Latest Report

Roxton Parish Council: Cllr Wootton’s Update - January 2018 

Bedford Borough Local Plan 2035 

You will recall from previous reports that the Council has been for the past 4 years been undertaking studies and consultations to determine its Local Plan which will agree plans for around 8000 new homes to the year 2035. 

The Mayor’s Executive has now published its draft Local Plan submission which will be subject to public consultation between 22nd January – 5th March. The final Local Plan, subject to any changes made as a result of the consultation, will be considered by a meeting of all councillors on the 28th March. If agreed, it will then be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. 

The timetable set out above has been accelerated after the Government stated its intention for local authorities to be subject to a centralised methodology to determine housing targets, rather than each council undertaking their own assessment as at present. The Council’s Local Plan 2035 is allocating sites for development based on a calculated need to provide 950 homes a year. This compares with the new methodology which would require 1281 homes annually, thus increasing the Borough’s housing need to 2035 from around 8,000 to 14,000 homes. The rational for submitting the Local Plan for examination before the end of March is for the Council to benefit from ‘transitional arrangements’ to avoid the increased target. 

A key aspect of the draft submission is the selection of a new settlement to deliver around a third of the new homes to 2035. In this regard, land owners and planning agents submitted 4 sites for consideration, namely: Wyboston; Colworth (Sharnbrook); Twinwoods (between Milton Ernest and Thurleigh), and; Thurleigh Airfield. An additional site, called ‘Bedford Brickworks’ was submitted formally for consideration in November and consists of a plan to build on largely brownfield land to the south of Bedford to deliver 4,500 homes in the Local Plan period, extending to 9,145 dwellings thereafter. 

The Mayor’s draft Local Plan includes the Colworth site, adjacent to Sharnbrook and Souldrop, as the preferred settlement which will deliver 2500 homes in the Local Plan period and then up to 4500 in subsequent years. The Executive’s report notes that the promise of a new parkway rail station linking the settlement with Bedford and London is a key reason behind its selection. 

The draft Local Plan also includes an allocation of 2420 homes in the urban area, which means there is no longer a need for ‘edge of urban’ sites at Salph End, Renhold and Gibraltar Corner, Kempston. A 500 home allocation for Wilstead has also been removed, while a 600 dwelling development in Sharnbrook will not go ahead if the Colworth settlement, as set out above, is agreed. Conversely, 500 homes are still scheduled in each of Bromham, Great Barford and Clapham. 

The below table is taken from the Executive report (which can be in full at this link) and sets out the allocations to be considered by the Executive. The left of the table shown the plans consulted on last year, while the right side shows the plans included in the draft submission:

Search ‘Bedford Local Plan 2035’ for details on how to respond to the consultation once it begins on the 22nd January.

 

Bedford Hospital 

The Chief Executive of Bedford Hospital, Stephen Conroy, attended a meeting of the Council’s Adult Services & Health Committee in December to update councillors on the merger with Luton & Dunstable Hospital. 

The written report to the Committee reiterated that a ‘full range of services will continue to be provided for patients on both sites. This includes retaining key services such as A&E, maternity and paediatrics at Bedford Hospital’. A full business case for the merger was submitted to NHS regulators on the 22nd December and a decision should be made within 10 weeks.

 Putnoe Walk In Centre 

There have been recent media reports about the future of the Walk-in Centre at Putnoe Surgery in Bedford. The facility is used by residents throughout the Borough to receive non-urgent treatment. The current partners were recently awarded a new contract by the Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG - which has responsibility for organising local NHS services) to provide GP services but it is unclear as to whether the contract for the Walk-in Centre service will be renewed in March. The BCCG says it is looking at various options but no further details have been released.

 Black Cat / A428 Improvements 

Last year Highways England undertook a public consultation on options to reconfigure the Black Cat roundabout as well as providing a new dual carriageway from the Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet. 

An announcement on the preferred options was due to be made in the autumn but Highways England has admitted that this deadline will not be met. The purported reason for the delay is that more assessments are required to link the scheme with plans to improve the A1 between the M25 and Peterborough.

 Town Centre Police Enquiries Office 

On the 18th December the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway opened a new police enquiries office in Lime Street, Bedford in a move to improve police visibility. The new office will be open to the public from Monday-Friday between 9am and 5pm.

 Rights of Way Improvement Plan 

The Council is consulting on its updated Rights of Way Improvement Plan for 2018 – 2023. This will assess users’ needs and subsequently set out an action plan on improvements to the Council’s 1,000Km of public footpaths, bridleways and byways. Should you wish to respond to the Council’s questionnaire, search ‘Bedford rights of way consultation’ or visit the Council’s Customer Services Centre on Horne Lane or the Council’s 5 library sites in: the town centre; Bromham; Wootton; Putnoe, and Kempston. The consultation deadline has been extended to the 5th February.

 Keeping Warm in Winter 

Keeping warm can be difficult during the winter months, particularly for older persons. Age UK Bedfordshire is offering advice to help. For more information call 01234360510 or visit http://www.ageuk.org.uk/bedfordshire/  

Winter Travel 

The Council’s website provides a useful section on up to date service changes arising from the winter weather. This includes changes to public, school and adult services transport, waste collections and road gritting. Search ‘Bedford winter updates’ for more information.

Cllr Tom Wootton 07771575227 / tom.wootton@bedford.gov.uk