Planning for the future in Central Bedfordshire: Local Development Scheme

Central Bedfordshire Council has now formally published their Local Development Scheme (LDS), which sets out a draft timetable for taking forward the formal review of their Local Plan, which was previously adopted in July 2021.

Policy SP1a of the Plan committed the Council to a review commencing within 6 months of adoption.

A report was presented to the Council’s Sustainable Communities Overview & Scrutiny Committee (OSC) on 28th February 2022 and this was endorsed to now go forward to the Council’s Executive Committee for approval to take the LDS forward.

The key milestones in the LDS timetable are as follows:

  1. Commence review of the Local Plan: January 2022
  2. Complete review: August/September 2022
  3. Commence evidence gathering for Local Plan update: August 2022 (ongoing)
  4. Preparation of Local Plan update (including monitoring of polices and updating the evidence base): August2022 -August 2025. This is an ongoing process as the evidence base is developed and updated throughout the preparation of the Plan, up until its Submission to the Secretary of State
  5. Informal and non-statutory engagement and evidence review: January 2023 –January 2024. This stage will involve updating and checking key parts of the evidence base such as settlement hierarchy, settlement envelope, Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) etc
  6. Public and stakeholder engagement in preparing the Draft Local Plan -formal consultation (Regulation 18): September -November 2024. Consultation will take place over a 6-week period, however, the exact timeframe will be confirmed once the updates and review of the evidence base has been undertaken
  7. Publication of the proposed submission (Pre-Submission) plan for representations (Regulation 19): June-July 2025. Consultation will take place over a 6-week period, however, the exact timeframe will be confirmed once the representations made at Regulation 18 have been reviewed and any updates to evidence base has been undertaken
  8. Submission of Local Plan to Secretary of State for Examination (Reg 22): November 2025
  9. Examination Period: January 2026–June 2026
  10. Inspector’s Report: August 2026
  11. Adoption: October 2026.

In line with the timetable set out above the Council are currently in the early stages of the review, which is due to be completed in August/September of this year.  The review will consider key issues such as national policy requirements, housing demand and the use of the standard method, how adopted policies are operating and changes in local circumstances.  Upon completion of the review a report will be presented to Members to determine what needs to be updated i.e., whether there is a no update, a partial update or a full update of the Plan.

Key outcomes of the review will be conclusions on whether any adopted policies need to be amended, whether any new policies are required and whether any additional housing or employment land is required to meet updated assessment of needs.

There are also a number of significant factors that will influence this first review stage:

  1. Reforms to the Planning System – The Government White Paper in 2020 proposed some radical changes to the Planning System.  Since then nothing further has been published but it is anticipated that the Government will publish further proposals this year;
  2. The status of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc – Despite publishing a consultation paper in 2021 to bring forward a Spatial Framework for the area, it now seems evident that this is being quietly dropped by the Government (no mention of the Arc in the Levelling Up Paper) and that any strategy will be locally led as opposed to having Government providing strategic direction.  Given the varying degrees of support for the Arc across the different local authorities, it is not expected that the Arc Project will move forward as previously envisaged;
  3. Infrastructure projects such as East-West Rail and upgrades to the A1.

With uncertainty over these key issues the LDS timetable is liable to change.

For landowner interests moving forward, the key outcomes of the review will be whether or not the Council decides if there is a requirement to deliver additional land for housing and/or employment needs.  The Council makes no mention in the LDS of launching a ‘Call for Sites’ and it is expected that such a process would only commence during the evidence gathering stage i.e. post September/October 2022, if it were determined that additional land was required.

Woods Hardwick Planning has a long and sustained track record in Central Bedfordshire and should you wish to discuss the Local Plan Review and how we can assist you promote your interests please get in touch.


Richard Murdock
Planning Director