Welcome to the Ravensden Neighbourhood Plan website. We hope these pages will give you the information you need about the Neighbourhood Plan and help you keep up to date as it evolves.
A local referendum will be held on Thursday 23rd February 2023. This will decide whether the Neighbourhood Plan should formally come into effect. If you are on the electoral roll for Ravensden, you are entitled to vote - please do so if you can.
Why a Neighbourhood Plan?
Communities throughout the country have been given the right to create their own neighbourhood plans to guide the way communities may change and be protected in the future. Ravensden Parish Council has decided to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan for the whole Parish. There is significant pressure for new housing in the Bedford area. Plans for up to 165 houses have recently been approved by Bedford Borough Council at Graze Hill in the south of the parish as an extension to the existing Woodlands Park estate in neighbouring Brickhill parish.
The Neighbourhood Plan must be based on the views of residents and other local stakeholders. When complete the Neighbourhood Plan will be used alongside Bedford Borough Council’s own Local Plan to determine planning applications, decide the locations for any new developments, and promote measures to protect and enhance key environmental and heritage features.
For more information on Neighbourhood Plans, go to the following link https://www.bedford.gov.uk/planning-and-building/planning-policy-its-purpose/neighbourhood-planning/
About Ravensden Parish
Ravensden is a civil parish located immediately north of the Bedford urban area adjoining Putnoe Wood, Mowsbury Park and the Woodlands Park housing development.
The Parish has distinctive rolling topography which has shaped the settlement pattern. In the south of the Parish is Cleat Hill where there are individually designed houses fronting the B660 Kimbolton Road. At the top of this hill but hidden by trees is Mowsbury Hillfort, a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Stretching out to the south and east is Mowsbury Golf Course.
The Cleat Hill/Graze Hill ridge affords panoramic views southwards over Bedford and northwards towards Sunderland Hill (topped with the iconic white water tower, near which is a green waste recycling facility) and also Church End with the ancient All Saints Church standing at the top of Church Hill.
The historic centre of the village is at Church End which consists of scattered pre-1914 dwellings mostly joined together by more modern frontage development and a close of houses leading to the village primary school. A popular public house, the Horse and Jockey, is located near the Church. The village hall sits at the bottom of Church Hill.
Ravensden Crossroads, where the B660 Bedford Road is met by Oldways Road and Butler Street/Thurleigh Road, is another focus for mainly frontage residential development. The village shop, garage and other commercial premises are located here. There is a small community of park homes at Wayside Farm Park, east of Bedford Road.
There are scattered farms and cottages along Graze Hill and at Wood End, with rolling agricultural land and blocks of woodland to the west of Sunderland Hill.
There are about 350 households in the Parish.
Who is on the Steering Group?
Steve Arnold – Local resident – Chair
Jane Ferguson – Parish Councillor – Secretary
Sue Jacobs – Parish Councillor – Treasurer
Alison Myers – Parish Councillor
Allan Schofield – Local resident
Colin Slade – Local resident
Dave Jacobs – Local resident
John Mabberley – Local resident
Alan Carvell – Local resident
Get involved in preparing the Plan for your parish
A Steering Group consisting of a number of Parish Councillors and local residents has been set up to help prepare the Neighbourhood Plan, and this meets regularly. The Plan will be developed based on responses to questionnaires received from residents, and dialogue with local businesses, landowners, and everyone who has a stake in the village. Technical reports and surveys will be commissioned. There will be meetings and drop-in sessions so everyone can have their say. The first round of consultations will be held in Spring 2020.
Grants are available to support Neighbourhood Plans and the Parish Council is applying for these.
After the designation of the Parish as a Neighbourhood Plan area in October 2019, work started on engaging with local residents and other stakeholders. In February and March 2020, we held two drop-in sessions which were very well attended.
A residents’ survey went out to every household in the parish and an exceptional level of response was obtained. The results are available under the Documents tab on this website.
A survey for local businesses was circulated.
Contact was made with many local interest groups and organisations, service providers, statutory consultees, landowners and adjacent parish councils to seek their views.
Working with Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity, a Green Infrastructure Survey and Local Greenspace Assessment was completed in mid-2021, detailing residents’ aspirations and priorities for protecting and enhancing our local environment and heritage. The document is available under the Green Infrastructure tab on this website.
A thorough assessment of potential housing sites was completed by the Steering Group in July 2021. This followed a nationally accepted appraisal process. The report is available under the Documents tab of this website.
In September/October 2021, there was a further round of public consultation on a draft vision and objectives for the Parish and into initial proposals for small scale housing sites, for Local Green Spaces, on the principle of Design Codes, on possible measures to protect/promote community/employment facilities, and on transport issues. All the ideas received significant majority support at a drop-in event and in responses to a residents’ questionnaire. We also contacted landowners for their views on the housing and Local Green Space proposals.
Consultants Aecom were retained to produce Design Codes to offer practical guidance on design and sustainability measures in new developments; and ideas to reinforce the identity of each of the localities in the parish and improve connections between them. This document was completed in November 2021 and can also be viewed on this website.
Based on the level of support given to the draft vision and objectives and the ideas for policies and proposals which could go into the Plan, we prepared a draft Neighbourhood Plan for Ravensden parish, which was open for public comment between 19th February and 4th April 2022. This is an obligatory formal step known as ‘pre- submission’ consultation (Regulation 14). The draft Neighbourhood Plan, relevant supporting documents and a survey questionnaire are available under the Documents tab. Feedback informed a final draft for submission to Bedford Borough Council (Regulation 15), along with all the other necessary documents, which were all sent to Bedford Borough Council in May 2022.
The other documents which were sent to the Borough Council, in accordance with legal requirements, were the Basic Conditions Statement, the Consultation Statement, the Strategic Environmental Assessment Screening Report, and the Habitats Regulations Screening Report. The Ravensden Design Codes were also submitted as part of the Plan. All these documents can be downloaded under the Documents tab.
Once they had received and checked all the submitted Documents, Bedford Borough Council carried out their own consultations (Regulation 16). Following this period of publicity, the Borough Council arranged an independent examination to check the plan is sound, the technical reports have been completed and legal guidelines have been met.
The Examiner sent a draft (“Fact Check”) report to the Borough and Parish Councils in September 2022 and once she had received comments back, issued a Final report with recommended modifications in November 2022. This is available under the Documents tab. Subject to those modifications, she recommended that the Neighbourhood Plan could go forward to referendum.
Bedford Borough Council issued their Post Examination Decision Statement (Regulation 18) in December 2022. They accepted all the modifications recommended by the Examiner.
The Neighbourhood Plan as amended is to be put to a local referendum within the Neighbourhood Plan area on 23rd February 2023.There needs to be a simple majority in favour of the Plan at the Referendum before it can formally come into effect. The Ravensden Neighbourhood Plan 2030 will then form part of the development plan for this part of the Borough (along with the Borough Local Plan), against which all planning applications will have to be considered.