junction 13
  • Thameslink 2000
  • East-West rail scheme (Oxford to Bedford)
  • National Cycle Network routes

POLICY CP28 – LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN

The borough council supports the objectives, strategy and programme set out in the Local Transport Plan (LTP2), and expects that the following projects will be incorporated in the programme and implemented at the earliest opportunity:

  • Bedford Western Bypass
  • Park and Ride sites and services
  • Bedford town centre improvements, including river bridge.

The Council will also support the following developer led initiatives:

  • A6 realignment in association with Wixams development
  • Wixams railway station
  • The re-provision of Bedford railway station

POLICY CP29 - ACCESSIBILITY

To encourage sustainable modes of transport and reduce reliance on the car, development will be located and designed to include facilities which provide convenient access to local services by foot, cycle and public transport.

COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE

4.109 The Local Plan 2002 provides that the major strategic development sites deliver an appropriate range of new or enhanced infrastructure to enable residents to have suitable access to services, facilities and utilities. These requirements are or will be secured through a combination of planning conditions and statutory legal agreements. Other developments arising during the plan period, for example in the town centre, will also need to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to address community needs.

4.110 The need to provide community infrastructure may arise when development proposals either individually or cumulatively create a need for additional or improved provision. Developers will be expected to address the impacts of their proposals either through the provision of facilities on site as part of the new development or improve facilities in the surrounding area. Requirements will be related in scale and kind to the development  proposed.

4.111 Where the combined impact of a number of developments creates the need for new or improved infrastructure the council will consider pooling contributions to allow the infrastructure to be secured in a fair and equitable way.

4.112 Those matters which may give rise to the need for contributions may include but are not limited to:

  • Roads, foot and cycleways, public transport facilities and services.
  • Community facilities (meeting halls, library services and places of worship)
  • Schools/education
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Green infrastructure
  • Affordable housing
  • Drainage facilities
  • Play provision
  • Public art
  • Sport and recreation provision
  • Public access and rights of way
  • Renewable energy initiatives
  • The historic environment
  • CCTV
  • Public realm
  •  Crime and disorder initiatives

Figure 27

POLICY CP30 – DEVELOPER CONTRIBUTIONS

Where implementation of a development would individually or cumulatively create a need to provide additional or improved infrastructure, amenities or facilities, or would exacerbate an existing deficiency in their provision, the developer will be expected to make or contribute towards such provision by means of planning condition or legal obligation.

PLAN, MONITOR AND MANAGE

4.113 The identification of part of the borough as a Growth Area brings with it a requirement to achieve a step change in the pace of development. The council is already taking active steps to achieve this as far as it is able by allocating and granting planning permission for sites identified in the Local Plan 2002. These sites must now be given the opportunity to play their part in delivering the growth and infrastructure required in the borough. The effort required to deliver this step change however, extends beyond the responsibilities   and resources of the borough council, for example, in relation to the provision of strategic infrastructure and the effect that the condition of the national economy has on the level of investment activity and the local housing market. In addition landowners and developers must be proactive in bringing forward land and implementing proposals. In this context, and to help accelerate the pace of development, the government has provided additional resources through the Growth Area Fund and supported the setting up of a Local Delivery Vehicle ‘Renaissance Bedford’. The council welcomes this assistance and is working with   Renaissance Bedford to speed delivery of houses and jobs.

4.114 The draft East of England Plan recognises that development in the region will be dependent upon the delivery of essential infrastructure and the maintenance of a satisfactory relationship between housing provision and job growth. In these circumstances it will be particularly important to track the alignment between the delivery of infrastructure, jobs and homes. The council will adopt a plan, monitor and manage approach to  the provision of new development keeping under review progress towards meeting regional targets.

4.115 The plan’s objectives and policies will be monitored through an Annual Monitoring Report which will be submitted each year to the government. The Annual Monitoring Report will assess the success of the plan and show if targets are being met. In particular it will monitor progress against the key indicators and targets which are set out in the plan’s monitoring and implementation framework (see Table 2 of Appendix F). Appendix F also sets out how the policies will be implemented (Table1). If monitoring indicates that targets are not being met, consideration will be given to amending the Local Development Scheme and reviewing Local Development Documents as appropriate.


POLICY CP31 – PLAN MONITOR AND MANAGE

The council will adopt a plan, monitor and manage approach to the provision of new development. In particular this will include:

  • Giving priority to the delivery of existing commitments (as allocated in the Local Plan 2002) and the proposals coming forward in the Bedford Town Centre Area Action Plan and where necessary making further allocations in line with the sequential test outlined in Policy CP5.
  • Monitoring the progress against the requirements of the East of England Plan and the Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy.
  • Monitoring the provision of strategic infrastructure and the growth of the local economy and the impact this has on the strength of the local housing market.
  • Undertaking an annual monitoring exercise to indicate the priority to be given to the review/preparation of local development documents.

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