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What is planning

The Planning Team is responsible for looking at the natural and built environment of Bedford and determining what development is suitable for the borough at a given location and a given time.

Development is defined in law as the "carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or making any material change in the use of any buildings or other land". (s55.1 Town and Country Planning Act 1990).

We carry out the duties of a ‘local planning authority’ as required by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and other subsidiary legislation. These duties range from:

  • receiving and deciding planning applications on small house extensions or alterations to your home
  • negotiating large urban extensions or even new towns like Great Denham or the Wixams
  • setting out policies in Local Plans, a series of documents that looks at the current and future land use of the borough, taking out any necessary enforcement measures against unlawful developments
  • protecting the borough's historic environment

The aim is to protect the quality of our urban and rural areas and contribute to the well being and quality of life of Bedford residents by:

  • creating opportunities for development
  • conserving environmental quality
  • achieving sustainable development (fulfilling the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same)
  • promoting public participation
  • helping to protect the rights of the individual

We also seek to involve local residents and the business community in the process of planning.
This can take the form of commenting on planning applications, responding to a consultation on a particular planning document or reporting breaches of planning law and policy.

Public consultation is a key feature of the work of the service, ensuring that local needs and aspirations are taken fully into account.  Because planning affects peoples' property rights, it is a statutory function that sometimes takes on a quasi-legal style and complexity.

For more general information on planning, please see