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Planning FAQs

Do I need planning permission?

To have this checked you can do any of the following:

Will planning permission be granted for my development?

We cannot guarantee the outcome of your proposal until an application has been determined. To understand how we will assess your proposal you can request a pre-application enquiry.

Applicants must send in a description of the proposed development along with all appropriate plans / documents / statements which will enable a planning officer to answer the enquiry. There is a charge for this service (see Q4 below) and a response will be based on the information submitted.

Failure to submit the appropriate information may lead to a limited response from the planning officer and any subsequent enquiries sent will incur an additional fee.

If planning permission is granted when will it expire?

Planning permission is usually granted for a 3 year period however there are some exceptions. For example, some permissions are approved for a temporary period, so there may a condition restricting the duration of that particular permission. Also retrospective applications may not have any time limit imposed as the development would have already commenced. Prior Notifications have different time periods to expire please refer to the Decision Notices for details.

Who is exempt from pre-application fees?

Discussions relating to the discharge of the conditions attached to a full planning permission that has already been granted. (This exemption does not apply to discussions in respect of applications for Reserved Matters approval)

Enquiries from Parish Councils / Town Councils for their own developments and enquiries proposing development which will assist people with disabilities (basic option only). Requests for detailed advice or meetings a 50% reduction of the full fee is applicable.

Initial enquiries from registered charities (basic option only, if applicable within the charging schedule). All other requests will be charged the full fee.

To encourage inward investment and job creation, we will not charge for initial advice for proposals consisting of development wholly within Use Classes B1, B2, B8 (offices, R & D, industry, warehousing) or A1 (retail). For any subsequent enquiries the full fee is applicable.

An exemption will also apply in cases where a developer has already entered into a Planning Performance Agreement or similar formal agreement relating to staff resourcing with the local planning authority.

How much do you charge for pre-application enquiries?

Visit the page planning enquiries and go to 'step 4' for further information on fees for pre-applications.  

It is highly recommended that a Planning Performance Agreement is negotiated for developments over 200 dwellings or commercial development over 10,000 square metres. This allows a bespoke long-term service to be agreed at a reduced fee.

How long will you take to respond to my pre-application enquiry?

There are two main types of pre-application enquiry Fast Track and Detailed. We aim to deal with Fast Track enquiries within 14 days and for detailed enquiries within 28 days. Please note that the clock starts from the date the fee and all other relevant details are supplied, not from when it was submitted.

In some cases it may not be possible to deal with the enquiry within the above time scales. In these cases the case officer will contact the applicant to agree an acceptable extended time scale.

Is my property or land located within a conservation area?

Please refer to How to Guide 7 to view and check Planning Constraints on the map, alternatively you can call Customer Services and ask for the above to be checked, confirmation will be given verbally only. Written confirmation can only be provided via the pre-application process and is subject to a fee.

Is my property or building listed?

Call or visit the Customer Service Centre and ask for the above to be checked. Please note that confirmation will be given verbally only.

Written confirmation can only be provided via the pre-application process and is subject to a fee.

Have permitted development rights been removed or withdrawn from my property or land?

Please refer to How to Guide 7 to view and check Planning Constraints on the map, alternatively, call Customer Services and ask for the above to be checked, confirmation will be given verbally only. Written confirmation can only be provided via the pre-application process and is subject to a fee. For further information on Permitted Development refer to the planning enquiries page

Are there any tree preservation orders (TPO) on my land?

Please refer to How to Guide 7 to view and check Planning Constraints on the map. You can also view the TPO register here, guidance for viewing the TPO register is provided in How to Guide 3. You can call Customer Services and ask for the above to be checked, confirmation will be given verbally only. Written confirmation can only be provided via the pre-application process and is subject to a fee.

Where is the Customer Service Centre and what is the correct telephone number for planning questions?

The Customer Service Centre is situated within the old Civic Theatre building on Horne Lane. The full address is Horne Lane, Bedford, MK40 1NY or you can call 01234 718068.

How far can I extend my property without planning permission?

The Government allows for certain sized extensions to be built without having to obtain full planning permission. This is called permitted development. For information on permitted development please go to the following page for access to the interactive house.

Please note that in May 2013 the Government changed the allowances for extending residential properties. The following rules therefore apply:

Dwellings not in a conservation area can extend up to 8 metres from the rear wall of the original dwelling house for a detached property and up to 6 metres for all other properties (e.g. terraced, semi-detached etc.), provided that the extension is no more than 4 metres in height. All the other existing Permitted Development limits still apply. For example, you still can’t cover more than 50% of the garden (please see the interactive house for more information www.planningportal.gov.uk).

However please note that extensions between 4.1 metres and 8 metres on detached properties and 3.1 metres and 6 metres on all other properties MUST submit a prior notification BEFORE starting any works, this is so we can notify your neighbours. There is no charge for this notification. To access the form please go to www.bedford.gov.uk/planningforms

I need to submit a planning application, how do I do this?

There are several ways in which you can submit a planning application.

I would like to have my planning application checked before submitting it. How do I do this?

Unfortunately we are no longer able to provide this service. We provide validation information with each application, so you are able to check your own submissions here, however a formal check will not be carried out until the Validation Officer receives your application. If anything is missing we will contact you.

How much is a planning application?

For the full fee list please see apply for planning permission page 

How can I view or comment on a planning application or view a decision notice?

Go to Search plans page and refer to the step by step 'How to Guides'.

How can I find out what applications have been submitted recently?

View the application lists

Permitted development rights have been removed from my property. What does this mean?

Permitted development is development where the Government has given prior approval so you do not need to apply through your Local Planning Authority in order to build it. However, sometimes certain permitted development rights are removed from properties because allowing this level of development could have a harmful impact on the area or neighbouring properties if built. This allows the local planning authority to maintain control over this level of development so that the character of the area and neighbour amenity can be protected.

If permitted development has been removed from your property it means you may need to make a planning application for something that would not ordinarily require the submission of a planning application. There is no fee applicable for these applications (provided they are deemed to be permitted development in the first place). An assessment will then be made as to whether the proposed development would have a harmful impact on the area or neighbouring properties.

I think someone is building something without planning permission. How do I report this?

Please complete the enforcement investigation form 

My neighbour has applied for planning permission and I wish to make a comment. How do I do this?

Please refer to www.bedford.gov.uk/searchplans to view the application and make a comment please refer to the 'How To Guides' for assistance and read ‘Guide 5’ before making a comment. Please make sure you state your full name, address and the relevant application number.

How can I find out about the Planning Committee and Right to Speak scheme?

Please click on the following link for the full information relating to the Planning Committee www.bedford.gov.uk/environment_and_planning/planning_town_and_country/view_applications_plans__docs/planning_committee.aspx      

How can I find out what decision was made at committee?

Please go to www.bedford.gov.uk/searchplans and click on the link 'View and comment on planning applications', type in the application number and click on search. Alternatively, you can call 01234 718068 and ask what decision was made on a certain application.

How will CIL affect my planning application?

For full information on CIL please click on the following link www.bedford.gov.uk/CIL If you need specific information relating to CIL you will need to complete a pre-application enquiry.

Do we have a 5 year housing land supply and housing trajectory?

Bedford Borough Council does have a five year supply of deliverable housing sites. More information can be found in the monitoring section of the Planning Policy web pages here.

Do we have an up to date strategic housing market assessment?     

A Strategic Housing Market Assessment for Bedfordshire and Luton (covering administrative areas of what are now three former Bedfordshire unitary Councils of Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton) was published in 2010. The study can be viewed  on our Allocations and designations page.

Do we have a strategic housing land availability assessment?

The Council’s most recent Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment can be found at http://www.bedford.gov.uk/environment_and_planning/planning_town_and_country/
planning_policy__its_purpose/technical_reports.aspx

What has been the progress on preparing local plans or supplementary planning documents?

The planning policy documents that will be prepared together with a timetable for preparation are set out in the Council’s Local Development Scheme. The Council regularly updates the planning policy pages when key milestones in plan preparation are achieved, for instance when draft documents are published for consultation or documents are formally adopted.  You can find out further information about how and when the Council publicises progress made on different types of planning policy documents in Statement of Community Involvement. To view the Local Development Scheme, Statement of Community Involvement and to find out about the progress made in preparing specific documents please visit www.bedford.gov.uk/planningpolicy  

If you would like to be notified in writing about progress made in preparing planning policy documents, you can ask to be included into the planning policy database by sending an email to planningpolicy@bedford.gov.uk or calling 01234 718070. 

I am interested in purchasing a property or land will the land surrounding the site ever be developed?  

In order to see if land surrounding your property has been allocated or designated for a specific use you need to check our Policies Map. To find the maps please click on the following link www.planvu.co.uk

Please note that if there is no allocation or designation on the land you are interested in then this is a reflection of the current development plan, the situation may change in the future. For more information on Bedford Borough Council’s planning policy documents please click on the following link www.bedford.gov.uk/planningpolicy 

What is your affordable housing policy?   

On sites of 15 units and over (or 0.5ha and over) the council will expect the provision of 30% affordable housing. This also applies to development sites of 3 dwellings or more (or 0.1ha and over) in villages with a population of less than 3,000. Affordable housing provision should normally be made on-site. Affordable housing requirements are set out in Policy CP8 Affordable Housing in the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan 2008. This can be found at www.bedford.gov.uk/planningpolicy 

What are your policies on out of town new retail floorspace?

The Council’s policy approach reflects the National Planning Policy Framework requirements that new retail floorspace should be located (as a preference) within existing town centres. Out of centre proposals must demonstrate that there are no suitable town centre or edge of centre sites available (the sequential test) and, for larger developments, that there would be no significant adverse impact on town centres (the impact test).

Relevant Council policies include Policy CP20 (Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan), Policies TC1 – TC4 (Bedford Town Centre Area Action Plan) and Policies SH12 – SH17 (Bedford Local Plan 2002). All of these documents are available via the following link www.bedford.gov.uk/planningpolicy (Note that these policies are being reviewed in the Local Plan 2032).

What are your parking standards or any other supplementary guidance?

 All our supplementary guides are available via the following link http://www.bedford.gov.uk/environment_and_planning/planning_town_and_country/
planning_policy__its_purpose/publications_list.aspx

For Highway documents please go to: www.bedford.gov.uk/environment_and_planning/planning_town_and_country/highways__transport_issues/highways_design_guides.aspx if the document you require is not available please contact 01234 718070.

Can I change the use of my business or property without planning permission?  

In most cases planning permission is required to change the use however in May 2013 the Government brought in legislation which allows a temporary change of use to take place for 2 years. The change of use only applies to properties which are defined as A1 (retail), A2 (financial & professional services), A3 (cafes & restaurants), A4 (drinking establishments), A5 (hot food take away), B1 (office), D1 (non-residential institutions) or D2 (assembly & leisure). These properties can change to an A1, A2, A3 or B1 use class providing the floor space does not exceed 150 square metres and it is not a listed building.

Before the use is started an e-mail must be sent to Bedford Borough Council with the following details: Full address of the property where the use will be carried out, the last known use of the property, the intended use for the property and the date you wish to start. We will then start the 2 year temporary use from the date of the email.

After the 2 year period a planning application will be required to continue the use otherwise it will revert back to the original use.

I wish to change my office building into residential flats. What do I need to do?     

In May 2013 the Government introduced an amendment to the General Permitted Development Order which allows a change of use from B1 Offices to C3 residential without the need for full planning permission. To access the forms and details refer to Planning applications forms page and How to Guide no 14. You should be aware that your development may still be subject to CIL. For more information please question regarding CIL above.

What does the Minerals and Waste Team do and how do they operate?  

Bedford Borough Council is a minerals and waste planning authority. The service is provided by the Minerals and Waste Team based at Central Bedfordshire Council.

The Minerals and Waste Team is responsible for the control of mineral extraction and waste management developments, through forward planning, determining planning applications, monitoring and enforcement.

You can contact the Minerals and Waste Team on 0300 300 6039 or email MWApplications@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

What constitutes “Mineral” development?

Mineral related development is defined in Schedule 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 . This schedule includes the obvious such as the winning and working of minerals and erection of mineral processing plants. But also the less obvious such as the use of land for aggregates railheads; and the erection of concrete batching plants.

Mineral working is different from other forms of development in that:

  • extraction can only take place where the mineral occurs in sufficient quantity and the desired quality
  • mineral operations can have significant, cumulative environmental impacts, but these can be controlled
  • it is not a permanent use of land, even though operations may take place over a long period of time
  • when mineral working ceases, a well-restored site may provide new and diverse environmental, amenity or development assets

What constitutes “Waste” development?

Waste related development is defined in The Town and Country Planning (Prescription of County Matters) (England) Regulations 2003 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2003/1033/made) as :-

(a)   (i) the use of land;

(ii) the carrying out of building, engineering or other operations; or

(iii) the erection of plant or machinery used or proposed to be used,

wholly or mainly for the purposes of recovering, treating, storing, processing, sorting, transferring or depositing of waste;

(b)   the use of land or the carrying out of operations for any purposes ancillary to any use or operations specified in paragraph (a) above, including the formation, laying out, construction or alteration of a vehicular access to any public highway.

There is no definition of “waste” in the Planning Act. The term is however, defined in the EU Waste Framework Directive as “…any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard…”.

Working by this definition many items can be considered as waste from household rubbish, packaging items, discarded vehicles, old electrical items, garden waste etc.

Such a large variety of wastes arising from different sources creates significant challenges as they often have to be managed in many different ways and in such a way that it does not cause any harm to either human health or to the environment.

In most cases, deciding whether a proposal involves the management of waste is relatively straightforward i.e. it is clear that a site would be receiving a substance or object that is being discarded by its holder. However, in some cases, the decision is more difficult particularly when the substance or object still has a value or a potential use. It may also prove difficult to decide when a waste has been fully recovered or recycled to the extent that it ceases to be waste.

To help decide if a proposal involves the management of waste, Defra has recently published a practical guide which includes a flow chart that can be used to determine if a substance or object being managed is a waste. www.defra.gov.uk/publications/2012/08/20/pb13813-legal-def-waste

Examples of waste management development include:

  • Landfill and land raising
  • Landfill gas generation plant
  • Energy-from-Waste, pyrolysis, gasification and other waste incineration
  • Material recovery/recycling facilities
  • Mechanical and Biological Treatment Plants
  • In vessel composting / open windrow composting
  • Anaerobic Digestion Plants
  • Household Waste Recycling Centres
  • Transfer stations / storage of waste
  • Sewage treatment plants
  • Aggregates recycling facility

How do I submit a planning application for mineral or waste development?       

See how to submit a planning application for minerals or waste development within Bedford Borough 

Prior to making an application, pre-application advice can be obtained from the Minerals and Waste Team. Charges apply to this service depending on the level of advice required. Full details can be found on the Do I need planning permission page via the following link:- 

How can I view minerals and waste planning applications and decision notices?

View the ‘How To Guides’ for a step by step guide 

How do I report suspected breaches of planning control at minerals and waste sites?

Make use of the ‘Planning Enforcement Investigation’ form and provide as much background information as possible.

If you have any general concerns at these types of sites in the Bedford area then email MWApplications@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk or phone 0300 300 6619.

Enquiries related to fly-tipping either within the highway or on private land are not handled and will be forwarded to the appropriate section for their attention.

What development plan policies are relevant to minerals and waste development?

  • The Saved General and Environmental Policies contained in the Bedfordshire and Luton Minerals and Waste Local Plan (2005). 
  • The Minerals and Waste Policies contained in the Minerals and Waste Local Plan Strategic Sites and Policies (2014).

The MWLP (2005) and the MWLP:SSP (2014) are available to download from the Central Bedfordshire Website here:

www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/planning/minerals-and-waste/development-framework.aspx  

Policies contained in Bedford Borough Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan (2008) and the Allocations and Designations Local Plan (2013) as well as the Saved policies contained within the Bedford Local Plan (2002) can also be relevant to minerals and waste development.

Download these documents here:

The Saved General and Environmental Policies contained in the Bedfordshire and Luton Minerals and Waste Local Plan (2005)

The “Minerals and Waste Local Plan: Strategic Sites and Policies” (2014) identifies strategic mineral sites and four strategic waste sites within the Bedford Borough (BBC) and Central Bedfordshire (CBC) area. These have been listed as follows:

Strategic Waste Sites

  • Elstow North (BBC)
  • Land at Former Brogborough Landfill (CBC)
  • Rookery Pit South (CBC and BBC)
  • Land at Thorn Turn (CBC)


Strategic Mineral Sites

  • Blunham/Roxton (CBC and BBC)
  • Black Cat (BBC)
  • Willowhill Farm (CBC and BBC)
  • Willington Lock (CBC and BBC)
  • Bridge Farm (BBC)
  • Land south of Broom Village (CBC)
  • Land at Clipstone Brook (CBC)

Further information on the locations of these sites is available to download from the Central Bedfordshire website by clicking on the link below then the “MWLP:SSP – Adopted Plan” tab then “Policies Map Location Plan” or “Inset Maps 1-8” tabs. www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/planning/minerals-and-waste/development-framework.aspx

What is mineral safeguarding and how could this affect my proposed development?

Bedford Borough contains minerals of economic importance (River Valley/Glacial Sand and Gravel, Cornbrash Limestone and Oxford Clay). It is important that these minerals and not needlessly sterilised by surface development.

The “Minerals and Waste Local Plan: Strategic Sites and Policies” (2014) contains two policies which aim to prevent the needless sterilisation of minerals of economic importance – “MWP11: Mineral Resource Assessment” and “MWP12: Surface Development within a Mineral Safeguarding Area”.

You can download a copy of the MWLP:SSP (2014) and “Policies Map Location Plan” which shows the extent of the Mineral Safeguarding Areas by clicking on the following link then the “MWLP:SSP – Adopted Plan” tab:-  www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/planning/minerals-and-waste/development-framework.aspx

If your proposed development falls within a Mineral Safeguarding Area and can not be classified as one of the types of developments:

  • Extensions of existing buildings within their curtilage;
  • Infilling development except for proposals within 250 metres of an existing permission for mineral extraction/waste disposal;
  • Minor development (such as walls, gates, accesses);
  • Individual residential caravans for a period of less than 5 years;
  • Amendments to previously approved developments;
  • Applications for Listed Building Consent;
  • Changes of Use (except where further built development is proposed)

A Minerals Resource Assessment will need to be undertaken by a suitably qualified professional. The Mineral Resource Assessment should establish whether or not minerals of economic importance exist. 

Policy MSP12 lists the circumstances in which surface development within a MSA may be permitted:

  • The mineral concerned is proven to be of no economic value as a result of the undertaking of the Mineral Resource Assessment
  • The development will not inhibit extraction if required in the future
  • The mineral can be extracted prior to the development taking place.

What makes up the statutory development plan for Bedford Borough?

The statutory development plan is made up of:

  • Some remaining ‘saved’ policies from the Bedford Borough Local Plan (adopted 2002)
  • The Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan (adopted 2008)
  • Bedford Town Centre Area Action Plan (adopted 2008)
  • The Allocations and Designations Local Plan (adopted 2013)
  • Saved Policies in the Minerals and Waste Local Plan (adopted 2005)
  • Minerals and Waste Local Plan: Strategic Sites and Policies (adopted 2014)
  • The Policies Map. These documents can be found on the Council’s website. A link on the left of the page takes you to Minerals and Waste plans.

Policy Statement Update - Housing Standards

Bedford Borough Council's policies for the standards expected of new housing development are set out in various policy documents here.

From 1 October 2015 standards for accessibility, water efficiency and energy efficiency should be interpreted in line with the Government's new technical standards for housing. More information can be found in the Policy Statement Update - Housing Standards document

What is mobility housing?

Mobility housing incorporates design features which benefit everyone, regardless of age or disability. The Borough Council has published guidelines for such dwellings in documents entitled Mobility Housing and Policy Statement Update - Housing Standards

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