Site ID: 1336
Site Assessment Pro Formas
Representation ID: 4524
Respondent: Mrs Lucy Crawford
The site is within the urban area on brownfield land. THere are bus stops, pavements and cycle paths. It is ideal.
Site Assessment Pro Formas
Representation ID: 6036
Respondent: Hubbell Limited
Agent: Aragon Land and Planning
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.
Accordingly, this is a submission seeking changes to the employment approach in the local plan polices to facilitate development on the vacant employment opportunities which exist in these historic employment allocations and urban sites.
The employment study June 2021 categories the Woburn Lane Industrial Area as one to protect and enhance (para 6.19). Para 6.9 recognises the nature of the stock is limited and dated. The site is shown below and is marked in red. The site is 1.3h, it is level and is coterminous with residential and employment uses. It is in close proximity to the residential use on the east which has been a problem and identified as a factor in preventing other businesses from using or leasing the site due to the risk of amenity conflict.
[Aerial photograph of site location inserted.]
The more recent and strongest growth in employment trends in the area has been to provide for large warehouses along the A421 and key highway and transport infrastructure. Bedford Borough has accepted this type of employment cannot be provided on these historic or older employment allocations and they are no longer fit for purpose; and a number, including Chantry Avenue could be released for housing. Some of this B8 demand is described as “footloose “and it will not all be achieved by Central Bedfordshire. It is likely this further footloose demand around the transport interchanges can be expected to continue and again will contribute to employment supply and this further weakens the need for these smaller older central sites to remain as part of the employment supply.
One of the key points in relation to this site was the viability and the leasehold situation which has prevented the site from coming forward as an employment site. The previous viability report is included, and residential and care uses were considered. A residential layout plan is provided to show one possible form of development. The viability report demonstrates that residential is the only viable use, and whilst the values have increased in time the conclusions remain robust. This report can be updated when evidence is submitted in advance of the examination. It is agreed in the Employment Study Part 2 that the site will not become an office location.
The growth of B8 requires large warehouses and this part of the Woburn Road employment allocation is unlikely to be able to sustain such height in close proximity to residential for reasons or amenity/outlook.
The infrastructure changes with the A421, the East-West rail link will see a much wider opportunity to locate employment and distribution around these hubs which are significantly better served for more up to date forms of employment and closer to transport links. These the older employment allocations where vacancy and dereliction has blighted communities should now able to be released for other forms of development. This would also follow the qualitative factors the employment study identifies at 9.10, for example,
Sites should have few constraints on development. They should have good access to strategic transport routes (road and rail). The height or massing of individual buildings should not be an overriding issue.
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. The approach in the plan recognises the need for well located sites (para 6.7) and therefore the older sites, such as Chantry Avenue can be released from being an employment allocation. A new criterion can be added to E1S seeking the release of vacant employment land. Clearly these sites are well located in the urban areas for housing and will strongly accord with national planning advice for the re use of previously developed land and the provision of housing. A housing layout is appended to demonstrate the potential of the site.