Decision details

Joint Response to the Bedfordshire Borough Council Draft Plan (Regulation 18) Strategy Options and Draft Policies Consultation

Decision Maker: Lead Cabinet member for Planning

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes



To agree the response, jointly with Cambridge City council, to the Bedford Borough Council Draft Plan (Regulation 18) Strategy Options and Draft Policies consultation



Bedford Borough Council is preparing a new local plan for the period up to 2040. The review of their current local plan which covers the period to 2030 is being progressed at pace to reflect emerging policies around the Oxford to Cambridge Arc. The council needs to submit their new local plan for examination by January 2023 to ensure their plan will remain up to date and to demonstrate five-year land supply.


An initial issues and options consultation and call for sites took place during summer 2020. The current consultation is on Strategy Options and Draft Policies. This consultation started on 29th June and closes on 3rd September 2021.


The consultation and supporting documents can be accessed on Bedford Borough Council’s website:


Summary of Strategy Options and Draft Policies consultation

The Strategy Options and Draft Policies includes the following key components:


Four themes are proposed to reflect the vision for the future: Greener; More accessible; More prosperous; Better Places.


The standard method for calculating housing requirements for Bedford is 1,275 dwellings per year. The current adopted local plan requirement is 970 dwellings per year. Existing commitments (planning permissions, allocations from current local plans and an allowance for windfall, which together total 13,000 dwellings) mean that based on the standard method figure of 1,275 dwellings p.a. the new local plan will need to allocate land to provide a minimum of 12,500 new dwellings. A stepped trajectory approach may be appropriate to fit with the timeline of infrastructure delivery.

There is a need for 171ha of employment land (B type use) with 48ha in supply with a shortfall of 123ha to be allocated in the emerging plan. The council intends to allocate a number of large scale sites that are well connected to the transport network. These sites will be business parks for high technology firms associated with the Oxford Cambridge Arc.


The issues and options consultation suggested six development locations for growth. The consultation responses favoured focusing growth in existing urban areas, the A421 corridor, and possible new railway stations which might be delivered through East West Rail.


In the Strategy Options and Draft Policies consultation, four spatial strategy options have been put forward, which are a short list of strategy options following consideration of a long list in relation to evidence and Sustainability Appraisal. The four options include a mixture of development in and around the urban area, development on the A421 transport corridor, rail-based growth parishes, southern and eastern parishes and two new settlement proposals at Wyboston and/or Little Barford in the north east of the Borough, connected to East West Rail station location options.


These new settlement proposals are included within three of the four spatial strategy options.

The council is not proposing to allocate any small sites as they expect sufficient small sites to continue to be delivered through windfall development. Policies relating to town centres and development management are also included.

Aspects of relevance to Greater Cambridge

Given that the South Cambridgeshire and Bedford Borough boundaries do not adjoin we consider it unlikely that the Bedford Borough Plan would have direct impacts on our districts. However, given the possible growth at new settlements in the north east of Bedford borough linked to East West Rail we would like to highlight at a high level, potential strategic cross-boundary matters of relevance (under the Duty to Cooperate) between Bedford Borough and South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge (noting that Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire are producing a joint plan: strategic cross-boundary matters affecting one district will have implications for the other).


Proposed main response points:

We therefore propose to make the following main response points, noting ongoing uncertainties (see Appendix A for the full response).

  • support the broad approach that Bedford Borough Council has taken to developing the emerging spatial strategy in terms of considering carbon emissions and natural capital as integral components to inform the preferred approach
  • note that three of the four emerging preferred Bedford Borough Local Plan strategy options include a new settlement (linked to the proposed East West Rail station at a location between St Neots and Tempsford) at either Wyboston and/or Little Barford
  • highlight that we will be consulting on our First Proposals Greater Cambridge Local Plan in autumn 2021, including identifying an expanded Cambourne as a broad location for future growth in the 2030’s to respond to the opportunity that will be provided by the proposed East West Rail that includes a station at Cambourne
  • note that the recently adopted Central Bedfordshire Local Plan 2015-35 includes Policy SP1a: Partial Review of the Local Plan, which identifies the need to review the plan within the next six months “in order to investigate, as part of the wider statutory plan-making processes and identify where necessary, opportunities for future growth that can capitalise on any appropriate commitments to improve existing, or provide new, strategic infrastructure”.

In the light of the above, suggest that there is potential for there to be strategic cross-boundary matters of substance between Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and South Cambridgeshire (and Cambridge), as well as with Huntingdonshire, particularly in relation to economic roles, and transport impacts and opportunities of these existing and potential new settlements.


For the Joint Director for Planning and Economic Development and Lead Cabinet member for Planning Policy and Delivery agree the response to the Bedford Borough Council Draft Plan (Regulation 18) Strategy Options and Draft Policies consultation as set out in Appendix A.


A parallel decision is being considered by Cambridge City Council to be agreed, and delegated authority is given to the Joint Director for Planning and Economic Development to agree any minor amendments to the response agreed by the City Council that are consistent with the response at Appendix A.

Reasons for the decision:

To provide the Councils’ comments to this consultation in recognition of the opportunities it provides to influence the emerging Bedford Borough Council Draft Plan.

Alternative options considered:

The council has the option of not responding to the consultation.

Publication date: 03/09/2021

Date of decision: 03/09/2021

Effective from: 11/09/2021

Accompanying Documents: