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

8 Rural Centres

Overview

8.1 The Spatial Strategy identifies five Rural Centres based on the findings of the South Somerset Settlement Role and Function Study and other evidence. These are the settlements that act as focal points for the surrounding area for retail and community service provision, and in some cases have an employment role too. To promote greater self-containment and stronger local communities, the strategy requires these places to accommodate some housing and employment growth. Community facilities and services, which better meet the needs of the settlement and its surrounding area, will be encouraged.

8.2 The five identified Rural Centres are: Bruton, Ilchester, Martock and Bower Hinton, Milborne Port and South Petherton. The key issues, challenges, and an indication of what the Local Plan Review will deliver for each settlement are covered below.

Bruton

Spatial Portrait

8.3 Bruton is situated in the east of the District, in the Brue Valley, a few miles north of the A303, about 4 miles from Castle Cary and 7 miles from Shepton Mallet. The A359 Frome to Yeovil road passes through the settlement.

Bruton

8.4 Today, Bruton is one of the larger settlements in the District with a population of 3,045 residents[1] . The topography and, hence, settlement has been heavily influenced by the River Brue. The majority of the settlement is built on the higher ground on the north side of the river and in recent years residential development has occurred to the north east of the town.

8.5 Nearly 45% of the settlement's economically active residents do not travel out of the area to work making the level of self-containment a little higher than across the District (District Average; 43%)[2] . The major employment sector is education, with four schools in the settlement (and nearly all of local jobs are in this sector). There is also the Wyke Farms Cheese business, the Hauser and Wirth gallery, and the popular ‘At The Chapel’ restaurant. The challenge for Bruton is resisting any further loss of employment land and providing a range of opportunities to both live and work locally. In retail terms, whilst there is no large supermarket, there are a number of independent shops providing a range of convenience goods. There are a variety of community services including a doctor’s surgery, library, and post office.

8.6 In addition to a regular bus service, residents in Bruton have access to rail services. The railway station, which is located on Station Road, is on the Heart of Wessex Line running from Bristol to Weymouth. A national cycle route runs through the settlement.

8.7 One of the key environmental issues in Bruton is the risk of flooding along the course of the River Brue and its tributary Combe Brook. As a result of a severe flood in 1982, a retention dam was built about one and half miles east of the town, the dam acts as a flow regulator to control the total amount of water in the river at Church Bridge without any human intervention.

1. ONS Mid-Year estimates 2016 [back]
2. ONS MSOA Level Travel to Place of Work Data [back]

Local Aspirations

8.8 A Town Plan Resident Survey was undertaken by the Town Council in the autumn of 2016, and a Town Plan was published in 2017, which District Council Members have since endorsed. The Town Plan states that any major residential development should be on sites that the community support, and that the historic centre of the town and green spaces should be protected.

What Will The Local Plan Deliver?

Settlement Status

8.9 As set out in Policy SS1, Bruton is classified as a Rural Centre due to its retail, community service, and to a lesser extent, employment role. Identification of Bruton as a Rural Centre will enable the settlement to grow and expand its identified role by allowing for additional growth to encourage greater self-containment and broaden the employment base.

Housing

8.10 It is important to sustain and enhance Bruton's role as a Rural Centre, with a level of development that is commensurate with its size, accessibility, character and environmental constraints. The Local Plan Review will therefore support the development of about 152 dwellings over the Plan period up to 2036. 76 dwellings are already committed (of which 11 are already completed). Two preferred sites to emerge from the resident survey were at Brewham Road, and a small site at Frome Road.

Brewham Road

8.11 This site is at the eastern edge of the settlement. Although it would be possible to provide an access on to Brewham Road, it would be preferable to use existing access points within the residential development to the west to avoid loss of a mature hedge.

 

POLICY BT1 – HOUSING PROVISION AT BREWHAM ROAD, BRUTON

Land to the north of Brewham Road is allocated for residential development providing for the following:

  • About 60 dwellings, including 29% affordable housing;
  • Children’s informal play space;
  • Public open space;
  • Access from the area around Brew Avenue to the west.

Land west of Frome Road

8.12 Located to the north east of the town centre, the number of dwellings that could be provided here is limited by steep gradients across the site. For this reason, only a small frontage development is allocated.

 

POLICY BT2 – HOUSING PROVISION AT FROME ROAD, BRUTON

Land to the north west of Frome Road is allocated for residential development providing for about 5 dwellings.

Employment

8.13 Bruton is very much a local centre with a high dependence on its strong, prestigious educational establishments. The supply of employment land is modest and in keeping with the settlement's scale and function.

8.14 The settlement is a cultural hotspot which has thrived since the redevelopment of Durslade Farm into the Hauser and Wirth gallery, and the ‘At the Chapel’ restaurant. The High Street is small but vibrant with a mix of independent retail outlets and service orientated offers to cater for a clientele that travels to the small Rural Centre.

8.15 As set out in Policy SS3, a minimum of 1 hectare of employment land will be supported up to 2036, which will assist new jobs growth and improve levels of self-containment within the settlement.

Retail

8.16 As set out in Policy TC4, Bruton is a Local Centre in retail terms and the focus for any new retail development should be within the defined town centre. The Retail and Main Town Centre Uses Study 2017 states that the centre has a good range of comparison units, slightly above the national average. The comparison offer is made up of independent and specialist stores and no national multiples. In terms of convenience units, there is a Spar Shop (34m2 net) and a Premier (102m2 net) supplemented by an organic food shop and a wine shop. The provision of service uses in the centre is below the national average and includes a number of hairdressers, an estate agent, and a post office. There are a number of restaurants and public houses, and one takeaway. The vacancy rate at 12.1% is slightly above the national average of 11.2%.

8.17 Proposals for retail development in excess of 250m2 will be required to undertake a Retail Impact Assessment (Policy TC6).

Infrastructure

8.18 The Infrastructure Delivery Plan does not indicate the need for any 'critical' infrastructure[3] requirements to be provided in Bruton as a result of the proposed new development. It does, however, identify a number of 'necessary' infrastructure[4] requirements, which generally relate to open space and sports facilities. There are also capacity issues in medical facilities around Bruton and it is a priority area to review but, at the time of writing, it is understood that no solution has yet been identified. The risk of flooding locally means that the Environment Agency will be preparing a surface water management scheme. Flood defences at Bruton may need to be raised in the future to provide an increased standard of protection, funded through development.

3. See Glossary [back]
4. See Glossary [back]

Ilchester

Spatial Portrait

8.19 Ilchester churchIlchester is situated five miles north of Yeovil, on the eastern fringe of the Somerset Levels and Moors, concentrated at a point where the River Yeo crosses the Fosse Way. It has a historic legacy and has many Scheduled Ancient Monuments, archaeological sites, and historic buildings including the 13th Century St Mary Major and the Church of St Andrews, both Grade II* Listed buildings. There is also a Conservation Area.

8.20 In 1940, the Royal Naval Air Station was commissioned at Yeovilton, and since then, it has grown to become one of the busiest military airfields in the UK, with helicopters operating out of the Station on a consistent and regular basis. Ilchester, being in close proximity to RNAS Yeovilton has accommodated development over recent years to provide housing for many service personnel and their families stationed at the air base.

8.21 As a result of its natural and historic constraints, the settlement is formed around two distinct points of growth. At the southern end, the main commercial area is formed around the historic core and, to the north, Northover is a recent growth area.  Both are linked by linear development along the Fosse Way. The Historic Core is virtually completely surrounded by land within Flood Zone 3, the functional floodplain of the River Yeo, with certain parts of the built up area itself, including the linear development along Fosse Way also being within Flood Zone 3. The northern growth area has developed over the past 50 years or so, on gently rising ground, and is not subject to flooding or known archaeological constraints. This area includes the infant and junior schools (split site), a factory, a shop, and residential development, including housing for service personnel and their families stationed at nearby RNAS Yeovilton.

8.22 YeoviltonToday, Ilchester has a population of 1,246 people[5] , however, the presence of RNAS Yeovilton, which has over 4,000 personnel on the base, swells this number considerably. Given the presence of RNAS Yeovilton, Ilchester is a strong location for employment. As a result of the number of personnel living in Ilchester, the level of self-containment is good with approximately 56% of people living and working in the same area[6] .

8.23 The settlement also provides a retail and community service role - there are a few convenience stores, a post office, infant and junior schools, and a doctor's surgery which has recently merged with the one at Somerton. There are regular bus services to Yeovil, Taunton and Street.

8.24 Key environmental issues affecting potential new development include flooding and the presence of archaeological remains. Much of the southern half of the town is an Area of High Archaeological Potential and also adheres to noise constraints from the airbase.

 

5. ONS Mid-Year estimates 2016 [back]
6. ONS MSOA Level Travel to Place of Work Data [back]

What Will The Local Plan Deliver?

Settlement Status

8.25 As set out in Policy SS1, whilst Ilchester has a strong employment role due to its proximity to RNAS Yeovilton, it is classified as a Rural Centre.

Housing

8.26 It is important to sustain and enhance Ilchester's role as a Rural Centre, with a level of development that is commensurate with its size, accessibility, character and environmental constraints. The local plan will therefore support the development of around 361 dwellings over the Plan period, up to 2036.

8.27 Bureau Veritas were commissioned by South Somerset District Council in 2010 to prepare noise contours to represent current typical aircraft activity at RNAS Yeovilton[7] . Noise contours have been identified (see Appendix Four) and these will be a material consideration used to guide planning decisions (see Policy EQ8 - Pollution Control). These contours were reviewed a number of years ago and the District Council’s Environmental Protection Unit is satisfied that they remain unchanged. The contours seek to minimise the adverse impact of noise, without placing unreasonable restrictions on development or adding unduly to the costs and administrative burdens of business.

8.28 The MOD can give no guarantee as to the type, number and frequency of aircraft movements now or in the future, and therefore, this will be subject to an ongoing review through the Council’s monitoring processes. It is imperative that any further dwellings be constructed to the highest levels of noise protection so as not to constrain the base’s future operational flexibility and provide an appropriate living environment for new residents.

7. Aircraft Noise Contours for RNAS Yeovilton, SSDC and Bureau Veritas (July 2010) [back]

Land north of Troubridge Park

8.29 This site to the north of the settlement would be suitable for about 200 new dwellings and 1 ha of employment land. As the site is located near to RNAS Yeovilton, developers should be aware that building heights exceeding 15.2 metres are likely to result in an objection from the Ministry of Defence and should therefore be avoided. Access will need to be off B3151.

 

POLICY IL1 – HOUSING AND EMPLOYMENT PROVISION NORTH OF TROUBRIDGE PARK, ILCHESTER

Land north of Troubridge Park is allocated for residential and employment development providing for the following:

  • About 200 dwellings, including 29% affordable housing;
  • 1 hectare of employment land;
  • Children’s formal and informal play space;
  • Public open space;
  • Access via the B3151.

Employment

8.30 Proximity to the A303, and good connections to the south and north, means that Ilchester will always enjoy the advantages brought about by good road communications. The allocation of 1 hectare of employment land as part of Policy IL1 should be supported to increase Ilchester's level of self-containment and offer an alternative to Yeovil.

Retail

8.31 There are only a small number of commercial units within the defined Ilchester town centre. These comprise a former post office, hairdresser, restaurant, two public houses, and a takeaway. There are no convenience or comparison shops in the centre, although the Texaco Garage does incorporate an important ancillary retail use (Central Off Licence) and there is a convenience store to the north located on Taranto Hill. The nearest large-scale supermarkets are located in Yeovil.

8.32 As set out in Policy TC4, Ilchester is a Local Centre in retail terms and the focus for any new retail development should be within the defined Town Centre. Proposals for retail development in excess of 250m2 will be required to undertake a Retail Impact Assessment (Policy TC6).

Infrastructure

8.33 Fluvial flooding from the River Yeo is a key risk at Ilchester, with surface water flooding also being an issue at Ilchester Meads. There has been flooding on the highway on the A37 and nearby on the A303. Flood risk infrastructure includes embankments and raised channel banks on the River Yeo and flood walls. The embankment that runs alongside the River Yeo may need to be increased in height to help protect the settlement in the future.

8.34 New housing will generate a need for additional open space and outdoor play space, sports, community and cultural facilities; although the timing of this is not fundamental to delivering development. Equipped play areas have also been identified as a particular priority.

8.35 The issue relating to GP capacity has now been resolved by combining with the Somerton practice.

Martock and Bower Hinton

Spatial Portrait

8.36 Martock is a small, attractive town in central South Somerset, on the southern edge of the Somerset Levels and Moors and just off the busy A303. Mill Brook and Hurst Brook flow between Martock and Bower Hinton to the south, before joining the River Parrett to the west. The town is surrounded by gradual undulating hills that are regarded as having high landscape value. It is well connected to Yeovil, which is situated seven miles to the southeast.

8.37 Martock and Bower Hinton have a joint Conservation Area incorporating various listed buildings along the main road between the two settlements. Listed buildings are concentrated at the historic centres of Martock, Hurst, and Bower Hinton. Areas of flood risk run through the centre from east to west between Martock and Bower Hinton. The land either side of the streams has been identified as part of the functional flood plain.

8.38 The population of Martock parish is 4188.[8] The town has a good variety of services, however self-containment is an issue. Travel to work data shows that about 80% of the population out commute with many going to Yeovil, but also the Ilchester area.[9] . The town is home to many small businesses that are clustered principally at Martock Industrial Park and the out of town Parrett Works. Redevelopment of sites, such as Paulls Court, has resulted in a loss of employment land. Providing more employment opportunities in Martock/Bower Hinton could potentially reduce the currently high level of out commuting.

8. 2016 ONS Mid-Year Estimate [back]
9. ONS MSOA Level Travel to Place of Work Data [back]

Neighbourhood Plan

8.39 The Parish of Martock was designated a Neighbourhood Area for the purposes of a Neighbourhood Plan in April 2016 and a Resident Survey was completed in 2017. The importance of health facilities and shops seem to be greater priorities for the local community than, for example, play areas and sports facilities. Many people are unhappy with traffic and parking in the area, with congestion in North Street being frequently mentioned, also HGVs in the centre, and vehicle speeds.

What Will The Local Plan Deliver

Settlement Status

8.40 Martock/Bower Hinton is designated a Rural Centre and this will enable the settlement to grow and expand its identified role by allowing for additional employment growth, the provision of additional retail premises, and modest housing growth, all of which will encourage greater self-containment.

Housing

8.41 To enable the settlement to grow and continue to expand its identified role, about 330 dwellings are proposed over the Local Plan Review period. 75 are already committed (of which 45 are already completed)[10] , leaving a residual requirement for 210 new dwellings.

8.42 The western edge of Martock seems to be the most sustainable and unconstrained location for growth, although a degree of separation to Coat (further to the west) should be retained. Several sites are available where planning permission has not already been granted.

8.43 There are three sites that can deliver additional dwellings within the lifetime of the new Plan. They could probably jointly deliver around 210 dwellings. These sites are set out below.

10. As at 31st March 2018 [back]

Land to the north of Coat Road

8.44 There is direct access onto Coat Road but it has no edgings or footways and it is likely to need widening. There would be little visual harm in this respect. Appropriate highway works would therefore be necessary for the development to proceed. The separation to Coat would be retained by a substantial field and long gardens remaining undeveloped.

 

POLICY MB1 – HOUSING PROVISION NORTH OF COAT ROAD, MARTOCK

Land north of Coat Road is allocated for residential development providing for the following:

  • About 55 dwellings, including 29% affordable housing;
  • Children’s formal and informal play space;
  • Public open space.

Land to the south of Coat Road

8.45 Planning permission has previously been granted for the development of this site but lapsed in May 2018. It is understood that the site is still available and deliverable.

 

POLICY MB2 – HOUSING PROVISION SOUTH OF COAT ROAD, MARTOCK

Land south of Coat Road is allocated for residential development providing for the following:

  • About 95 dwellings, including 29% affordable housing;
  • Children’s formal and informal play space;
  • Public open space.

Land south of Hills Lane

8.46 This site, suitable for about 60 dwellings is also on the western edge of the settlement. Access could only be via the Coat Road immediately to the north. Opportunities should be taken to enhance pedestrian access to the primary school adjoining to the south.

 

POLICY MB3 – HOUSING PROVISION SOUTH OF HILLS LANE, MARTOCK

Land south of Hills Lane is allocated for residential development providing for the following:

  • About 60 dwellings, including 29% affordable housing;
  • Children’s informal play space;
  • Public open space.

Employment

8.47 Whilst an analysis of completions during the Local Plan Review period (2016-2018) illustrates the low level of employment land delivery in Martock to date (as at 31st March 2018, there was a loss of land for B use activities, and there was no land under construction), future supply looks healthy.  Planning permission has been granted for two pockets of employment land amounting to 2.8 hectares - an extension of Martock Industrial Estate (1.2 hectares), and a change of use of agricultural buildings to B1/B8 uses at Stoke Road (1.6 hectares), the latter of which is already underway. Additional employment and retail opportunities should be exploited to strengthen the service function of the settlement, so as to broaden the range of opportunities, and provide greater self-containment.

Retail

8.48 As set out in Policy TC4, Martock and Bower Hinton is a Local Centre in retail terms and the focus for any new retail development should be within the defined Town Centre. There are a very limited range of comparison units and their proportion of the town centre is about half the UK average. There is, however, a relatively good convenience offer, with two small supermarkets, a newsagent, and a bakery. There is a single vacancy[11] .

11. South Somerset Retail and Main Town Centre Uses Study; Lichfields July 2017 [back]

Figure 8.1 Future retail requirements in Martock to 2034 (m2 gross)

Type

By 2024

By 2029

By 2034

Convenience

262

278

294

Comparison

63

150

238

Food and Beverage

11

33

54

Source: South Somerset Retail and Main Town Centre Uses Study, 2017

8.49 Proposals for retail development in excess of 250m2 will be required to undertake a Retail Impact Assessment (Policy TC6).

Infrastructure

8.50 There are flooding issues in Martock where the River Parrett travels through the settlement. Localised problems are exacerbated by small, culverted watercourses which are undersized or prone to blockage. The culverted watercourses that run through the settlement are described by Somerset County Council as being at capacity. There have been property flooding incidents at Foldhill Lane and Long Load Road, and flooding on the highway at various locations, but particularly at Stoke Road. The flood alleviation scheme at Martock includes a 300m flood embankment, throttle structures, widened channel, and walls. If development is proposed on the eastern edge of Martock, existing culverts should be upgraded, funded through developer contributions. Flood defences may need to be raised in the future, depending on the location and floor levels of future development. A minor scheme to improve the inlet to the Foldhill Lane culvert has been carried out by SCC.

8.51 The Infrastructure Delivery Plan identified the requirement for fluvial flood risk defences, and also a community hall, new open space, sports facilities, play area, and expansion of youth facilities for the settlement. An equipped play area at Martock is a particular priority. Delivery of this infrastructure will also be dependent on securing contributions from development (where viable), along with obtaining other funding streams.

8.52 Symphony Healthcare Services advise that the existing primary healthcare practices in Martock are operating in excess of operational capacity in accordance with national standards. An options appraisal for what type of healthcare development is required and could be delivered in Martock to accommodate the primary healthcare needs of the increasing population will be necessary.

Milborne Port

Spatial Portrait

8.53 milborne portMilborne Port is located in the south-east of the District near the Dorset border and the edge of the Blackmore Vale. The River Gascoigne flows south through the village, and the A30 runs west to east through the centre, providing a direct road connection to the larger towns of Sherborne (3 miles away) and Yeovil (8 miles), both to the west. There is access to railway stations at Yeovil and Sherborne.

8.54 Milborne Port is noted for its 'New Town' Conservation Area in the west of the village with a second Conservation Area encompassing the village centre. Much of the countryside surrounding the village is Best and Most Versatile agricultural land, also considered to be of high landscape value, including a Historic Garden at Ven House (itself a Grade 1 listed building) to the south east. Areas of flood risk run through the centre from the north to the south and there are also groundwater protection zones in the vicinity of Milborne Port.

8.55 The population is 2,954 [12]. Self-containment is an issue; a lack of jobs in Milborne Port has resulted in high levels (71%) of out commuting. More employment opportunities in the settlement could potentially reduce this level of out-commuting.

12. ONS 2016 Mid-Year estimates [back]

Local Aspirations

8.56 The Milborne Port Community Plan [13] was produced in 2010 and is now the subject of a review. A public ‘planning for real’ exercise has been undertaken; a residents’ survey carried out, and a housing needs assessment is also underway; but it is probably too early at the time of writing to identify any particular emerging themes.

13. Endorsed by South Somerset District Council, August 2010 [back]

What Will The Local Plan Deliver?

Settlement Status

8.57 Milborne Port is defined as a Rural Centre and this will enable the settlement to grow and expand its identified role by allowing for additional employment growth.  The provision of additional retail premises and modest housing growth will also encourage greater self-containment.

Housing

8.58 In Milborne Port, about 245 dwellings are identified over the Local Plan Review period. 76 dwellings are already committed (with a further 29 dwellings already completed) [14], leaving a further 140 new dwellings which could be accommodated on the two sites identified below.

14. AS at 31st March 2018 [back]

Land to the north of Wheathill Lane

8.59 A planning application is pending for 65 dwellings on land to the west of the site [15]. The allocation would be suitable for a further 45 units, bringing the total to 110. Access should be via the site to the west (the subject of the pending planning application). There is limited visibility at the junction of Wheathill Lane with Station Road and it will be necessary to form a new junction here. This will be subject to the acceptability of removing trees along the northern edge of Wheathill Lane which are the subject of a Tree Preservation Order.

15. Ref 17/03985/OUT [back]

 

POLICY MP1 – HOUSING PROVISION NORTH OF WHEATHILL LANE, MILBORNE PORT

Land north of Wheathill Lane is allocated for residential development providing for the following:

  • About 110 dwellings, including 29% affordable housing;
  • Children’s formal and informal play space;
  • Public open space;
  • Improved junction arrangement for Wheathill Lane with Station Road

Land south of Court Lane

8.60 This site could accommodate about 30 dwellings. Access should be from the north off of Court lane. Adequate visibility at the junction with Wick Road would need to be demonstrated.

 

POLICY MP2 – HOUSING PROVISION SOUTH OF COURT LANE, MILBORNE PORT

Land south of Court Lane is allocated for residential development providing for the following:

  • About 30 dwellings, including 29% affordable housing;
  • Children’s formal and informal play space;
  • Public open space.

Employment

8.61 Additional employment and retail opportunities should be exploited to strengthen the service function of the settlement. 0.1 hectares of employment land is required to be developed to 2036 in order to broaden the range of opportunities and to provide greater self-containment. Much employment land has been lost in the recent past with the changes of use to residential at the Tannery Site, Clark House and Wheathill Nurseries. There is also no existing supply of employment land in Milborne Port.

Retail

8.62 Milborne Port is a designated Local Centre in the retail hierarchy (Policy TC4); it has a small but vital number of commercial units as well as a library. At the time of writing, there is one vacant unit which is the Queens Head Public House. The town centre lacks a bank and a convenience store, although there is a Co-op store located at Coldharbour, north of the centre.

8.63 Milborne Port’s town centre is very small, with just six commercial units interspersed with domestic properties and the library. The buildings in the town centre are largely traditional in appearance with a number being listed. The town centre is located within one of the settlement’s two Conservation Areas.

8.64 There is a small car park in the centre providing 10 spaces. The main A30 runs through the centre, this makes it difficult for pedestrians.

8.65 Proposals for retail development in excess of 250m2 will be required to undertake a Retail Impact Assessment (Policy TC6).

Infrastructure

8.66 The infrastructure Delivery Plan does not indicate the need for any 'critical' infrastructure[16] requirements to be provided in Milborne Port as a result of the proposed new development. It does, however, identify a number of 'necessary' infrastructure[17] requirements, which generally relate to open space and sport facilities.

8.67 Wessex Water has advised that there may be limited sewerage capacity in the area and further assessment work will be required if new development is to take place. Areas of Milborne Port suffer sewer flooding from groundwater inundation during periods of prolonged wet weather. Wessex Water also recommends considering development subject to a revised SFRA.

16. See Glossary [back]
17. See Glossary [back]

South Petherton

Spatial Portrait

8.68 South PethertonSouth Petherton is a large, attractive hamstone village in central South Somerset. It lies immediately to the north of the busy A303 road corridor amongst the shallow folds of low limestone hills, some 7 miles west of Yeovil. The settlement is surrounded by gradual, undulating hills that are regarded as having high landscape value, especially to the west, north and east; the settlement is surrounded by Best and Most Versatile agricultural land. A small stream flows north through the centre of South Petherton before it feeds into the wider River Parrett further along its course. The land either side of the stream has been identified as part of the functional flood plain.

8.69 There are a large number of listed buildings concentrated in the historic core that are incorporated within the Conservation Area.

8.70 The population of the settlement is 3,616 [18] with a higher than average percentage of people over 65 years (28%). The village has a variety of services, however self-containment is an issue. Only just over half of the population is of working age [19], but of those who do work, the travel to work data shows that over 80% out commute to a variety of other locations[20].

18. 2016 ONS Mid-Year Estimates [back]
19. ONS 2011 Census data [back]
20. ONS MSOA Level Travel to Place of Work Data [back]

Neighbourhood Plan

8.71 The South Petherton Neighbourhood Area designation was approved by the District Council in April 2015. Since then, the Neighbourhood Plan for the area was prepared. The Plan was then the subject of independent examination and following a referendum where the vote was in favour, the Neighbourhood Plan went on to be ‘made’ in September 2018.

8.72 The Neighbourhood Plan has the following aims:

  • Protect and enhance our countryside and natural environment
  • Focus future development on small, incremental expansion of the village
  • Control future development
  • Retain the distinctive character of the village
  • Set appropriate design and space standards for new development
  • Establish a more accessible (pedestrian and cyclist friendly) environment
  • Ensure new housing meets local needs and increases choice
  • Strengthen retail/commercial function of village centre
  • Support the growth of local business / enterprise
  • Reduce substantially the impact of the motor vehicle
  • Improve parking provision
  • Provide for a wide range of community facilities and services and improve leisure and recreation opportunities
  • Increase sport and recreation facilities and opportunities at the Recreation Ground.

What Will The Local Plan Deliver?

Settlement Status

8.73 South Petherton is defined as a Rural Centre. This will enable the settlement to grow and expand its identified role by allowing for additional employment growth, the provision of additional retail premises and modest housing growth, all of which will encourage greater self-containment.

Housing

8.74 To enable the settlement to grow and continue to expand its identified role, about 116 dwellings are proposed over the Local Plan Review period. 41 dwellings are already committed (of which 20 dwellings are already completed) [21], leaving a residual requirement for about 55 new dwellings.

8.75 There are two suitable parcels of land that are allocated for development in South Petherton. One is to the south of the hospital site and the other is at the rear of Littlehays.

21. As at 31st March 2018 [back]

Land south of Hospital Lane

8.76 This site, at the eastern end of the settlement, is suitable for about 45 dwellings. However, Hospital Lane is narrow with no footways, so access should be provided from St Michael’s Gardens and/or Lime Kiln Avenue. There is an opportunity to include an increased amount of parking for the Hospital – a local aspiration. Public Rights of Way run along the south eastern edge of the site and across it, and these will need to be retained, albeit possibly re-routed following the approval of a Diversion Order.

 

POLICY SP1 – HOUSING PROVISION SOUTH OF HOSPITAL LANE, SOUTH PETHERTON

Land south of Hospital Lane is allocated for residential development providing for the following:

  • About 45 dwellings, including 29% affordable housing;
  • Children’s informal play space;
  • Public open space.

Land rear of Littlehays

8.77 This site, on the eastern edge of the settlement, is suitable for about 10 dwellings. There are Grade II* listed buildings to the south, the setting of which would need to be protected.

 

POLICY SP2 – HOUSING PROVISION AT REAR OF LITTLEHAYS, SOUTH PETHERTON

Land at the rear of Littlehays is allocated for residential development providing for following:

  • About 10 dwellings; including 29% affordable housing.

Employment

8.78 Additional employment and retail opportunities should be exploited to strengthen the service function of the settlement and 0.5 hectares of employment land is required to be developed to 2036 in order to broaden the range of opportunities and to provide greater self-containment.

8.79 In previous local plans, efforts were made to find a site to potentially meet the needs of local employment users in this part of the district. No acceptable alternatives were found to the Lopen Head Nursery site (1.8 hectares). As such, historically, it has been considered as part of the employment provision for South Petherton and other settlements. However, the assumption that Lopen Head Nursery will continue to provide the employment land for South Petherton can no longer be made, and the potential for new sites in and around South Petherton should be explored. The Neighbourhood Plan seeks employment provision adjacent to A303.

Retail

8.80 As set out in Policy TC4, South Petherton is a Local Centre in retail terms, and the focus for any new retail development should be within the defined Town Centre.

8.81 The centre has a higher than average provision of comparison units when compared with the national average. Notwithstanding this, the range is limited and includes a number of charity shops, electrical and hardware shops. In terms of convenience offer, there are a number of butchers, delicatessens and a Co-op. The provision of service uses is below the national average and includes hairdressers, estate agents, a post office and a bank. In terms of food and drink uses, there is a café, a restaurant, a public house, and a takeaway [22] .

South Petherton town

8.82 The centre is within a Conservation Area, comprising a number of high quality, attractive historic buildings and public realm. The commercial units are historic and in the most part have traditional shopfronts. The vacancy rate is very low, suggesting that the centre is healthy.

8.83 The Retail and Main Town Centre Uses Study does not see the need for any retail site allocations or changes in retail policy for the settlement.

8.84 Proposals for retail development in excess of 250m2 will be required to undertake a Retail Impact Assessment (Policy TC6).

22. Retail and Main Town Centre Uses Study; Lichfields 2017 [back]

Infrastructure

8.85 The Infrastructure Delivery Plan indicates that new housing will generate a need for additional open space and outdoor play space, sports, community and cultural facilities; although the timing of this is not fundamental to delivering development.

8.86 Improvements to Blake Hall are identified as a priority. There is also localised flooding, exacerbated by small, culverted, watercourses that are often undersized and prone to blockage. There is an EA maintained raised embankment and culvert downstream of Hele Lane ford. Flood defences may need to be raised in future to provide an increased standard of protection for the settlement.

8.87 Short term issues associated with a lack of electricity capacity have been identified and water treatment works may be also necessary. Both matters are resolvable with local enhancements, paid for by developers.

8.88 Wessex Water advises that an assessment has been completed to test capacity within its networks for development of the site to the south of Hospital Lane, and that it indicates sufficient capacity exists to serve approximately 65 dwellings.