Greyfriars Development Brief SPD
Purpose of the statement
The preparation of this document conforms with Regulation 12 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012. It sets out the details of whom the Council consulted in preparation of the draft Greyfriars, Bedford Development Brief (SPD).
Public and stakeholder engagement
The SPD has been prepared to support the delivery of the Greyfriars site, which is identified within the draft Local Plan 2040 under housing allocation HOU1. The development brief has been developed by a consultant team, on behalf of Bedford Borough Council (BBC), in partnership with bpha and Homes England.
The process has been developed around key engagement sessions, where the input from local residents, stakeholders, and the wider public has been sought. This engagement has ensured that a wide range of voices have informed the design process, and resulting site layout and illustrative masterplan.
Public engagement was held as "drop-in" events in various locations, to encourage as many participants as possible. This ranged from the existing site, to the Howard Shopping Centre. Two rounds of engagement were undertaken: the first focussed on analysis of the site; and the second introduced emerging design principles.
The first engagement session focussed on gaining a comprehensive understanding of how the site is currently used. Both existing residents, visitors, and the wider public were invited to give their viewpoints. Residents were formally invited to join the drop-in sessions via letter; and the events were also advertised via posters, and the bpha and Council website. The first and second sessions were undertaken in-person at the base of Beckett Court on Tuesday 21 June 2022 5-9pm, and Saturday 25 June 2022 9am-1pm. We encouraged participants to provide their thoughts on the day, but we also made surveys available to take home and return via post, and an online version of the survey which was hosted on the bpha and Council website (with downloadable versions of the boards). A phone number and email address was made available if people had any further queries or comments. The online survey was kept open for two weeks after the last in-person event. Both days were well attended (Saturday morning had more responses), and a summary of the viewpoints are recorded adjacent.
The next session was held on Wednesday 29 June 2022 10am-3pm in the Howard Centre, where the wider community was invited to give their viewpoints on the site and surrounding area. Responses were recorded on the day, and the same online survey was also made available. This event was held in tandem with Bedford Borough Council's event on the draft 2040 Local Plan, and the location meant that residents, visitors, and local business owners were all able to give their opinions.
Six months later, having reviewed and consolidated the first round of comments, emerging principles were then discussed with residents. The second round of engagement was undertaken in January 2023, and held at the Bedford Priory Bowls Club (adjacent to the site). Two sessions were held: on 11 January 4-6:30pm; and 14 January 10am-12:30pm. These events were advertised via flyers, and posters in the local area.
The engagement and findings have been instrumental in the production of the SPD.
Key outcomes from the first sessions (June 2022) included:
- Existing open space is poorly designed, and there are poor boundary treatments at ground floor. Public/private space should be better defined;
- Antisocial behaviour at the base of the residential blocks is an issue;
- Increased and improved facilities for play for children and teenagers are desirable;
- Internal amenity issues: noise insulation between apartments is poor; individual heaters are expensive to run;
- Congestion and pollution on Greyfriars road are an issue;
- The existing mature trees are really valued;
- New green spaces, planting and accessible play areas would be welcome;
- A mixture of houses and flats, a mixture of tenures, and appropriate disabled access are desired; and
- Individual private amenity space (balconies) are really valued by existing residents.
- Conversations with visitors passing through the site confirmed that the site provides an important short cut towards the town centre.
Key outcomes from the second engagement sessions (January 2023):
- Eastern side of site (on junction of Greyfriars and entrance to town centre) is a more popular location for potential tall buildings;
- Strong support for ensuring the environmental sustainability of new homes, with the orientation of flats, solar panels, good insulation, green roofs, and SuDS all seen as very important;
- Maintenance and management of new green spaces essential;
- Communal resident courtyards were popular ideas, as well as community gardens;
- Mixed response on buildings higher than 11 the need for appropriately maintained lifts;
- Support for more pedestrianised areas, secure cycle parking, and new cycle lanes;
- The existing mature trees should be retained and celebrated
- Planting on the streets, blue badge parking spaces, and safe crossing points on Greyfriars road and Hassett Street;
- Community gardens and allotments were mentioned several times; and
- Generally positive response to the idea of resident parking in the Allhallows multistorey car park (though some concern about developing on the surface car park as this is a popular place to park), although this would need to come with safety improvements, better lighting, and increased electric vehicle charging points
BBC have also consulted internally with various departments, including Development Management, Transport Officers, Highways Development Control, Environment Officers, Economic Growth and Development Officers, Urban Design Officers, and Energy and Water Technical Officers. Each officer raised comments which have been responded to in this draft.
The Council's Statement of Community Involvement (2019) makes clear that, to reduce expenditure, as much consultation as possible is carried out electronically. The Council's website will therefore be the primary means of providing information about the SPD and a dedicated webpage will be set up to provide information about the SPD and how people may comment upon the document. Alongside this, we will publicise the document on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. All contacts on the Council's planning policy consultation database will be contacted.
The neighbouring Local Authorities will be advised by email which comprise: Central Bedfordshire Council, Milton Keynes Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, East Northamptonshire Council and Borough Council of Wellingborough
While not a requirement of policy or legislation, it is also common for the Council to run an exhibition or workshop to enable people to discuss the consultation document with officers.
The following documents will be available to view on the Council's website accessed from the Planning Policy pages:
- Draft Greyfriars, Bedford Development Brief SPD;
- Pre-consultation Statement; and
- Details of how to respond.
Following conclusion of the consultation, all responses will be collated and any necessary changes considered.