Central Bedfordshire Council has held a number of consultation workshops and meetings with stakeholders recently on its new Local Plan for the area and the next stage ahead.
The ‘Call for Sites’ consultation in April 2016 resulted in the Council receiving a total of 830 sites for potential development. Work is now underway to update and prepare all the technical documents in order to produce an overall strategy for planning in Central Bedfordshire up to 2035. The Council will produce a shortlist of suitable sites for further consultation.
As always, housing need and land supply is the key issue. The Council have identified that between 28,000-32,000 new homes will be needed in the Central Bedfordshire area in 2015-2035. This would mean an increased population of around 45,000 people over 20 years.
As a result it is likely that the Council will need to look for one or more new settlements in the area. The Council is also conducting a Green Belt review which may well lead to deallocating parts of the Green Belt in the south in order to meet the housing need.
There is a ‘duty to cooperate’ with adjoining Councils in the delivery of housing. Central Bedfordshire is also affected by four housing market areas, namely Luton, Stevenage, Milton Keynes and Bedford. Managing the demand arising from adjacent local authorities’ housing needs will be the most challenging issue for the Council. Also the Council are going out to town and parish councils as ‘community groups’ which will formulate ‘Community Plans’. Not to be confused with Neighbourhood Plans, Community Plans are designed to draw up key aims and objectives for smaller settlements that will feed into the Local Plan.
One of the key issues for the Council is the increasingly ageing population. It is estimated that there will be a 30% increase in over 75s and a 40% increase in over 85s over the course of the emerging Local Plan period. Central Bedfordshire is keen to include provision for this growing sector in new residential supply and it is anticipated that future schemes will need to provide open market extra care housing.
Part of the technical work relates to transport infrastructure for rail, road and cycling. The new Local Transport Plan will be prepared alongside the new Local Plan. The Council’s view is that growth and transport are inexplicably linked. East West Rail is high up the agenda for Central Bedfordshire, and a proposed route has been identified for the Milton Keynes to Cambridge connection. Other transport projects include the new M1 Junction 11a and the link to the A5 which is currently underway and the potential for a link from Junction 11a to the A6; the link to Woodside in Houghton Regis; and addressing the problems of the A1 corridor.
It is anticipated that a draft Plan with broad locations and potential levels of growth across the Council area will be published in December 2016. The ambitious timetable also expects the final version of the Plan to be submitted in December 2017.
Robinson & Hall continue to monitor the progress of technical work and attend stakeholder events, and provide our clients with updates as necessary. If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Local Plan process please call any member of our Planning and Development team below.Back to articles