Bedford Borough Local Plan 2040 Plan for Submission
2.0 Vision and objectives
2.1 The purpose of the vision is to demonstrate the focus and direction of the local plan.
By the end of the plan period:
The borough will have become a greener, more sustainable, more attractive and prosperous place to live and work. Tackling climate change and adapting to and mitigating its effects will be at the heart of new development throughout the borough.
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 new settlements at Little Barford and Kempston Hardwick will play a primary role in delivering much needed housing to 2040 and beyond. The development at Stewartby Brickworks will be complete, forming a new community on the old brickmaking site, celebrating its heritage.
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 up-front transport links and speedy internet access. Development of high quality commercial and office spaces, greater connectivity and the completion of significant infrastructure projects 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. 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. A regenerated Mayes Yard will bring vacant spaces back into use. 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 including allotments and other services will be in place. The borough's built heritage and wider historic environment will continue to be respected, protected and enhanced.
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 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 Park 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.
2.2 The following themes reflect the vision.
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 a carbon neutral borough
Deliver high quality growth that integrates closely with the surrounding landscape, facilitating more sustainable and inclusive local communities, which can respond better 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. Re-introduce faster north-south travel.
Improve "first mile / last mile" local connections to strategic infrastructure, allowing for easier access and greater integration
Theme 3: More prosperous
– Supporting new innovative businesses, educational and employment opportunities
Support a stronger local economy by building on the strengths of the emerging higher value clusters, to become a location for innovative businesses, with a strategically important employment site as a local innovation hub.
Allocate land to provide locations for the delivery of high value jobs.
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 health and social infrastructure to increase well-being in both the urban and rural areas of the borough.
Improve the borough's transport infrastructure in time 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
Deliver the level of housing growth required by the Government's standard methodology calculation.
Support and create a high quality, inclusive and safe built environment which promotes healthy living, values and enhances local landscapes and settlement character, and which conserves and enhances the historic environment to be enjoyed by all.
Encourage the re-use of land that has been previously developed where it is viable and sustainable to do so.
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.
2.3 The interaction between themes and objectives is illustrated below.
The scope of the plan
2.4 The Local Plan 2030 was adopted in January 2020 and the vast majority of its policies are up to date and do not need to change. Remaining policies in the earlier Allocations and Designations Local Plan have also been reviewed and, in the majority of cases, they remain fit for purpose and similarly do not need to change at this time. Existing development plan policies that are to be replaced are identified in brackets, and more information about this is given in Appendix 1.
2.5 The development strategy to 2030 is already set and it is important that it is allowed to deliver. For that reason, the policies in this local plan build on it, and in doing so, to put in place a robust strategy for growth to 2040.
2.6 Taking account of responses received to the Issues and Options (2020) and Draft Plan Strategy (2021) consultations, the plan focuses on the following key policy areas:
- Climate change
- The Development Strategy to 2040, and site allocations in order to meet national policy requirements
- Town centre and retail policies in order to support a more flexible future for our centres
- New and updated development management policies (those used to help make decisions on planning applications) to do with:
- A refreshed housing chapter including:
- Affordable housing (replaces LP2030 Policy 58S)
- Review mechanisms (new policy)
- Housing mix (replaces LP2030 Policy 59S)
- First homes exception policy (new policy)
- Self-build and custom housebuilding (new policy)
- Residential space standards (new policy)
- Environmental net gain (replaces LP2030 Policy 43)
- New employment development in the countryside (replaces LP2030 Policy 75)
- Horse and Equestrian Activities (new policy)
- Non-designated heritage assets (new policy)
- Outdoor sports space in association with new development (partially replaces ADLP policy AD28)
- Tall buildings (new policy)
- A refreshed housing chapter including:
 Policies with the suffix 'S' are strategic policies