Emerging Local Plan “Not Sound”

Bedford Borough Council has admitted that its emerging Local Plan is not “sound” and should not be submitted for examination because its proposals for Colworth Garden Village are not deliverable.

It is back to the drawing board and the report to the Executive of the Borough Council, on 16 May 2018, confirmed that other options for meeting the required number of dwellings now need to be considered, including the possibility of changing the timescale covered by the plan to reduce the number of dwellings that need to be allocated. The draft plan will, therefore, need to be amended and a further period of consultation held before the process can move forward.

The Borough Council’s latest consultation on the draft Local Plan, setting out preferred sites for the development of around 8,000 new homes to the year 2035, including Colworth Garden Village, ended on 29 March 2018. There were around 3,200 representations received from 1,800 respondents; these representations are available to view on the Borough Council’s web site Colworth Garden Village was a key allocation in the published plan; it had been proposed that the new settlement in this location would deliver 4,500 dwellings (2,500 before 2035) and new high quality employment land along with a parkway rail station and community facilities. It was intended that the new station would serve the local existing and new community, the extended Colworth Business Park as well as intercept traffic on the A6 heading for Bedford Midland Station. The development scheme, however, relied on joint working between Wrenbridge (the site promoter) and the operator of Santa Pod Raceway to resolve concerns about noise. Despite some discussions no agreement could be reached about noise mitigation works on the Santa Pod site and, without these, a satisfactory noise environment is unlikely to be achievable. The operator of Santa Pod Raceway has objected to the emerging Local Plan on that basis and there is no sign that an agreement will be forthcoming in the foreseeable future.

Bedford Borough Council now has another chance to GET IT RIGHT!

Time to Focus Growth Strategically

It is now recognised that the significant capacity issues on the A6 really does discount major growth in North Bedfordshire, thus protecting existing villages from harmful growth and safeguarding for future generations the picturesque North Bedfordshire Great Ouse Valley with its meandering tree-lined river, historic villages and abundant wildlife.

There is no doubt that the alternative A421 corridor is strategically the future location for well planned growth. This is consistent with the emerging nationally inspired growth aspirations for the “Oxford to Cambridge” expressway, the planned “Black Cat” roundabout investment and the dualling of the highway to Caxton Gibbet to facilitate a strategic growth corridor. It is also consistent with the positive aspiration in the recently adopted Bedford Borough Growth Plan to transform the local economy and to provide truly sustainable and accessible growth in a sound strategic location, capturing business investment and creating new skilled jobs in east Bedford, with excellent national and international transport links and access to a skilled, entrepreneurial workforce.

The inevitable future investment that will occur only emphasises the prospects and potential of future strategic growth in this key location.
The “Keep North Beds Green” campaign welcomes the further review and the intended further consultation on changes to the emerging Local Plan and, moreover, the opportunity it provides to further emphasise the prospects and benefits of placing growth on the A421 corridor, including Wyboston and land South of Bedford.

Next Steps

The impact of the housing growth requirements in England’s Economic Heartland and the extrapolations of growth in future Local Plan periods will have significant consequences for future growth in Bedford Borough. This will require sound and careful future planning, with good prospects for new garden communities in the right location in the A421 growth corridor.

The revised Local Development Scheme, that sets the timescale for the Local Plan process, identifies that a further report will be submitted to the Borough Council Executive in September 2018. The Borough Council has admitted that there is a need for additional work on the evidence base, following difficulties with the delivery of Colworth Garden Village, to enable an amended “Plan for Submission” to be subject to further consultation. It is expected that the further period of consultation will take place in Autumn 2018 withapproval of the preferred sites for development at the Executive/Full Council in December 2018.

Bedford Borough Council now has another chance to GET IT RIGHT!

Take the opportunity to plan future growth in the most accessible and sustainable location; recognise that it is the strategic A421 “Oxford to Cambridge” corridor that is the focus for infrastructure investment and the best location for future growth to meet housing need.

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