South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18)

5 Settlement Strategy

Overview

5.1 The settlement strategy guides the overall delivery of housing and economic growth in South Somerset. This includes two key elements:

  • A hierarchy of settlements identified on the basis of their current and potential role and function, with future growth concentrated in the larger more sustainable locations; and
  • An established scale of growth for housing and employment and associated land uses for the main settlements identified in the hierarchy.

Settlement Hierarchy for South Somerset

5.2 The Local Plan identifies the quantity and location of new development over the Plan period to 2036. This includes allocations for both housing and employment growth.

5.3 This Plan is based upon a statistical analysis of the employment, housing, retail and community use provision within settlements. In conjunction, evidence of sustainable travel opportunities and the relationship between where people live and work (self-containment) is also taken into account. The South Somerset Role and Function Study[1]  identified a hierarchy of 14 main settlements:

Figure 5.1. Settlement Hierarchy in adopted Local Plan 2006-2028

Strategically Significant Town

Yeovil

Primary Market Towns

Chard

Crewkerne

Ilminster

Wincanton

Local Market Towns

Ansford and Castle Cary

Langport and Huish Episcopi

Somerton

Rural Centres

Bruton

Ilchester

Martock and Bower Hinton

Milborne Port

South Petherton

Stoke sub Hamdon

Rural Settlements

Settlements that meet the criteria for Policy SS2

 

5.4 The Issues and Options consultation document identified that development in Rural Settlements has made a significant contribution to housing delivery in South Somerset and more homes have been delivered in these locations than the settlement strategy envisaged. Larger Rural Settlements appear to be the focus for most development but there are also significant commitments in other smaller locations.

5.5 Option 5.2(c) considered the introduction of a ‘Villages’ category of settlement where a specific level of growth could be focused on more sustainable settlements and reduce the pressure on the smaller settlements which meet the criteria for adopted Local Plan Policy SS2.

5.6 The Council has carried out an assessment of Rural Settlements in order to determine if any have the potential to be designated Villages and as such have an identified level of growth[2] . The assessment takes a staged approach which takes into account factors that are thought to contribute to the sustainability of settlement.

Stage One/ Level 1 Criteria:

  • Size of existing population and number of dwellings.
  • The level of existing community services.
  • Whether opportunities for housing and employment growth have been identified.

Stage Two/ Level 2 Criteria:

  • Existing employment levels.
  • Accessibility by road, bus and rail.
  • Apparent attractiveness to the housing and employment market
  • Flood risk.
  • The presence of Best and Most Versatile (BMV) agricultural land.
  • Ecological designations.
  • Conservation Areas.

5.7 Undertaking this assessment has provided the opportunity to reassess the status of Stoke sub Hamdon within the settlement hierarchy. Stoke sub Hamdon is the smallest of the Rural Centres; the settlement has very limited scope for growth due to landscape constraints including the presence of Ham Hill Country Park and the number of commercial outlets in the centre is relatively restricted. This means that it is more appropriately designated as a Village than a Rural Centre.

5.8 The assessment concludes that there are 12 settlements (including Stoke sub Hamdon) which emerge as the most sustainable locations for development due to their performance against the criteria set out above, these are:

  1. Abbas and Templecombe
  2. Broadway and Horton
  3. Charlton Adam and Charlton Mackrell
  4. Combe St Nicholas
  5. Curry Rivel
  6. Henstridge
  7. Keinton Mandeville
  8. North Cadbury
  9. Queen Camel
  10. Sparkford
  11. Stoke sub Hamdon
  12. Tatworth

5.9 The hierarchy set out in Policy SS1 forms the basis of the Local Plan Review. The majority of the growth outside Yeovil should be in the Market Towns and Rural Centres in order to utilize the available employment and service opportunities, minimize the infrastructure investment required across the District, and increase the level of self-containment.

5.10 A Sustainability Appraisal of alternative settlement strategy options has been undertaken to ensure that the strategy is appropriate in terms of environmental, economic and social implications.

 

POLICY SS1 - SETTLEMENT STRATEGY

i. Principal Town: Yeovil is the main focus for development in South Somerset.

ii. The following are Market Towns where provision will be made for housing, employment, shopping and other services. These measures will increase their self-containment and enhance their roles as service centres:

Primary Market Towns: Chard, Crewkerne, Ilminster and Wincanton.

Local Market Towns: Ansford and Castle Cary, Langport and Huish Episcopi and Somerton.

iii. The following are Rural Centres which are settlements with a local service role, provision for development will be made that meets local housing need, extends local services and supports economic activity appropriate to the scale of the settlement:

Rural Centres: Bruton, Ilchester, Martock and Bower Hinton, Milborne Port and South Petherton.

iv. The following are Villages where provision will be made for limited development to meet local need, support local services and economic activity appropriate to the scale of the settlement:

Villages: Abbas and Templecombe, Broadway and Horton, Charlton Adam and Charlton Mackrell, Combe St Nicholas, Curry Rivel, Henstridge, Keinton Mandeville, North Cadbury, Queen Camel, Sparkford, Stoke-sub-Hamdon and Tatworth.

v. Rural Settlements: In Rural Settlements where Policy SS4 applies, development will be restricted.

vi. Countryside: Development within and outside of Rural Settlements where Policy SS4 does not apply will be limited to that for which a countryside location is essential or  where it is in accordance with Policies EP4 and EP5.

1. Settlement Role and Function Study, Baker Associates (April 2009) [back]
2. The Potential of Rural Settlements to be Designated ‘Villages’, December 2018 [back]

Yeovil

5.11 The evidence base states that Yeovil remains the principal settlement within South Somerset. This is because of the size and scale of housing supply and economic activity, the extent of travel to work patterns and retail catchments and the extent of leisure, cultural, and transport services. Consequently, most new development is proposed at Yeovil.

5.12 Yeovil can deliver further development sustainably and promote a better balance between jobs and growth where people choose to live. A critical mass, economies of scale and better use of existing infrastructure can be secured through Yeovil's continued designation as the primary focus for growth in this Local Plan Review.

5.13 Yeovil already acts as the focal point for economic activity in the District and has good manufacturing links with high tech industries and advanced engineering, building upon the strong links to the aeronautical industry. Growth in these sectors and in green technologies features prominently in the HOSW Local Economic Partnership’s proposals for the town as defined in the Strategic Economic Plan and Growth Deal.

Market Towns

5.14 Outside Yeovil, there is to be more limited growth in other larger settlements. These are identified as Market Towns and Rural Centres and act as focal points for their area.

5.15 Market Towns should provide locally significant development and meet the following criteria:

  • Have an existing concentration of business and employment with potential for expansion.
  • Have shopping, cultural, faith, educational, health and public services.
  • Have sustainable transport potential.

5.16 Classifying a place as a ‘Market Town’ has been achieved through identifying the range of important roles a settlement fulfills in its local setting. Most notably, whether it provides jobs and services for its residents, and the residents of the surrounding areas and elsewhere[3] . These towns are the focal points for locally significant development including the bulk of the District’s housing provision outside Yeovil. This growth aims to increase the self- containment of these settlements and enhance their service roles, reflecting the aspirations of national policy in promoting stronger communities.

5.17 The types of Market Town differ across the District owing to their current level of services, facilities and economic activity. Therefore, two tiers of market town have been identified: Primary Market Towns and Local Market Towns. The scale of future growth allocated to these two tiers is proportionate, with the larger Primary Market Towns planned to receive a higher level of growth, and the smaller Local Market Towns a lower level of growth. The specific amounts are set out in Policy SS2.

3. Settlement Role and Function Study, Baker Associates (April 2009) [back]

Rural Centres

5.18 The Rural Centres act as focal points for the surrounding area for retail and community service provision and in some instances have an employment role. The strategy requires these places to accommodate some housing and employment growth. Community facilities and services which meet the needs of the settlements and surrounding areas, are also encouraged.

Villages

5.19 New housing has been delivered in the Rural Settlements far in excess of what the Local Plan anticipated. Similarly, new commercial buildings have predominantly been provided away from the established employment locations and sites that have been allocated for that purpose. Rather than continue with this somewhat arbitrary trend, the Local Plan Review offers the opportunity to review the various smaller settlements around the District and to ascertain which may offer the best and most sustainable locations for limited growth and designation as ‘Villages’.

5.20 Villages are settlements which are considered to be sustainable locations for small scale growth. This definition is a result of having undertaken an assessment of a number of larger Rural Settlements. The assessment has followed a methodology taking account of the level of community services, population mass, employment opportunities, level of accessibility and constraints that currently exist (as at October 2018)[4] .

5.21 The Villages do not have identified development areas but growth is expected to take place adjacent to the existing built settlement.

4. The Potential of Rural Settlements to be Designated ‘Villages’, December 2018 [back]

Rural Settlements

5.22 The NPPF promotes sustainable development in rural areas, with housing and employment to be located where it enhances or maintains the vitality of rural communities.

5.23 Rural Settlements are considered as locations where there will be a presumption against development unless key sustainability criteria can be met. This is explained in Policy SS4. These settlements do not have identified development areas but are locations where some limited development could help to create more sustainable settlements which better cater for the needs of the existing and future residents.

5.24 Future delivery of housing and economic activity in rural locations needs to carefully balance the sustainment of communities against the protection and enhancement of the rural environment. The rural lifestyle provided by the many small villages and hamlets in South Somerset is one of the unique qualities of the District, and in turn, creates a range of challenges and opportunities that require delicate management.

5.25 Evidence indicates that rural areas experience higher property prices and have associated issues with housing affordability. These areas are usually populated by an increasingly aged population and can suffer from socio-economic disadvantages stemming from rural isolation, a low-wage economy and poor transport (especially public transport) links. At the same time, these areas provide attractive, tranquil environments prompting a higher quality of life, support diverse and innovative economic activity, and foster a strong sense of community.

5.26 The NPPF[5]  expects planning policies for rural areas to be responsive to local circumstances, support housing developments that reflect local needs, and support opportunities to bring forward rural exception sites which will provide affordable housing to meet local needs.

5.27 Furthermore, it is important that planning does not pre-determine the future of rural communities by only assessing communities as they are now and not what they could be. In too many places, this approach writes off rural communities in a ‘sustainability trap’ where development can only occur in places already considered to be in narrow terms ‘sustainable’. The question that should be asked is: “how will development add to or diminish the sustainability of this community?”. This requires a better balance of social, economic, and environmental factors to form a long -term vision for all scales of communities.

5. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 77 [back]

Countryside

5.28 Isolated new homes in the countryside will be resisted unless the special circumstances set out in the NPPF[6]  and Policies HG7 and HG8 are met.

5.29 The NPPF supports the sustainable growth and expansion of existing business in rural areas, this includes through conversion of existing buildings or well-designed new ones; conversion and diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses; sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments in keeping with the countryside; and the retention of accessible local services and facilities[7] . This is supported by Policies SS4, EP4 and EP5 in this Local Plan Review.

5.30 The NPPF recognises that sites to meet local business and community needs in rural areas may have to be found adjacent to or beyond existing settlements and in locations that are not well served by public transport.[8] .

5.31 When proposing a non-agriculture related greenfield development for business or community use in a countryside location, which is away from an existing settlement; applicants will be expected to justify why that location is essential. Applicants will also be expected have first explored opportunities of previously developed land or through the conversion of existing agricultural buildings elsewhere in the District.

6. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 79 [back]
7. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 83 [back]
8. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 84 [back]

Scale of Growth - Housing

5.32 The standard methodology as set out in the planning practice guidance[9]  has been used to calculate the annual local housing need figure set out in this document. The starting point for the calculations are the national household growth projections for South Somerset and an affordability ratio is then applied to determine the annual number of homes needed.

5.33 The Government has confirmed that, for the time being, the 2014-based household projections should be used as the baseline for determining local housing need[10] . In the longer term, central government intends to review the formula with a view to providing greater stability and certainty for Councils and communities. This future improved formula should also ensure that the methodology responds to household projections and price signals as well as ensuring that planning policy supports a housing market that works for everyone.

5.34 Figure 5.2 sets out the component parts of the calculation of the local housing need figure for South Somerset using the standard method and using the 2014-based household projections as the starting point and the most recently published affordability ratio (March 2019)

Figure 5.2: Calculation of Minimum Annual Housing Need for South Somerset (2014-based household projections)

 

Annual Households (2019-2029)

Affordability Ratio 2019

Adjustment Factor

Plus 1

Annual average housing growth

Minimum Annual Local Housing Need

Overall Minimum Local Housing Need for 10 year period

Overall Minimum Local Housing Need for 20 year period

Components of the calculation

5,675

8.19

0.261875

1.261875

567.5

716.1140625

7161.140625

14,322.28125

Notes

Difference = 5,675 (80,234-74,559)

Table 5C (2019 affordability ratio)

(8.19 - 4)/4 x 0.25

0.261875 + 1

5,675/10

1.261875 X 567.5

716.1140625 x 10

7161.140625 x 2

 

5.35 The 2014-based calculation results in an overall housing requirement of at least 14,322 (rounded) dwellings over a 20 year plan period and a minimum annual local housing need figure of 716 (rounded) dwellings.

5.36 Once adopted, the annual local housing need figure will be the target against which the Council will be judged for the purposes of the Housing Delivery Test (HDT)[11] . The Council will be expected to maintain a five-year supply of housing land in accordance with the NPPF.[12]

5.37 Policy SS2 identifies levels of growth which provide for housing in excess of the minimum local housing need target of 14,322 new homes. This is in order to allow for a level of flexibility as the Local Plan Review progresses, to avoid having to carry out additional consultation if levels of growth need to be adjusted, or if, through the consultation process, it becomes clear that a site is no longer deemed to be deliverable. Subsequently, the Council may wish to consider identifying some of the sites as ‘reserve sites’ where development would be directed first, should it be in the position where it is unable to identify a five-year supply of housing land.

9. 20 February 2019 [back]
10. Government response to the technical consultation on updates to national policy guidance, February 2019 [back]
11. Housing Delivery Test Rule Book, July 2018.  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/728523/HDT_Measurement_Rule_Book.pdf [back]
12. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 73. [back]

Distribution of Housing Growth

5.38 The distribution of housing will be in accordance with Policy SS1. This results in the majority of housing being directed towards Yeovil as the Principal Town in the District, followed by a smaller amount in each of the Market Towns, and then a lesser allocation for each of the Rural Centres. An overall housing target is identified for the Villages and Rural Settlements. Decisions on how much and where development will take place in a Rural Settlement should be determined in conjunction with the aims of Policy SS4.

5.39 The rate of delivery of new homes in Yeovil has been identified as an issue in terms of maintaining a constant supply of new homes. This is largely due to the fact that large urban extensions take longer to masterplan and advance through the planning application process resulting in delays in delivery. As a way of addressing this, the Local Plan Review sees a lower proportion of the overall growth being directed towards Yeovil than in the adopted Local Plan, reducing the proportion from 47% to 33%.

5.40 The focus nationally on the delivery of new homes and the introduction of the new Housing Delivery Test means that the Local Plan Review needs to focus on a wider choice of development sites in terms of location and size in order to help improve the prospect of maintaining a five-year housing land supply. This is reflected in the levels of growth apportioned to the different settlement categories.

5.41 The evidence used to inform the apportionment of housing growth for each of the settlements includes but is not limited to: The Strategic Housing Market Assessment, the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, economic growth projections, the Infrastructure Delivery Plan, the Authority Monitoring Report, existing housing commitments, and settlement-specific documents such as the Chard Regeneration Framework as well as on-going regeneration plans for Chard and Wincanton and relevant Neighborhood Plans. In simple terms, the overall strategy distributes housing growth for South Somerset between 2016 and 2036, as set out below:

Figure 5.3: Distribution of housing growth by settlement category as compared to the adopted Local Plan

Settlement Type

Number of Settlements of that Type

Overall Percentage of Growth in adopted Local Plan (%)

Overall Percentage of Growth in Local Plan Review Preferred Options (%)

Percentage of growth per settlement in Local Plan Review Preferred Options (%)

Principal Town

1

47%

33%

33.00%

Primary Market Towns

4

25%

29%

7.25%

Local Market Towns

3

7%

11%

3.66%

Rural Centres

5

7%

8%

1.60%

Villages

12

N/A

8%

0.67%

Rural Settlements (that qualify as at October 2018)

23

14%

11%

0.48%

 

5.42 The overall scale of growth and the wider policy framework requires an emphasis upon maintaining the established settlement hierarchy and ensuring sustainable levels of growth for all settlements. 

Housing Allocations

5.43 Allocations for housing development have been made in Yeovil, the Market Towns and in Rural Centres and are shown in each of the relevant settlement sections of this document.

5.44 These allocations will make a significant contribution towards delivering the overall requirement for new homes in the most sustainable locations in accordance with the strategic approach set out in this Local Plan Review.

Housing Requirements for Neighbourhood Plans

5.45 There are seven designated neighborhood areas within South Somerset. At the time of writing, three Neighborhood Plans have been ‘made’[13]  and others are at various stages of development. Figure 5.4 shows where each Neighborhood Plan is in the process of being created.

Figure 5.4 Progress of Neighbourhood Plans in South Somerset

Neighbourhood Plan

Progress

Wincanton

Made

South Petherton

Made

East Coker

Made

Castle Cary and Ansford

Examination completed progressing to Referendum[14]

Queen Camel

In progress

Martock and Bower Hinton

In progress

Ilminster

In progress

 

5.46 The NPPF says that local plans should set a housing requirement for designated neighborhood areas. Because of their status in the settlement hierarchy most of the designated neighborhood areas are given a specific housing requirement in Policy SS2.

5.47 Queen Camel is identified as a Village in the settlement hierarchy and, as such, its housing requirement falls within the Village’s overall target. The emerging neighbourhood plan is seeking to deliver around 2 to 2.5 homes per year, a total of 35-40 dwellings in the period 2018 to 2034. The Local Plan Review is proposing 1,314 new homes in Villages once the number of completions (as at 31st March 2018) and commitments (as at 31st March 2018) are taken away from that total. There remains 722 homes to be delivered. There are twelve Villages in total and when divided equally this equates to 60 dwellings per Village over the Local Plan Review Period of 2016-2036. Therefore, on this basis, there is a housing requirement of 60 dwellings for Queen Camel over the twenty year period, this would equate to 3 new homes a year.

5.48 Given the parishes relationship with the built-up area of Yeovil, the East Coker Neighbourhood Area is more complicated. Policy ECH1 of the East Coker Neighbourhood Plan identifies a housing requirement of 54 new dwellings over the period April 2011 to March 2028; this target excludes the Yeovil South Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) at Keyford, Policy YV2. The Local Plan Review includes a proposed allocation to extend the Keyford SUE to the south to accommodate an additional 200 dwellings. It is proposed that this too should be excluded from the neighbourhood area target.

5.49 As East Coker, combined with North Coker, meets the criteria to qualify as a Rural Settlement under Local Plan Review Policy SS4, it is proposed that the housing requirement for the East Coker neighbourhood area is 38 dwellings.

5.50 The justification for this is that the proposed overall target for Rural Settlements is 1,686 dwellings once completions (as at 31 March 2018) and commitments (as at 31 March 2018) are taken away from that total, 876 dwellings remain to be delivered. As at October 2018, twenty-three Rural Settlements have the four facilities which qualify them for growth under Local Plan Review Policy SS4. When divided equally this equates to 38 dwellings per settlement over the period 2016-2036.

 

POLICY SS2 - DELIVERING NEW HOUSING GROWTH

  1. The housing requirement for South Somerset is at least 14,322 dwellings in the plan period 2016 to 2036.
  2. This provision will include: Housing development and redevelopment within development areas, allocations identified within this Local Plan Review, conversions of existing buildings, residential mobile homes, housing approved in accordance with Policy SS4 Development in Rural Settlements and new housing allowed through Permitted Development Rights.
  3. The distribution of development across the settlement hierarchy will be in line with the numbers set out below:

Settlement

Local Plan Review 2016-2036

Number of new homes required (net)

Principal Town

Yeovil

5,091

Primary Market Towns

Chard

1,995

Crewkerne

1,194

Ilminster

839

Wincanton

563

Local Market Towns

Castle Cary and Ansford

727

Langport and Huish Episcopi

351

Somerton

574

Rural Centres

Bruton

152

Ilchester

361

Martock and Bower Hinton

330

Milborne Port

245

South Petherton

116

Villages

Queen Camel Neighbourhood Area

1,314

60 (of the 1,314)

Rural Settlements

 

East Coker East Coker Neighbourhood Area (excluding the Yeovil South Sustainable Urban Extension – Policy YV1 and Policy YV3)

 

1,686

38 (of the 1,686)

Total

15,538[15]

5.51 Figure 5.5 provides more detail on the component parts of the individual housing requirements set out in Policy SS2. It will be updated at the next stage of the Local Plan Review process to take account of planning approvals since 31 March 2018 and any other amendments. 

Figure 5.5 Detail of Housing Requirements

Local Plan Review

Completions 2016-2018 as at 31st March 2018

Commitments - net as at 31st March 2018

Completions 2016-2018 as at 31st March 2018 plus net commitments as at 31st March 2018

LPR Housing requirement 2016-2036

Residual Requirement (any pending planning applications, planning permissions granted after 31st March 2018 and new LPR allocations are included within this number) 

Yeovil

564

1640

2204

5,091

2887

Chard

31

474

505

1995

1490

Crewkerne

9

705

714

1194

480

Ilminster

14

105

119

839

720

Wincanton

62

281

343

563

220

Ansford/ Castle Cary

7

559

566

727

161

Langport/ Huish Episcopi

25

146

171

351

180

Somerton

80

354

434

574

140

Bruton

11

76

87

152

65

Ilchester

4

157

161

361

200

Martock/ Bower Hinton

45

75

120

330

210

Milborne Port

29

76

105

245

140

South Petherton

20

41

61

116

55

Villages

121

471

592

1314

722

Rural Settlements

157

653

810

1686

876

Total

1179

5813

6992

15538

8546

 

13. This is the term used when a neighbourhood Plan has been through the whole process including a referendum and the Council has made the decision that it is part of the development plan. [back]
14. Position as at May 2019 [back]
15. *This figure exceeds the 14,322 South Somerset housing requirement for the reasons set out in paragraph 5.37 of this document. [back]

Scale of Growth for the District and the Main Settlements

Employment

5.52 The Local Plan seeks to support the development of a strong, high performing, resilient and adaptable economy by creating a planning framework within which all businesses can invest, adapt and expand in South Somerset. In recognition of the rural nature of the District and to ensure a sustainable approach to growth, an alignment between housing growth and jobs is made at a District-wide level. 

5.53 To deliver these objectives it is important that the Local Plan sets out a clear vision and strategy that encourages sustainable economic growth, having regard to the South Somerset Economic Development Strategy and regeneration proposals for Yeovil, Chard and Wincanton.

5.54 Currently, South Somerset’s economy is robust with high economic activity and employment rates. Whilst there has not been substantial growth in new jobs in recent years, with low unemployment and a declining working age population, this has not yet been of concern.

5.55 The evidence base used to inform the plan[16]  has assessed a range of data and developed economic scenarios reflecting upon previous rates of growth, current challenges, and future opportunities. Two sets of economic forecasts, coupled with local intelligence were used as the basis for identifying a jobs growth target and subsequent employment land requirement for this Local Plan. Whilst the forecasts revealed differences in outlook in terms of growth because of the different assumptions they made in their models, both forecasters were in agreement that the level of employment growth over the Local Plan Review period would be lower than the figure identified in the adopted Local Plan. The evidence identifies that South Somerset should see a minimum of 9,360 new jobs delivered between 2016 and 2036[17] .  The Local Plan will support this jobs growth through site allocations and criteria based polices.

5.56 The lack of job growth is largely explained by the sectoral make-up of the local economy, with an over-representation in sectors such as manufacturing and its associated supply chain that have experienced employment decline in recent years. Micro-businesses also dominate and the growth in these businesses, like in jobs, has been slower in recent times than in other areas. The high representation in manufacturing is countered by an under-representation in “office-based” activities, such as financial, professional and business services.  That said, the South Somerset Economic Development Strategy notes that key growth sectors, including aerospace, advanced engineering and manufacturing, healthcare, tourism and food and drink offer opportunities for growth and diversification, and a high proportion of small businesses and entrepreneurs provide further opportunities for growth and innovation. 

5.57 A lower job creation target, coupled with a national drive to improve the productivity of existing businesses and a reliance on contracting sectors such as manufacturing has implications for the District’s future land and floorspace requirements. For planning purposes, it is important to note that whilst the evidence shows the additional jobs will be spread across a wide range of sectors and requires land to be identified where possible to support that growth, a substantial number of jobs will be created in town centres, in the health sector, in education and in leisure activities (i.e. not traditional B Use Class activities). In fact, nearly a third of new jobs will not require any land as they will be homeworkers or people who require no fixed place of employment, such as construction workers.

5.58 Nevertheless, in these uncertain economic and political times, the key will be flexibility and the criteria based policies in this Local Plan Review (see Economic Prosperity, Section 10) are flexible enough to accommodate needs not yet anticipated such as additional jobs that may arise from, for example, the food and drink industry - a key growth sector recognised in the Council’s Economic Development Strategy, which links to agriculture and may experience growth as a result of Brexit.

5.59 South Somerset is an agricultural District and supporting agri-businesses through a range of rural diversification projects will be important to realise the Council’s economic ambitions. Policies EP4 (Delivering Employment Land), EP5 (Expansion of Existing Businesses in the Countryside) and EP6 (Farm Diversification) are relevant for such development.

5.60 The tourism sector in South Somerset is also long established and supporting further growth and value in this sector of the economy will be supported through Local Plan Policy EP8 (Tourism).

5.61 The Local Plan's approach to supporting economic growth and delivering employment land seeks to focus this growth in the main settlements to ensure more sustainable and self-contained communities that are better placed to offer a range of opportunities to all of their residents. This approach will support the retention of strong, vibrant and healthy communities. In addition, in recognition of the rural nature of the District, growth will be supported along the main transport corridors, maximising the potential of the A303 to the economy.

5.62 Past economic success has been used to inform the distribution of these jobs across the District. The presumption is that the focus for economic growth will be Yeovil, followed by the Market Towns and Rural Centres. Additional employment land required to support the jobs likely to come forward in the Villages and Rural Settlements will be small-scale and will be expected to accord with Local Plan Policies SS4, EP4 and EP5.

5.63 The Local Plan Review removes the jobs target by settlement that appeared in the adopted Local Plan because of the difficulties in monitoring annual jobs growth at a settlement level.

5.64 The Employment Land Review is the evidence based document that identifies and justifies the amount of employment land required by settlement.

5.65 The allocation and distribution of employment land across the District is set out in Figure 5.6 below. This has been derived from a combination of quantitative and qualitative need justifications for each settlement.

5.66 The Local Plan Review carries forward a number of employment land sites from the adopted Local Plan. These sites continue to form part of the strategy set out in Policy SS3 and Policy EP1 for employment land delivery through to 2036.

Figure 5.6: Employment Land Justifications

Settlement

Local Plan

Employment Land

Requirements

2006-2028 (hectares)

Quantitative Land Supply of Employment Land Supply (hectares) March 2018

Local Plan Review New Employment Land Requirement (hectares)

Yeovil

44.84 plus 5.16 in Yeovil Sustainable Urban Extensions

43.25 (including Yeovil Sustainable Urban Extensions)

24.0

Chard

17.14

12.50

13.5

Crewkerne

10.10

4.25

6.0

Ilminster

23.05

19.75

4.0

Wincanton

7.94

4.5

6.5

Ansford and Castle Cary

18.97

2.25

2.5

Langport and Huish Episcopi

4.01

1.0

1.5

Somerton

6.63

4.0

3.0

Bruton

3.06

0.0

1.0

Ilchester

1.02

0.0

0.5

Martock and Bower Hinton

3.19

4.5

3.0

Milborne Port

0.84

0.0

0.1

South Petherton

2.47

0.5

0.5

Stoke sub Hamdon

1.09

0.0

0.5

Rest of the District

-

22.25

21.5

Total

149.51

118.25

88.0

 

 

POLICY SS3 - DELIVERING NEW EMPLOYMENT LAND

  • The local plan will assist the delivery of 9,360 jobs by identifying 88 hectares of land for the development of employment uses (Use Classes B1, B2 and B8) between April 2016 and March 2036 and supporting other forms of economic development through the criteria based policies in this plan.
  • The distribution of development across the settlement hierarchy will be in line with requirements below:

Settlement

Local Plan Review 2016-2036

Amount of Employment Land required (hectares - net)

Yeovil

24.0

Chard

13.5

Crewkerne

6.0

Ilminster

4.0

Wincanton

6.5

Castle Cary and Ansford

2.5

Langport and Huish Episcopi

1.5

Somerton

3.0

Bruton

1.0

Ilchester

0.5

Martock and Bower Hinton

3.0

Milborne Port

0.1

South Petherton

0.5

Villages (Stoke sub Hamdon)

0.5

Rural Settlements (Rest of the District)

21.5

Total

88.0

  
16. South Somerset Employment Land Evidence: Long Term Economic Forecasting and Implications for Employment Sites and Premises (July 2017) https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/media/1326/long_term_-_economic-forecasting-report-july-17.pdf  , Addendum to South Somerset Employment Land Evidence: Long Term Economic Forecasting and Implications for Employment Sites and Premises (November 2018) https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/media/1325/long_term_-_economic-forecasting-_addendum_1-nov-18.pdf  [back]
17. Housing Requirement for South Somerset and Yeovil (January 2011) & Examination Core Document 167: Employment Policy SS3: Proposed Main Modifications Background and Further Evidence Base (November 2013) [back]

Villages

5.67 The introduction of a Villages category of settlement seeks to direct growth away from the smaller Rural Settlements. This approach seeks to reduce the demand for growth in less sustainable places and encourages growth where there is a greater concentration of services and facilities. It is considered that this approach is results in a more balanced settlement hierarchy.

5.68 The Local Plan Review does not allocate sites for development in Villages nor does it define Development Areas in these locations. However, Policy SS2 attributes an overall scale of growth to Villages, derived from a consideration of the size and function.

5.69 New development at Villages will be expected to adjoin the existing main built settlement and respect the character and setting of the settlement in accordance with the other policies in this Local Plan Review.

Development in Rural Settlements

5.70 Policy SS4 seeks to ensure the development needs of Rural Settlements can be met whilst restricting the scale of such growth. This policy is consistent with the spatial strategy of focusing development at Yeovil, the Market Towns, and the Rural Centres.

5.71 The Rural Settlements tier of the settlement hierarchy covers a range of settlements that vary in size, role, function, local priorities, and constraints. Therefore, the interpretation of Policy SS4 will depend on applying these factors in considering proposals at each individual settlement. Development should meet the needs of the settlement itself.

5.72 As Policy SS4 is starting from the premise of no development unless certain conditions are met; the evidence provided in support of applications is critical. Applications for new development in Rural Settlements will need to include necessary supporting evidence to justify that the criteria of Policy SS4 have been satisfied. Such proposals should be based upon meeting the needs of the Rural Settlement in question and developers are encouraged to carry out meaningful and robust engagement with local communities at an early stage. This includes the town or parish council and other local stakeholders. Clearly, the more types of development a proposal contains, the more broad based a case can be made for sustainable development. Opportunities for infill and use of previously developed land should be considered as well as development on greenfield sites.

5.73 Policy SS4 can be used as a starting point for rural communities who wish to identify land for development in Neighbourhood Plans. Community-led plans such as Parish Plans and Village Design Statements, which have been endorsed by the Council, are not development plan documents like adopted local plans and ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plans[18] . However they can be used as evidence to inform the design and layout of planning applications for development in Rural Settlements.

5.74 Whilst the NPPF recognises that there may be occasions when nearby smaller settlements effectively provide and support local services for one another[19] .having considered the geographical distribution of the settlements within South Somerset, their status in the settlement hierarchy, and the services they provide, there is little evidence to show that there is a functional relationship between the Rural Settlements that meet the criteria with in Policy SS2 and those that do not.

5.75 It is important to ensure that the occupiers of new homes in Rural Settlements are able to live as sustainably as possible by having easy access to essential facilities that provide for their day to day needs. Therefore, development through Policy SS4 should only be located in those Rural Settlements that have at least four out of the six services listed below; if they do, for the purposes of Policy SS4, they will be regarded as a qualifying Rural Settlements.

  1. Local convenience store / post office
  2. Primary School
  3. Health Centre
  4. Pub
  5. Village hall, community centre or faith facility with community meeting space
  6. Children’s play area

5.76 In simple terms, it is not realistic to expect a small hamlet with few services to be made a more sustainable location through new development.

5.77 The following sub-headings provide further explanation on meeting the types of development that will be appropriate in Rural Settlements i.e. employment, local services and housing.

18. In South Somerset the adopted Local Plan, post referendum and ‘Made’ Neighbourhood Plans are development plan documents. [back]
19. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 78. [back]

Employment Opportunities

5.78 The NPPF[20]  states that policies should support sustainable growth and expansion of all types of business in rural areas. Economic growth in rural areas has many beneficial economic impacts. It will help overcome the unfulfilled economic potential in rural communities, tackle an over-reliance on traditional low paid employment as well as under-employment, and help limit skilled workers having to move elsewhere for work. The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership has identified rural enterprise as a key workstream and are working to take forward the recommendations in the South West Rural Productivity Commission Report[21] .

5.79 Some examples of employment opportunities that are likely to be acceptable in Rural Settlements include starter units to support individuals or small companies, workshops, and businesses that require a rural location e.g. farm diversification and tourism.

5.80 The scale of employment development that is acceptable in Rural Settlements will vary depending on the size and nature of each settlement. Policies EP4 and EP5 provide further detail on how applications for economic development in the countryside will be assessed.

20. NPPF, 2019. Paragraphs 83 and 84. [back]
21. South West rural Productivity Commission Report, October 2017. [back]

Local Services and Facilities

5.81 Accessible local services that meet community needs and support well-being are vital to creating strong, vibrant and healthy communities.

5.82 Policy SS4 therefore generally supports proposals to create or enhance community facilities and services in Rural Settlements – this could include local shops; community halls; pubs; health and social care facilities; cultural, sports, recreation, faith and education facilities. It should be noted that there is a clear link between the provision of housing and employment and securing current and future facilities and services. The inter-relationship should be clearly explained in any application for development in Rural Settlements.

5.83 Evidence must be provided to demonstrate that this service/facility is required, that it would be viable in the longer term and that there is a suitable mechanism to deliver the facility or service.

Housing

5.84 The NPPF states that policies should take into account the need to provide housing in rural areas. Although the focus should be on existing towns and identified service centres, some new housing should be provided to meet identified local need in other rural areas [22]  in order to enhance or maintain their sustainability.

5.85 Housing proposals should, where possible, demonstrate how they would support existing facilities. The NPPF states that to promote sustainable development in rural areas, housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities.

5.86 The NPPF gives flexibility for local councils to set their own approach to delivering housing in rural areas. This includes considering whether allowing some market housing would enable the provision of significant additional affordable housing to meet local needs[23] . Policy SS4 allows for both affordable and market housing.

5.87 Housing proposals in Rural Settlements will need to fully explain how they contribute towards meeting local need within the settlement itself. This could be through delivering affordable housing or a different form or type of market housing which is in limited supply for locals, for example small bungalows for elderly local households to move to and remain in the village, or two bedroom accommodation for young households.

5.88 Evidence must be provided which demonstrates how the local need is being met, for example through a Neighbourhood Plan, a Local Housing Needs Survey no more than two years old, or other recent survey.

5.89 It will be expected that affordable housing is included as part of housing schemes proposed at Rural Settlements where the threshold in Policy HG2 is triggered. Where the threshold for the provision of affordable housing has not been triggered, applicants should give careful consideration to the mix of housing proposed. The aim will be to achieve a better overall variety of housing in the settlement and result in a more balanced community with better prospects for local people being able to obtain affordable housing and/or access a wider range of market housing having regard to Policies HG3 and HG4.

5.90 Policy SS4 does not preclude proposals for rural exception schemes which provide 100% affordable housing. In fact these will be supported and particularly encouraged in Rural Settlements.

5.91 In settlements that do not meet the criteria set out in part i. of Policy SS4, proposals for 100% affordable housing will be supported where there is an identified local need demonstrated through a Local Housing Needs Survey. The Council can provide support to those parishes wishing to carry out or commission such an assessment.

5.92 Policy SS2 sets out the scale of housing development that could be delivered in the Rural Settlements tier of the settlement hierarchy. The measures set out in Policy SS4 are designed to maintain the balance of that hierarchy and are in recognition of how development in Rural Settlements should be strictly controlled. In Rural Settlements that have four out of the six facilities listed in paragraph i.criterion a. (qualifying Rural Settlements) development should not take place on sites over one hectare in size.[24]

 

POLICY SS4 - DEVELOPMENT IN RURAL SETTLEMENTS

i. Development in Rural Settlements will be supported where all the following criteria are met:

a. The Rural Settlement must contain at least four of the following six types of service:

  • Local convenience store / post office;
  • Primary school; 
  • health centre;
  • pub;
  • Village hall and/or community centre or faith facility with a community meeting space;
  • children’s play area;

b. Development must be located within or adjacent to the existing built settlement, be commensurate with the scale and character of the settlement, and provide for two or more of the types of development listed below:

  1. Affordable housing to meet an identified local need in that settlement.
  2. Market housing to meet an identified local need in that settlement.
  3. Employment opportunities appropriate to the scale of the settlement.
  4. Enhanced or new community facilities and services of an appropriate scale to serve the settlement, where a local need has been identified.

c. Housing development in Rural Settlements should be accommodated on sites no larger than one hectare in size. In addition, the cumulative impact of development in any one Rural Settlement should not result in development of an overall scale that is inconsistent with the settlement strategy set out in Policy SS1.

d. Proposals should be consistent with relevant Neighbourhood Plans, have regard to relevant community-led plans and should generally follow robust community engagement and consultation.

ii. In settlements (not small groups of dwellings in the countryside) that do not meet the criteria a) to d), proposals for 100% affordable housing will be supported where there is an identified local need demonstrated through a Local Housing Needs Survey.

 

22. NPPF, 2019. Paragraphs 77 and 78. [back]
23. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 77. [back]
24. This aligns with paragraph 68 a) of the NPPF, 2019 [back]

Infrastructure Delivery

5.93 The growth planned in the Local Plan Review needs to be supported by infrastructure, community facilities, and services to ensure the development of sustainable places. If the infrastructure required to meet the needs of the community is not provided alongside growth, there will be unacceptable impacts on local areas as well as residents and the quality of the environment will be adversely affected. The Council is committed to ensuring that this does not happen and has successfully sought and used planning obligations to obtain the necessary resources to assist in the delivery of this vital infrastructure.

5.94 Planning Obligations in South Somerset are currently delivered through Section 106 Agreements and a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which was introduced in April 2017[25] .

5.95 Section 106 Agreements are legally binding agreements between local authorities and applicants/landowners which can form part of planning applications. Through these agreements, proper provision can be made to ensure that new development meets, or contributes to meeting, the necessary infrastructure for the development to go ahead.

5.96 In order to be requested as part of a planning application, the requirements of a planning obligation must meet the following tests:

  • Be necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms.
  • Be directly related to the development.
  • Be fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development.[26]

5.97 The Council will use its Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) and regular monitoring of infrastructure capacity to understand the required infrastructure to ensure sustainable development. The IDP assesses the existing status of infrastructure in individual settlements including a settlement’s capacity for growth, the nature of additional infrastructure necessary to accommodate additional growth, the likely costs of providing such infrastructure, and any funding sources where known.

5.98 The Council is committed to working with other infrastructure providers to ensure timely delivery of services and to ensure that the IDP is kept up to date. It is a living document, and as changes to infrastructure requirements and funding arises, the Council will work with the relevant stakeholders to regularly review requirements.

5.99 The IDP has informed and will continue to inform any revisions of the Council’s list of strategic infrastructure (as currently identified by the Council under Regulation 123[27] ). The Council is only able to spend the money collected through CIL on the items listed on the “Regulation 123 list”.

5.100 Town and parish councils receive a proportion of the CIL collected in relation to qualifying development that has taken place in their parish. That proportion is 15%, limited to £100 per existing Council Tax dwelling per year. However, where there is a neighbourhood plan in place, which has been successful at referendum and ‘made’ by the Council, the proportion rises to 25% and there is no annual limit. Town and parish councils are able to spend this money on local priorities.

5.101 For infrastructure projects which are not to be funded through CIL and which are required as part of a planning application to mitigate site specific issues, planning obligations under Section 106 will continue to be required.

5.102 In exceptional circumstances, where the viability of a proposal is in question, an ‘open book’ approach to viability will be undertaken and planning obligations will be reviewed in line with adopted Council procedure.[28]

5.103 Affordable housing is not a type of infrastructure, is not part of CIL, and will be negotiated as part of a Section 106 agreement. Policy HG2 sets out the threshold and target for the provision of affordable housing.

5.104 Where a site forms part of a wider development proposal on which planning obligations will be sought, the Council will seek to apportion the necessary planning obligations to ensure that the cumulative impact of such proposals are properly mitigated and to avoid piecemeal development.

5.105 Currently, the CIL regulations[29] prevent Councils from pooling together more than five S.106 planning contributions to fund a single item of infrastructure. However, following a consultation on supporting housing delivery through developer contributions[30] , the Government has stated its intention to lift the pooling restriction. Further legislation is required to make this change and the Government has consulted on revised regulations[31] .

 

POLICY SS5 - INFRASTRUCTURE DELIVERY

i. The Council will secure the provision of (or financial contributions towards) social, physical and environmental infrastructure and community benefits which the Council considers necessary to enable the development to proceed. Proposals that form part of potentially wider sites will be assessed in terms of the capacity of the site as a whole and such requirements sought on a pro-rata basis.

ii. Planning Obligations (through Section 106 legal agreements) will be used to cover those matters which would otherwise result in planning permission being refused for an individual development and may be negotiated on a site by site basis.

iii. The Council, in line with current practice, will obtain payment from developers for legal and monitoring fees in association with Section 106 Agreements.

iv. Infrastructure required as a result of a site-specific planning obligation will normally be expected to be provided onsite and delivered in a timely manner alongside growth but may exceptionally be provided nearby or through financial contribution.

v. The types of infrastructure required will be considered on a site by site basis and may include the following, where appropriate, and not otherwise funded in full or part through CIL (not exhaustive):

  1. Renewable and low carbon energy.
  2. Provision and enhancement of open space, sports facilities and play areas.
  3. Providing for and improving accessibility by a variety of modes of sustainable transport.
  4. Improvements to biodiversity assets and green infrastructure.
  5. Road and highway improvement.
  6. Community facilities, including Early Years, Primary, and Secondary educational provision.

vi. The level of developer contribution will be proportionate to the nature, scale and viability of the project having regard to the:

  1. Capacity of existing infrastructure.
  2. Scale and form of development.
  3. Potential impact of the development upon the surrounding area and its facilities.

vii. In exceptional circumstances, where the viability of a scheme is contested the Council will adopt an ‘open book’ approach to negotiations in line with adopted Council procedures.

viii. A Community Infrastructure Levy will be charged throughout the District in accordance with the adopted Charging Schedule for the provision of infrastructure in the area.

ix. The Council will work in partnership with other authorities and infrastructure providers to ensure coordination of infrastructure delivery to support growth.

 

25. CIL Information and Forms can be found on the Council web site: https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/your-council/your-council-plan-and-strategies/planning-policy/community-infrastructure-levy-cil/ [back]
26. Set out in Regulation 122(2) of the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 and listed in paragraph 56 of the NPPF, 2019. [back]
27. S.I. 2010/948 Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations , Regulation 123 requires the Council to publish a list of those types or individual infrastructure projects that will be funded or part funded b through CIL [back]
28. The current Council procedure is set out in the ‘Development Control Protocol for identifying and prioritising planning Contributions, adopted 15 June 2006. [back]
29. Regulation 123 [back]
30. This took place between March and May 2018. [back]
31. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/developer-contributions-reform-technical-consultation [back]