We are extremely fortunate that Bedford Borough Council has numerous transport related policies of relevance to cycling. The main ones are to be found within the following documents:
Bedford Development Framework and component documents:Bedford Local Transport Plan
Rights of Way Improvement Plan
Since 27 March 2012 all local plans must conform to the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The Borough started work in May 2013 on a new Local Plan, Bedford Local Plan 2035, but it is not expected to be adopted until at least March 2018.
The Bedford Development Framework is Bedford's Local Development Framework and consists of a series of documents which include saved policies from the Bedford Local Plan (2002) in addition to the more recently adopted Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan. The former document will eventually be replaced by the new BDF policies as they are adopted.
Bedford Local Plan 2002 [Borough Document] covered the period to 2006. As such it contains a number of saved policies which are relevant to cycling:
Policy T13 Pedestrian Routes – Replaced from 13 July 2013 by Policy AD36 Pedestrian Routes in the Allocations and Designations Plan.
Policy T14 Cycle Routes – Replaced from 13 July 2013 by Policy AD39 Cycling in the Allocations and Designations Plan.
Policy T15 Parking – In considering development proposals, the Borough Council will have regard to the Supplementary Planning Guidance on parking standards (below) and seek to negotiate where appropriate commuted payments for off-site provision, eg. infrastructure provision for park and ride services, other public transport provision, pedestrian and cycling facities.
Bedford Borough's Parking Standards for Sustainable Communities Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) was adopted by the Council’s Executive on 10th September 2014, the cycle parking design guidance section 5.0 replacing the old Bedfordshire County Council's 2006 document.
Policy T21 Accessibility for Less Mobile People – All new development to make provision for or contribute to improving accessibility on public transport, footpaths, roads and other public areas for disabled persons.
Policy BE3 Uses and Infrastructure to promote Self Sustaining Communities – The Borough Council will encourage access for everyone, including wheelchair users and other disabled people, elderly people, and those with toddlers or infants in pushchairs, and will encourage appropriate provision to meet their needs in all developments.
Policy BE30 Material Considerations in the Control of New Development – The Borough Council will have full regard to all material considerations when determining applications for new developments, in particular:
(iv) any additional traffic expected to arise from the development, either in relation to highway capacity or general disturbance, and provision made for car parking;
(v) the extent to which the development is served by, and makes provision for access by public transport, cycles and pedestrians;
(vi) the suitablitiy of access arrangements to and within new developments for all members of the community, including, pedestrians, cyclists and disabled people.
Policy BE48 Accessible Environments – The Borough Council will encourage access for everyone, including wheelchair users and other disabled people, elderly people, and those with toddlers or infants in pushchairs, and will encourage appropriate provision to meet their needs in all developments.
The Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan [Borough Document] sets out the long term spatial vision for Bedford Borough to 2021. Adopted in April 2008 the plan sets out various strategic objectives, including supporting a coordinated delivery of transport improvements with emphasis on non-car modes. It also seeks to deliver high quality design that takes account of sustainable access and community safety. The following Core Policies are relevant to cycling:
CP1 Spatial Strategy – Sustainable levels, locations and forms of development will be sought in accordance with the stated objectives and policies of this Plan and the objectives and policies of the East of England Plan and the Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy.
CP2 Sustainable Development Principles - The development and use of land will ensure that:
(vii) the use of public transport, walking and cycling is encouraged and car use minimised.
CP22 Green Infrastructure – Both on site and off site provision/enhancement will be made with regard to the priorities identified in the council’s Greenspace Strategy.
CP27 Strategic Transport Infrastructure – To support introduction of National Cycle Network routes.
CP28 Local Transport Plan – The Borough Council supports the objectives, strategy and programme set out in the Local Transport Plan.
CP29 Accessibility – To encourage sustainable modes of transport and reduce reliance on the car, development will be located and designed to include facilities which provide convenient access to local services by foot, cycle and public transport.
CP30 Developer Contributions - Where implementation of a development would individually or cumulatively create a need to provide additional or improved infrastructure, amenities or facilities, or would exacerbate an existing deficiency in their provision, the developer will be expected to make or contribute towards such provision by means of planning condition or legal obligation.
The Town Centre Area Action Plan [Borough Document] (adopted October 2008) sets out the spatial strategy for the Bedford town centre. One of its objectives is to give a Better Connected Centre - to improve access to the town centre through the provision of new public transport interchanges, new highway infrastructure, public transport priority when feasible, the use of park and ride facilities and improved facilities for pedestrians, cyclists, taxis and private hire vehicles. Where and when highway capacity can be increased, priority should be given to modes other than private cars.
Riverside Square (now Riverside North)
A stylish foot/cycle bridge across the river should link with St Mary's Gardens.
Castle Quarter (now complete)
Enabling works including pedestrian/cycle links.
Enabling works including new pedestrian/cycle bridge.
Bedford High Street
Potential to reduce traffic will also provide potential in the long term to create a south-north cycle link.
St Mary's Quarter
The introduction of new river crossings will open up this area and create new and enhanced pedestrian/cycle and vehicular links. As a result it will play a more important role as a key gateway into the town centre.
The following Core Policies are relevant to cycling:
TC6 Office development Sites -
One of the requirements is access to public transport/walking/cycle routes.
TC7 New Retail Quarter Bedford Town Centre West
(viii) provision of sufficient town centre and residents’ car and cycle parking including secure cycle storage.
TC9 Cultural Quarter Castle Lane
(v) provision of adequate cycle parking for residents and visitors.
TC11 Riverside Quarter Riverside Square
(iv) provision of a stylish new foot/cycle bridge across the river;
(v) provision of new footpath and cycle routes to connect with existing routes in the town centre and along the river corridor;
(vi) provision of adequate cycle parking for residents and visitors.
TC12 Riverside Quarter Shire Hall and the Bank Building Site
(vii) safeguarding footpath and cycle routes along the river corridor;
(viii) provision of adequate secure cycle parking for staff and visitors.
TC13 Station Quarter Bedford Station
(iii) provision of revised access arrangements via Ashburnham Road with appropriate provision for bus, taxi/private hire vehicles, cycle and pedestrian access and drop-off/pick-up points;
(vi) re-provision of car and cycle parking.
TC14 St Mary's Quarter
Land and premises on the south bank of the river will be more closely integrated with the town centre in terms of design aspect and connectivity via the proposed bridges which will provide enhanced pedestrian, cycle and vehicular links.
TC15 Kingsway Quarter
(vii) Improve pedestrian/cycle connections between the area and the town centre and the St. John’s railway halt;
(ix) provision of adequate cycle parking for residents and visitors.
TC21 Walking and Cycle Routes
Pedestrian route proposals are shown on Figure 3 (in the published document) and should be well defined, safe and reflect pedestrian desire lines. Active frontages should also be encouraged to reduce any perception of isolation and vulnerability particularly during hours of darkness.
Cycle route proposals are shown on Figure 4 (in the published document) and seek to connect sections of cycle route that do not link together as a coherent network. It also seeks to promote new routes into the edge of the primary shopping area, addressing the current problems of permeability. The following routes will be promoted:-
• Midland Road corridor (for walking and cycling in the long term) including links to the rail and bus stations;
• a north-south spine for pedestrians and cyclists ultimately linking Bus Station redevelopment site via the proposed Landmark Bridge to Kingsway;
• River Street corridor;
• routes along the river;
• an east-west route for pedestrians and cyclists through the Bedford Town Centre West site,
• High Street corridor (once de-trafficking is in place) to provide a north-south route through the town centre for pedestrians and cyclists; and
• The Grove/Newnham Street and Castle Lane*
Developer contributions will be sought for the provision of improved cycle facilities including secure cycle storage at key locations as shown on Figure 4 (in the published document). Contributions will also be sought towards improved pedestrian facilities. In addition to the sites identified in this plan, contributions will also be sought on a pro-rata basis from more modest developments.
*Current no-entry arrangements (westbound) would need to be reviewed to achieve this route.
TC23 Public Transport Interchange/Services
Service improvements are to provide adequate cycle parking at public transport interchanges
TC29 Riverside Frontages
The Borough Council will seek to integrate the riverside environment with the function of the town centre through the use of higher quality development on river frontage sites, the provision of environmental improvements and new pedestrian/cycle routes including the provision of a stylish new foot/cycle bridge linking Riverside Square with St Mary’s Gardens.
TC30 Riverside Development
(iv) maintain and enhance pedestrian and cycle access to the river and between the centre and the river corridor.
TC36 Redevelopment Proposals
Will be considered against
(iii) The extent to which the proposals are accessible by, or can enhance accessibility by walking, cycling and public transport.
TC37 Leisure Uses
(iv) The extent to which the proposal is accessible on foot, by cycle and by public transport.
TC40 Developer Contributions
In order to achieve the comprehensive regeneration of the town centre, developer contributions will be sought from all schemes that have a proven indirect or direct impact on the centre, towards the delivery of key elements of highway and other infrastructure (including where appropriate education and community infrastructure), public transport improvements, environmental improvements, pedestrian and cycling improvements, CCTV and other crime and disorder initiatives, public art and the management and maintenance of the public realm of the centre as a whole.
The Allocations and Designations Plan [Borough Document] was adopted in July 2013 and allocates land required for future development in the Borough up to 2021. It designates areas where particular controls on development apply and reviews the boundary of Settlement Policy Areas and the urban area.
Policy AD39 Cycling – The council will require the protection, enhancement and promotion of cycle routes and facilities including those shown on the Proposals Map, and seek the provision of new routes and facilities for cyclists which are safe, convenient and attractive, particularly in association with major development and transportation proposals. River and rail crossings will include provision for cyclists where appropriate.
The Cycle Network incorporating the Green Wheel is the subject of Chapter 12 of the document. Backgound Papers [Borough Document] are Bedford Green Wheel Master Plan Draft Report, December 2009 and Cycle Network Background Paper, March 2012.
The Proposals Maps [Borough Document] show cycle routes (including the National Cycle Network Route 51) as existing, proposed and requiring improvement.
The Allocations and Designations Plan also contains a Chapter (Chapter 7) on Green Infrastructure with accessible green space and access routes as two of the five themes. The Bedfordshire and Luton Stategic Green Infrastructure Plan was published in 2007 but with the change to Unitary Authorities in 2009, each of the three authorities including Bedford Borough Council have now published their own. The Borough's Green Infrastructure Plan 2009 [Borough Document] shows six opportunity zones covered by Policy AD24 Infrastructure Opportunity Zones on the Proposals Maps 1, 2 and 3. These include:
Zone 1 Milton Keynes to Grafham - Wooded Wolds
Linking woodlands with access routes and centres of population, particularly enhancing the strategic 'Three Shires Bridleway' and 'Forty Foot Lane'.
Zone 2 Upper Great Ouse River Valley
Access improvements through the north west section of the Bedford Green Wheel project, including new river crossings and links with parks, nature reserves, countryside attractions and housing developments, to create a green access corridor around Bedford and into the town centre. The Green Wheel project as a whole will create a network of traffic free paths and quiet routes for cyclists, walkers and riders (where feasible) around Bedford. This network will run around Bedford, and includes 'spokes' linking into the town centre. The network will link parks, nature reserves, countryside and homes.
Extending the current green wheel proposals to link Bedford to surrounding villages through a network of green corridors.
Zone 3 Lower Great Ouse River Valley
Creating and improving green access routes, including the eastern section of the Bedford Green Wheel project, Sustrans Route 51 and the Ouse Valley Way.
Zone 4 Bedford to Milton Keynes - Marston Vale
The opportunity involves creating the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway and also a green corridor (containing a cycle route) that includes access routes and links to adjacent green spaces.
proving access routes, including the south west section of the Bedford Green Wheel, Sustrans Route 51, Clay Way and Bunyan Trail.
Zone 5 Greensand Ridges Fringes
Improving attractive, safe access links for walkers and cyclists between Bedford and the strategic visitor attractions of thre Greensand Ridge, including Moggerhanger Park, Rowney Warren and Maulden Wood.
Zone 6 Bedford Northern Fringes
Creating walking, cycling and horse riding routes linking villages to the north of Bedford with the northern section of the Bedford Green Wheel.
AD26 Bedford River Valley Park - This policy includes opportunities for public access improvements during the creation of this park
AD27 Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway Park - This policy includes opportunities for public access improvements including a parallel cycle route during the creation of this park.
Cycling mentions for other specific sites are:
AD3 Land at Hall End Road Wootton
(vi) b. Pedestrian links through the residential part of the site to connect to adjacent development, including a shared use pedestrian/cycle link with Studley Road.
c. A pedestrian/cycle (toucan) crossing of Hall End Road to serve the school.
AD5 Wixams Northern Expansion
(xii) Improvements to transportation networks, including:
a. Pedestrian and cycle access to the A6 cycle route.
b. Contribution towards the provision of traffic lights on A421 junction to facilitate pedestrian and cycle movement.
AD6 Land South of Ford End Road
(viii) Improvements to transportation networks, including:
a. Provision of a cycle and pedestrian link between Sustrans Route 51 along the riverside and Ford End Road and provision for the safe crossing of Ford End Road.
AD7 Land East of Eastcotts Road
(v) b. Provision of a cycle and pedestrian link between Eastcotts Road and the northern boundary of the site and contributions to a link between the site and Cardington Road.
AD11 Land at Medbury Farm Elstow
(v) Provision of a green corridor incorporating a pedestrian and cycle route south of the A421 west/east from the A6 to Bumpy Lane and the A600.
(iX) a. Pedestrian and cycle links required from south of A421 and A6 into Bedford (north/south).
d. Contribution towards the provision of traffic lights on A421 junction to facilitate pedestrian and cycle movement.
AD12 Land at Bell Farm Kempston
(iii) Deliver a section of the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway Park incorporating canal, cycle and pedestrian paths (possibly Sustrans Route 51) through the site.
(ix) a. Pedestrian and cycle access to facilities west of Kempston and Wootton.
AD13 Marston Vale Innovation Park Phase 2, Wootton
(ii) Delivery of a section of the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway Park in association with Phase 1, incorporating canal, cycle and pedestrian paths (possibly Sustrans Route 51).
AD15 Manton Lane Reservoir Site
(iii) c. Investigate possibility of cycleway provision on Manton Lane.
AD16 Land West of Manton Lane
(v) b. Provide section of green access route (for pedestrian and cyclists) around north west of town.
e. Investigate possibility of cycleway provision on Manton Lane.
AD19 Land at Manton Lane
(iv) Improvements to pedestrian access and cycle network.
AD20 Land at Bedford Road, Great Barford
(iii) e. Improvements to pedestrian and cycle networks including crossing of Bedford Road.
AD23 Bedford River Valley Park Enabling Development
(v) Improvements to transportation networks, including a safe pedestrian and cycle crossing across the A603 linking with existing cycle and pedestrian routes.
AD29 Kempston District Centre – new retail facilities
Supported if (vi) The proposal will be accessible by a choice of means of transport other than the private car.
AD36 Pedestrian Routes
The council will require the protection, enhancement and promotion of pedestrian routes and facilities. The council will seek the provision of new pedestrian routes and facilities which are safe, convenient, attractive, and which link local facilities, particularly in association with major development and transportation proposals. The provision of routes which form part of the Green Wheel or other outdoor access routes, include safer routes to schools and include new river crossings at Honey Hill Road / Hillgrounds, adjacent to Britannia Ironworks, at Batts Ford and in the vicinity of Fenlake Meadows / Priory Park will be sought.
The current Local Transport Plan (LTP3) [Borough Document] was adopted in April 2011 and covers the period 2011-2021.
The plan contains a Vision for Transport in Bedford Borough
... to enable the people of the Borough, visitors and businesses to benefit from the opportunities that the Borough has to offer by working together to create a transport system which positions walking, cycling and public transport as the natural choices of travel for the majority of journeys because they are an affordable, healthy, convenient and safe alternative to the private car.
LTP3 has several objectives, which are generally in accordance with national and regional transport policy. These include: promoting greater equality of opportunity; providing opportunities for all residents to access key services and facilities; and encouraging and supporting a sustainable transport system that contributes to a healthy natural and urban environment.
The plan is covered by eight key strategies. Cycling (with walking) comes under the theme Active Travel Strategy although it is also an important aspect of three other themes; Sustainable Modes of Travel Strategy for Schools (SMOTS), Road Safety Strategy and Network Management Strategy.
Active Travel Key Actions:
• Provide targeted road safety training for pedestrians and cyclists;
• Undertake local promotional and marketing campaigns and events;
• Ensure active travel information is widely available to the public;
• Support the development of school, business, residential and individual travel plans;
• Improve the highway infrastructure to enhance the safety of and convenience for pedestrians and cyclists using the highway;
• Standardise, improve and update walking and cycling route signing;
• Develop a 'barrier' free cycling network to ensure continuity;
• Increase provision of well placed, secure and sufficient cycle parking;
• Improve the integration of public transport services (buses and trains) with walking and cycling routes.
Road Safety Key Actions :
• Develop a detailed programme of casualty reduction based engineering improvements, to include plans or work on rural roads;
• Work with communities through the community safety partnership to determine the best ways to deliver road safety education, training and publicity and to engage community road safety champions;
• Investigate the potential benefits of more widespread introduction of 20mph speed limits and zones.
SMOTS Actions specific to cycling:
• Encourage all educationa establishments to introduce and develop travel plans which are updated annually;
• Ensure that new developments are accompanied by travel plans as a compulsory element and are enforced through the planning system;
• All schools to be assessed for a 20mph speed limit and a programme devised to provide them with one except where it is impractical or unnecessary;
• Schools to have cycle parking in accordance with guidelines only where appropriate infrastructure exists to promote safe cycling.
LTP3 also seeks to provide the transport policies and infrastructure necessary to support major developments in the High Street, Town Centre West, Riverside North and Station Quarter areas. Major schemes include a proposed new crossing of the river (Batts Ford Bridge) and extension of the Bedford Western Bypass to connect the A428 and the A6 north-west of the town.
A Rights of Way Improvement Plan [Borough Document] for the period 2012-2017 was adopted during 2012.
The plan focuses on the Borough's rights of way network and includes actions to extend and enhance the network by:
• Reducing network fragmentation
• Linking, improving and extending the National Cycle Network Route 51 with the RoW network
• Implementing Green Wheel access improvements to achieve 20 kilometres of total route by 2017.
At the end of the 5 year plan period it will then be decided whether this document together with the Green Infrastructure Plan 2009 [Borough Document] and Green Space Strategy 2012-2021 [Borough Document]should be consolidated into a single, integrated right of way and green space document.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) [Full document], the most radical shake-up of the planning system in 60 years, was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 27 March 2012 and has condensed over 1,000 pages of previous legislation into a mere 50.
The NPPF sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and provides a framework of how these are expected to be applied by local authorities through their own distinctive local and neighbourhood plans. At the heart of the NPPF is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.
What does it say for Sustainable Transport:
Under Core Planning Principles, one of the 12 cited is to actively manage patterns of growth to make the fullest possible use of public transport, walking and cycling, and focus significant development in locations which are or can be made sustainable.
In delivering sustainable development, promoting sustainable transport calls for transport system needs to be balanced in favour of sustainable transport modes, giving people a real choice about how they travel. All developments that generate significant amounts of movement should be supported by a Transport Statement or Transport Assessment. Developments should be located and designed where practical to give priority to pedestrian and cycle movements, create safe and secure layouts which minimise conflicts between traffic and cyclists or pedestrians. A key tool to facilitate this will be a Travel Plan which will be required by all developments which generate significant amounts of movement.
Sustainable transport modes: Any efficient, safe and accessible means of transport with overall low impact on the environment, including walking and cycling, low and ultra low emission vehicles, car sharing and public transport.
Transport assessment: A comprehensive and systematic process that sets out transport issues relating to a proposed development. It identifies what measures will be required to improve accessibility and safety for all modes of travel, particularly for alternatives to the car such as walking, cycling and public transport and what measures will need to be taken to deal with the anticipated transport impacts of the development.
Transport statement: A simplified version of a transport assessment where it is agreed the transport issues arising out of development proposals are limited and a full transport assessment is not required.
Travel plan: A long-term management strategy for an organisation or site that seeks to deliver sustainable transport objectives through action and is articulated in a document that is regularly reviewed.
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