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

Representation ID: 8066

Received: 03/09/2021

Representation Summary:

The current plan policy in the BBLP 2030 which was adopted in January 2020 plans provides polices and allocations until 2030. However, employment and the nature of the local economy has seen significant changes with regard to the needs for employment in the region and Bedford Borough. Some of these changes have also been influenced by the Pandemic which has resulted in a number of employment changes, including a significant growth in home working. The trend locally has also seen both a significant increase in large warehouse development on the edge of Bedford/A421 and second, very little or new employment in the older and historic employment areas whilst some re use has occurred very little inward investment in new build has taken place. There have been notable changes of use away from employment uses to retail and leisure opportunities within these historic employment areas as the market readjusts to try and re use some of these sites. Bedford with its connections to the M1 and A1 and central location is also well positioned to provide for logistics. The Pandemic has highlighted the importance and value of logistics and a need for small business premises continues to be change in the type of employment being delivered.

Accordingly, this is a submission seeking changes to the employment approach in the local plan polices to facilitate development on land outside the settlement areas, in and around the Great Barford which can add to the employment provision. This submission seeks to include land between Addington Road and New Road Great Barford as an area which can accommodate employment provision. This is an area which is going to see considerable infrastructure improvements as a result of the A421/East West Rail Link and is well located to provide employment opportunities close to these improvements. Additionally, it is well located to provide employment for Great Barford. National Planning Framework supports the provision of rural employment.

A considerable number of the existing employment sites are simply not suitable for modern employment use and portfolio of employment sites needs to be increased to encourage the economic diversity required for sustainable growth. The employment study confirms it has not taken account of the vacant stock and this is a weakness in the conclusions then enshrined in the Issues and Options. The vacancy of the sites indicates not a lack of interest, but a lack of suitability.

The options for growth identified as 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d seek new settlements at Wyboston and or Little Barford. In conjunction the EEH transport study provides a framework across the region for transport growth. The Employment Study at para 9.6 recognises the importance of this new infrastructure. However, it needs to consider that some rural employment use is needed to support the rural economy.

The options for growth in 2d seeks growth along the eastern transport corridor. The site is, and the surrounding land is well placed to contribute to that growth and could form part of the employment requirement.

The Employment Study needs to take a more critical look at the existing employment vacancy and how realistic it is for sites having remained vacant to realistically contribute to employment land supply. A number of additional rural sites could be provided to address supply matters and support the need for types of employment not well suited to existing or the new employment business parks but can be accommodated in rural employment areas.

This is a site which should be protected for employment purposes.

The plan and evidence need to consider the role that rural employment sites can contribute to the supply in greater detail. Polices 69, 70 and 71 should be revised to address this matter.