The Mayor’s Plan
The Mayor and his Executive Committee comprised of Liberal Democrat and Labour Councillors have agreed a final draft of the Local Plan 2035 and it has now been issued for consultation.
The deadline for the consultation is March 29, 2018 and is the last opportunity for local residents to raise concerns. Once the Mayor’s officers have considered the comments, the Plan will then be submitted to the government’s Planning Inspectorate and there will be an Examination in Public which will decide whether the Plan can be formally “adopted” or not. Once the Plan has been adopted, it sets the direction for all development in the Borough for the next five years at least.
Though you may have already commented on the previous consultation in 2017, these comments will not be taken into account and you need to comment again on the current version of the Plan. Only if you comment now will your comments be seen by the Planning Inspector and you will have the opportunity to meet the Planning Inspector during his Examination in Public.
The Borough, of course, needs to plan for inevitable population growth and there is already a national shortage of housing. The Council needs a clear plan to ensure that the Borough expands to meet community needs and that housing is in the right place. Alas, the Council has simply made an opportunistic selection of sites volunteered for development by, in the main, rural landowners without any strategic planning. As a result too many houses are going to be put in the wrong place:
- Too many housing estates will be on open countryside and good agricultural land rather than brownfield sites
- Too many will be served by inadequate roads and infrastructure
- Too many houses will just be houses for London, Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire commuters
and all too many housing estates and new towns will overwhelm and permanently change the villages in which they are to be inappropriately located.
The 20 page Executive summary pdf is available here : Executive summary (7/1/18 version – source : bedford.gov.uk)
Your comments will only be accepted if they are made in particular format prescribed by the Borough Council. A link to that form is provided here.
Guidance notes for completing the form can be found here
Objectors will need to outline what change they want to the Plan and where the right place would be for the houses. An alternative proposal which alone would meet the majority of the 2035 additional housing need is for land to the south of Bedford, alongside the A421 which :
- Is substantially on brownfield land rather than open countryside
- Is directly linked with the by-pass, and the planned East/West road and rail links
- Is directly linked to employment land
and it will provide the basis for Bedford town to grow and develop as part of the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) proposed Oxford/Cambridge Arc. The Mayor signed up to a September 2016 NIC document which recommends development of 1 million homes along the Oxford/Cambridge Arc with an increase in population of 1.6 million people. Bedford Borough will have to take its share of these. See this document at the following link, with the Mayor’s signature appearing on page 3: