Bedfordshire Local Plan Watch - Autumn 2021
Local plans reviews are now progressing in Bedfordshire; opportunities for the promotion of strategic land are emerging.
The review of the Bedford Borough Local Plan 2030 is already underway, with a Call for Sites consultation closing in early 2021 and an Issues and Options concluding in September 2021.
The Issues and Options consultation presented different options for growth which focused employment/residential growth within the urban area (in somewhat unrealistic numbers), within the A421 corridor and at rail station settlements. The options also presented the possibility of new settlements in Little Barford and Wyboston. Neighbourhood plans remain a focus for the delivery of smaller development sites in Bedford Borough and it is noted that Neighbourhood Plans have progressed, with plans made in recent months in Great Barford, Harrold, Wooton and Willington.
Bedford Borough are set to consult on the Regulation 19 Draft Plan in May/June 2022.
Central Beds have finally set out their timetable for their Local Plan Review, with a Regulation 18 consultation in September/November 2024 and a Regulation 19 consultation in June/July 2025. Landowners/developers should gear up for the impending Call for Sites process which will kick off the consultation on this Local Plan update.
Luton’s Local Plan is five years old this year and the Borough should be considering its review, although there has been no evidence of this process starting to date. Opportunities for growth may be limited in this authority because of tight administrative boundaries and Green Belt considerations.
Undoubtedly, the preparation of these Local Plans will be influenced by the recent uncertainty on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. Similarly, the talk of reform of the Standard Methodology from National Government will be a hot issue in Bedfordshire, particularly given that these authorities are set to see a sharp increase in housing numbers under the current figures.
Five Year Land supply
All Bedfordshire authorities claim a five year housing land supply.
Bedford Borough’s latest 5YHLS position covers a five year period up to 2025/6 and claims a 6.56 year land supply. Similarly, Luton Borough’s latest 5YHLS position covers a five year period up to 2024/5 and claims 6.36 years.
Central Bedfordshire’s latest 5YHLS position covers a five year period up to 31st December 2026. It claims a deliverable supply of 11,152 dwellings, which against its adopted housing requirement and a 5% buffer, equates to 5.6 years.
There are two pending appeals in Central Bedfordshire which are notable.
The first is in Stotfold (LPA ref: CB/21/01248/OUT / PINS ref: 3289401). This is an outline application for a development of up to 181 dwellings inc. 35% affordable, a Care Village, etc. An inquiry is set to commence on 3rd May 2022. This appeal is challenging the Council’s land supply on numerous grounds, including: approach to ‘deliverable’ supply, inclusion of oversupply, the figure to be measured against, etc.
The second appeal is in Potton (LPA ref: CB/20/04672/FULL / PINS ref: 3289675). This is a full planning application for 97 residential units on Local Plan allocation HA9. An inquiry is set to commence on 20th April 2022. This appeal is also challenging the Council’s land supply on similar grounds to the Stotfold appeal. The Council are arguing a 5.4 year land supply in their land supply proof.
For detail on emerging Local Plan position in Bedfordshire please click on the map below.