Central Beds Local Plan finally adopted after six year delay

Central Bedfordshire's Local Plan 2015-2035 has finally been adopted by the local authority, six years into the period it covers after various delays.

By Euan Duncan
Monday, 26th July 2021, 9:44 am
Updated Monday, 26th July 2021, 9:59 am
Central Beds Council's head office at Chicksands
Central Beds Council's head office at Chicksands

The document was approved by Central Bedfordshire Council s executive and full council on Thursday, July 22.

It has undergone a lengthy examination by independent planning inspectors, following a previous rejection by the Planning Inspectorate.

"The Local Plan sets out how and where new homes, jobs and infrastructure will be delivered in Central Bedfordshire," it said.

"It outlines the strategy for ensuring that growth is delivered in the right place and is of the right character and quality."

Its aim was to produce a Local Plan which "balances the conflicting pressures of ambitious government targets for new homes and jobs, while protecting the countryside and Green Belt".

The document was deemed suitable for adoption in the final Planning Inspectorate's report, subject to modifications which have been accepted by CBC.

Conservative council leader and Arlesey councillor Richard Wenham said: "I'm delighted we've reached this significant milestone.

"Adopting this Local Plan will open up new opportunities for this council and for all our residents to manage future growth and push back on unwanted developments, as well as allow us to build significant pieces of infrastructure.

"One of those is this removes one of the last barriers to us being able to commit to work on the M1/A6 link road, which will relieve hundreds of daily HGV journeys through towns and villages in that area.

"it will also enable the development of the southern rail freight interchange bringing thousands of jobs to that area of Central Bedfordshire."

Conservative Caddington councillor Kevin Collins told the full council meeting: "Central government places ever more importance on local authorities having local plans in place.

"Guidance encourages plans which seek to cover a period of 20 years," he explained. "We began in 2015 looking forward from there.

"As a council we face many challenges. We've a rapidly growing, ageing and changing population.

"We need to balance growth with the provision of schools, health facilities and other key infrastructure.

"We must protect the environment which makes this such as attractive place. We're acutely aware of our geographical position in a wider area of growth potential.

"This cannot be ignored and is indeed a chance to take charge of our future," said councillor Collins, who's the executive member for regeneration and planning.

"We're an area of attractive market towns, beautiful villages and stunning countryside. We also have great transport links and other attractions.

"The plan sets a realistic target for the delivery of new homes and jobs in a way which will protect the intrinsic character of the area, while ensuring growth comes in the most sustainable way."

Councillors agreed to adopt the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan 2015-2035, after narrowly failing to secure a recorded vote.

Several independent councillors asked for their vote 'against' to be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

An updated version of the council’s local development scheme (LDS) was also approved, alongside the adopted Local Plan.

The document includes a policy commitment to undertake a partial review of the plan within six months of its adoption date.

CBC has allocated sites for around 32,000 new homes and makes provision for approximately 24,000 new jobs. CBC also has a statutory duty to contribute towards Luton's unmet housing need, with 7,350 new homes earmarked for this.