Central Beds Council: "Our Development Strategy Is Now Out of Date"

Council Executive supports new Local Plan

Central Bedfordshire Council has moved a step closer to producing a new Local Plan after resolving to withdraw the Central Bedfordshire Development Strategy, the draft local plan for the area up to 2031.

The proposals, which included a recommendation to discontinue legal proceedings with the Secretary of State, were backed by Executive councillors today but the final decision will rest with full Council on 19 November. If the Council agrees to formally withdraw the Development Strategy, work on a new plan would begin immediately.

The Development Strategy, outlining how the Council would meet future demand for homes and jobs while protecting the natural and built environment, was submitted to the Secretary of State last October for independent examination. Following initial meetings with the Planning Inspector, the Council received a letter from the Inspector in February, stating that the Council had not met the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ with other local authorities.

Since that time the Government has introduced significant changes to national planning guidance and revised household projections have been released. Accordingly, the evidence base of the Development Strategy is now out of date and councillors agreed to sanction a proposal to reset the process and produce a new plan. This will enable the Council to proactively plan for growth in a sustainable way.

The Council has also been proactive since February, using the time to review the evidence underpinning the Development Strategy and engaging with neighbouring authorities so that it would be in a position to swiftly commence work on the new plan. This will ensure that the right development occurs in the right locations with the necessary supporting infrastructure.

Nigel Young, Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “During preparation of the Development Strategy, we have listened carefully to the views of local people and neighbouring Councils. I want to personally thank everyone who has contributed across our communities. Other Councils have found themselves in the same position as ourselves and, given the challenges of a rapidly changing planning policy environment, we have supported the idea of resetting the process.

“We need to act in the interests of our communities and what is most important now is to get a sustainable new Local Plan in place as soon as possible so that the Council can maintain control of growth and associated infrastructure to support it.”