Local Plan 2040 Draft Plan - Strategy options and draft policies consultation

Ended on the 3 September 2021
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2.0 Vision and objectives

(159)2.1 The purpose of the vision is to demonstrate the focus and direction of the local plan. Your comments in the 2020 consultation have helped to shape this updated draft.

By the end of the plan period:

The borough will have become a greener, more sustainable, more attractive and prosperous place to live. Tackling climate change and adapting to and mitigating its effects will be at the heart of new development throughout the borough, including facilitating sustainable food production.

Well-planned growth supported by appropriate infrastructure and avoiding areas of high flood risk will enable the creation of strong, safe and resilient local communities in environments that facilitate healthy and independent living for all. Sustainable development and transport, the use of sustainable and renewable energy technology, green infrastructure and new green spaces will all contribute to reducing the borough's carbon footprint and securing a net-gain in both biodiversity and environmental quality.

The development of East-West Rail through Bedford will be complete. Bedford will benefit from a new town centre railway hub with direct links to Oxford and Cambridge, increasing connectivity, investment and growth. As a requirement of the planning process, local development will be well served by the provision of up-front transport links and speedy internet access. Bedford Borough will continue to attract new business through the completion of significant infrastructure projects in and close to the borough and through the development of high quality commercial and office spaces. Greater connectivity will have a positive impact on the local economy attracting high tech employment sectors, creative industries and supporting existing retail centres.

In Bedford town centre a wide range of uses will provide greater variety and a broader visitor experience that will make the town centre more diverse and sustainable. Improvements to the High Street will make it a more enjoyable place, where local independent retailers thrive and people choose to linger. The development of previously planned vibrant new town neighbourhoods will be complete, widening housing choices in and close to the town centre, and transforming brownfield sites on the western side of the town and south of the river. Additional town centre living will encourage sustainable methods of travel, enhance the vitality and viability of the town centre and support for local businesses. The town centre will be used increasingly as a community space, accessible to residents in the town, the borough and beyond.

Good design will help to improve quality of life and to create safer, vibrant and more sustainable places, both in the urban area of Bedford and Kempston and in the surrounding village communities. More walkable neighbourhoods that can include schools, health facilities, community halls, green spaces and other services will be in place. The borough's built heritage and wider historic environment will continue to be respected, protected and valued.

Development will be sensitively planned to complement the borough's natural environment. The borough's countryside, its intrinsic character and beauty including areas of tranquil retreat will be recognised. Rural communities will embrace appropriate development, in many instances through the preparation of their own neighbourhood plans. This development will reflect each area's unique local character whilst providing and supporting much needed housing and employment, rural facilities and services, including high speed broadband and public transport. Locally important green spaces and valued local landscapes will be protected and enjoyed by all.

The Embankment and formal Victorian parks in Bedford, along with the River Great Ouse valley and its riverside villages, will continue to form the backbone of the borough's rich green and blue infrastructure. There will be new multi-functional green spaces to complement and expand the existing network of paths and green corridors. Country parks north of Brickhill, west of Bedford and in the new town centre neighbourhoods will have matured and along with the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway will encourage healthy lifestyles, tourism and a diverse ecology.

The Forest of Marston Vale will continue to grow and mature, transforming the landscape. Together with the completed Bedford River Valley Park this part of the borough will be transformed through new leisure opportunities, encouraging increased visitor numbers. The development at Stewartby Brickworks will be complete, forming a new community on the old brickmaking site, celebrating its heritage.

(37)2.2 The following themes reflect the vision and again take account of comments made during the 2020 consultation:

Theme 1: Greener – Working towards making Bedford a net zero carbon emissions borough whilst improving, enhancing and creating green infrastructure and spaces


Work towards making Bedford Borough a carbon neutral borough

Deliver high quality growth that integrates closely with the surrounding landscape, facilitating the development of more sustainable and inclusive places for local communities, which are equipped to respond to the impacts of climate and economic change and offer the opportunity to live healthier lifestyles.

Develop a strong and multi-functional urban and rural green infrastructure network through protecting, enhancing, extending and linking landscapes, woodland, biodiversity sites, heritage sites, green spaces and paths.

Improve access to green and blue infrastructure for the enjoyment and health of all.

Protect and enhance our natural resources including air, soil, minerals and water to minimise the impacts of flooding, climate change and pollution.

Move towards a greener town centre with enhanced connections to the river.

Theme 2: More accessible – Encouraging sustainable travel as well as taking the opportunities offered by strategic infrastructure for greater regional and national connectivity


Reduce congestion in the borough, particularly into and around the town centre, including making journeys by public transport, walking and cycling more attractive to encourage an increase in more sustainable and healthy modes of transport.

Improve East-West connectivity and enhance multi-modal travel through the construction of the East West Rail line routed through Bedford Midland station.

Improve "first mile / last mile" local connections to strategic infrastructure, allowing for easier access and greater integration

Theme 3: More prosperous – Supporting new business, educational and employment opportunities


Support a stronger local economy delivering economic growth, broadening employment opportunities and attracting and enabling high value businesses to prosper for the benefit of the borough's existing and future residents.

Create a distinctive, attractive and multi-functional town centre for the future, with a focus on leisure, culture and visitor economy activities, and high quality urban living

Deliver the necessary social infrastructure to support growth in both the urban and rural areas of the borough.

Improve the borough's transport infrastructure in order to support growth in the local economy and to make the borough more attractive as a place to live and do business.

Theme 4: Better places – Developing high quality, well-designed and beautiful places for all to use and enjoy


Support and create a high quality, inclusive and safe built environment which values local landscapes and settlement character, and which conserves and enhances the historic environment to be enjoyed by all.

Where it is viable and sustainable to do so, encourage the re-use of land that has been previously developed.

Provide appropriate amounts and types of housing to meet the needs of the borough's urban and rural communities over the lifetime of the Plan making the housing stock more adaptable and resilient

Achieve a borough where everybody has appropriate access to high quality health and social care, as well as everyday essential services and community facilities where social and cultural wellbeing are supported, enabling all residents to lead healthy and independent lives.

(5)2.3 The interaction between themes and objectives is illustrated below.

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