Central Bedfordshire is a hub of thriving market towns at the heart of the UK’s motorway, rail and air networks, only 30 minutes from London. Substantial growth is planned for the area – the new Local Plan includes provisions for 20,000 new homes and 24,000 new jobs up to 2035.
Central Bedfordshire Council wants this growth to be sustainable and to support carbon neutrality in the area. It has prioritised climate action and is now aiming to demonstrate leadership for sustainable development in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To support this ambition, Useful Projects was commissioned to develop an innovative and creative Sustainability Plan for 2020-2030.
We started by conducting a baseline review to assess the work previously undertaken by the council, and to determine its sustainable organisational maturity. The baseline review and its key results were presented at a member’s workshop where members selected the top criteria to prioritise identified opportunities.
The Sustainability Plan was co-developed with officers and members. It sets out clear actions for taking forward the key opportunities, structured under four main sections: Council’s processes (embedding sustainability and enhancing capacity), Lead (leading by example on council buildings), Invest (facilitating investment in infrastructure), and Influence (influencing residents and businesses). The final section of the Sustainabilty Plan focuses on implementaiton and governance.
The Sustainability Plan has been very well received by the Council and local stakeholders. Following this work, Useful Projects has also developed a whole-life costing guidance for the Council and a guide on quantifying the tangible co-benefits delivered through sustainability. Useful Projects has also worked with the Council’s housing development company New Vista to create a sustainable design checklist to ensure sustainability is embedded in housing projects brought forward in the area. We are still working with the Council, acting as trusted advisors and helping them with the implementation of the Sustainability Plan.