Object

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

Representation ID: 6674

Received: 14/09/2021

Representation Summary:

Employment strategy
It is understood that the Employment Land Study identifies a need for an additional 53 hectares of land for B8 warehousing and logistics for the period through to 2040. However, the consultation documents explain that the Draft Plan would not seek to make any further provision for B8 warehousing and logistics over and above existing commitments and allocations. The focus of the Draft Plan is creating jobs within other sectors, which is understandable. However, the lack of provision for B8 is likely to be problematic.
The Draft Plan relies upon existing commitments and new allocations now made within the Central Beds Local Plan 2035 to accommodate this demand. It is stated that Central Beds are content with this approach as their plan’s allocations are partly intended to accommodate such ‘foot loose’ demand. However, it is noted that their plan only covers the period to 2035 and that Central Beds will be embarking upon an imminent review and production of a new Local Plan.
Reference is also made within the consultation documents to the fact that the Milton Keynes East allocation within Plan:MK makes additional provision for B8 use for the period through to 2031 and beyond. Whilst this is correct, the precise quantum of B8 land to come forward within Milton Keynes East is still to be determined and, in any event, would be assigned to meeting Milton Keynes’ own demand for such land uses over that period, rather than seeking to meet demands arising beyond Milton Keynes for the period to 2040. It is not clear if that is the intention of the Draft Plan, but if so then this would need to be agreed on a cross-boundary basis as part of the Duty to Cooperate following further technical work and discussion as to how such demands could be met through a ‘larger than local’ strategy for employment land, but in particular land for B8 warehousing and logistics.
There may be merit in pursuing a ‘larger than local’ strategy for meeting B8 demand taking in not just Bedford and Milton Keynes, but also Central Beds and adjacent authorities along the M1 corridor. Such a strategy would be able to take account of how retail and associated warehousing/logistics trends may be shifting as a result of the pandemic and new international trading arrangements for England and the UK, both of which will have effects for businesses within the M1/A421 and A1 transport corridors. It is suggested that this could be raised as a matter for SEMLEP to lead on given the geography it covers.
Notwithstanding the above, based on the Draft Plan as it exists today, we are concerned that a lack of provision to meet the demand for B8 warehousing and logistics land within Bedford through to 2040, with a reliance on provision elsewhere, would ultimately undermine the Local Plan 2040 without the agreement of neighbouring authorities via the Duty to Cooperate. The lack of provision in Bedford over this period is likely to create additional demand for land in neighbouring authorities connected via strategic transport corridors for B8 warehousing and logistics, which may not be capable of being met or would be contrary to their own Economic Strategies.