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

10 Economic Prosperity

Overview

10.1 This section of the Local Plan Review deals with employment and tourism; it also includes employment land allocations on sites within the rest of the district, outside of settlements. Policies relating to town centres and regeneration are covered separately in Section 11.

10.2 The Government is committed to securing sustainable economic growth, which is defined in the NPPF as building a strong, responsive and competitive economy. At the local level, the Plan interprets national ambitions by seeking to provide a positive and flexible policy framework which supports jobs, businesses and investment, across a range of economic sectors.

10.3 The Local Plan sets out a clear strategy to positively encourage sustainable growth. Policy SS3 ensures there is sufficient land available of the right type in the right location to support business needs across the District and, as set out in the NPPF, the policies below identify strategic sites for investment and set the criteria to match this strategy and to meet anticipated needs over the plan period. The policies are intended to be flexible enough to also accommodate needs, working practices or changes in economic circumstances that are not yet anticipated over the plan period.

10.4 The NNPF supports the whole economy, including the needs of the rural economy. Given the rural nature of South Somerset, supporting the rural economy is particularly important. The NPPF expects policies and decisions to enable the sustainable growth and expansion of all types of businesses in rural areas both through conversion of existing buildings and well-designed new buildings. The development and diversification of agricultural or other land-based rural businesses is also supported.

10.5 Sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments which respect the character of the countryside are supported and the importance of retaining accessible local services and community facilities such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, open space, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship is also recognised.

10.6 Unlike in the past, the NPPF now recognises that sites to meet local business needs 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. That said, economic development needs should be balanced and considered alongside competing social and environmental objectives such as supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities and protecting and enhancing the natural, built and historic environment for future generations.

10.7 There is a strong link between the environmental quality of South Somerset and the productivity and success of the local economy. South Somerset’s environment is valued and should be considered as a primary driver in future economic success; therefore, a balance is required between conserving that environment and delivering economic growth.

Carried Forward Strategic Employment Sites

10.8 There are a number of strategic employment sites identified in the current Local Plan for local and inward investment. The South Somerset Employment Land Review (ELR) (2019) has considered these sites in the context of current need and makes recommendations as to which sites continue to be strategically significant and should be safeguarded to ensure the Local Plan vision for economic growth is realised and the needs of the business community supported.

Yeovil - Land at Lufton

10.9 The Lufton site, which is an extension of the wider Lufton 2000 Business Park, is a key employment location in Yeovil. The 5 hectare site, which is owned by the District Council and Abbey Manor Group, benefits from outline planning permission. A small area (0.9 hectares) has full planning permission for a builder’s merchant. The site is strategically significant as it provides general employment land in a prime location in Yeovil.

Yeovil - Land off Bunford Lane

10.10 This site was allocated for a high quality business park in a previous Local Plan and carried forward in the adopted Local Plan because of its important gateway location at the edge of Yeovil with direct access to the Western Avenue Relief Road and wider strategic road network beyond. Outline panning permission was granted for a 20 hectare business park in March 2011 and does not expire until March 2021. A reserved matters application submitted in 2016 is still pending consideration.

10.11 The site is large and requires significant investment including the upgrading of an electricity sub-station. These abnormal infrastructure costs coupled with a weak employment market have prevented the site coming forward for employment use to date. Planning permission is being sought for a supermarket on site to cross fund the site’s infrastructure and bring forward some employment land, but this is contrary to the Local Plan policy on town centres and the sequential test. Residential development has been suggested as an alternative cross funding mechanism.

Yeovil – Seafire Park

10.12 Land at Seafire Park has a long planning history and currently benefits from a ten year outline planning permission for B1, B2 and B8 uses. The site is vacant and serviced. The site was a saved allocation in the adopted Local Plan and is carried forward in this Local Plan Review.

Yeovil – Sustainable Urban Extensions

10.13 Two Sustainable Urban Extensions (SUEs) comprising 2.5 hectares of employment land were each allocated in the adopted Local Plan. The employment land requirement combined with the residential proposals and range of community facilities, seek to ensure the development of a more sustainable community on each SUE.

10.14 Planning applications have been submitted for each SUE and are awaiting determination. Both sites remain allocated under Policy YV1: Yeovil Sustainable Urban Extensions and therefore are not identified in Policy EP1 below.

Chard Key Site

10.15 Land at Chard is allocated for various uses in Policy CH1: Chard Strategic Growth Area to support the strategic growth and regeneration of the town up to 2036. The Chard Regeneration Scheme, which is underpinned by a phased approach set out in the Chard Regeneration Framework, identifies a requirement for up to 13 hectares of employment land which, when delivered in conjunction with housing and other identified social infrastructure, helps achieve a balanced community. Approximately 10.5 hectares has been identified through the Framework, the remainder being “footloose”.

Phase of Chard Regeneration Framework

Amount of Employment Land

Description of Areas

Phase 1

4.8 hectares

4.1 hectares for employment B1, B2 and B8 uses in Thorndun Park, adjacent Chard Business Park, and 0.7 hectares for the same “traditional” uses at Boden Mill Site, of which, a further 0.7 hectares is for mixed use.

Phase 2

3.25 hectares

Enables eastward extension of Millfield Industrial Estate. 4.5 hectares identified for mixed use, 3.26 hectares of which for traditional employment uses.

Phase 3

1.1 hectares

Extension south of Millfield Industrial Estate. 4.5 hectares identified for mixed use, 1.1 hectares of which for employment uses.

Phase 4

1.4 hectares

Further extension of Millfields industrial estate to the south.

10.16 None of the employment land has planning permission. It has been recognised that the employment strategy for Chard is failing, but the Council has made a commitment to delivering the Chard Regeneration Framework, and until a decision is made to move away from that approach, 13.5 hectares of employment land is sought in Chard. The sites remain allocated under Policy CH1 and are therefore not identified in Policy EP1 below.

10.17 The Crewkerne Key Site (saved Local Plan Allocation KS/CREW/1) forms part of the comprehensive regeneration of the town and the employment element aids the delivery of a balanced development. Outline planning permission exists across the entire site but viability concerns associated with abnormal infrastructure costs, including a link road, have caused the developer to negotiate down the employment element from 10 hectares to 3.75 hectares, 0.5 ha of which is for a care home. The site is identified as a Strategic Employment site below. The housing element of his site is also allocated under Policy HG1: Strategic Housing Site.

Land at Ilminster

10.18 Three employment land allocations in Ilminster were saved from the South Somerset Local Plan (1991-2011) and identified as strategic employment sites in the adopted Local Plan. These were Land west of Horlicks Ltd., Hort Bridge (saved Local Plan Allocation ME/ILMI/3); Land off Station Road (saved Local Plan Allocation ME/ILMI/4); and Land adjacent to Powrmatic, Hort Bridge (saved Local Plan Allocation ME/ILMI/5).

10.19 Ilminster sits on the axis of the A303 and A358. Highways England are proposing upgrades to the A358 and along the length of the A303. A Development Consent Order application for the dualling of the A303 Sparkford to Ilchester scheme is currently at Examination and due to be determined by the Secretary of State by the end of 2019. It is expected that the Preferred Route for the A358 scheme will be announced in the spring of 2019. These improvements provide the opportunity for Ilminster to maximize the economic potential of its employment sites and expand into areas such as last-mile logistics for example, with faster and safer journey times to the M5 and London.  

10.20 Land west of Horlicks Ltd., Hort Bridge (saved Local Plan Allocation ME/ILMI/3) has nearly been completely developed and includes a motorhome business and a Highways Agency depot. It is not considered necessary to retain this site as a Strategic Employment Site because only 1 hectare remains from the original allocation and this can be sufficiently managed and approved through the Development Management process.

10.21 Land adjacent to Powrmatic, Hort Bridge (saved Local Plan Allocation ME/ILMI/5) was allocated for the expansion of Powrmatic. In June 2017, permission was granted for an extension to the existing factory and car park but this was achieved on the existing site and did not require any land within the allocated site. The allocation is land-locked and access can only be achieved through the Powrmatic site.

10.22 The site is not saved as a Strategic Employment Site in this Local Plan because the site does not seek to deliver employment land for Ilminster but for one employer. The expansion of an existing employment use would be supported through Policy EP5 and this is considered sufficient.

10.23 Land at Station Road is identified as a Strategic Employment Site; the saved Local Plan Allocation ME/ILMI/4 has had extensive developer interest and discussions are taking place regarding the potential to cross fund the infrastructure required to bring the site forward with some residential land. The development of this site, which is currently an eyesore, will deliver in the region of 13 hectares of employment land. The site is also identified for housing under Policy ILMI/4.

 

POLICY EP1: STRATEGIC EMPLOYMENT SITES

The following employment allocations are strategically significant and will be safeguarded for local and inward investment:

  • Land off Bunford Lane, Yeovil
  • Lufton 2000
  • Seafire Park
  • Land of former Chard sewage treatment works
  • Crewkerne Key Site (CLR)
  • Land at Station Road, Ilminster

Delivering New Employment Land in Yeovil, the Market Towns and Rural Centres

10.24 Sites have been allocated for employment uses in Yeovil, some of the Market Towns and Rural Centres, and for the expansion of two established business parks in countryside locations. In settlements where there is an evidenced need for new employment land and premises[1] but no sites have been allocated in this Local Plan because no suitable land was promoted through the call for sites [2]  or identified through the Employment Land Review, planning applications for new employment land and premises will be supported where they are in accordance with national guidance in the NPPF and with the other policies in this Local Plan, for example, Policy EQ2: General Development and Design.

1. South Somerset Employment Land Review, 2019 [back]
2. Housing and Land Availability Assessment Call for Sites 2015-16 [back]

Protecting Employment Land and Buildings

10.25 Between 1st April 2006 and 31st March 2018, nearly 54 hectares of land was delivered for employment activities falling within Use Classes B1, B2 and B8 (B uses) across the District. During that same period, just over 18 hectares of B uses were lost to other uses and, therefore, the net gain in employment land was much lower. The data clearly illustrates the pressure to redevelop existing employment land and buildings, and sites allocated for employment land in the Local Plan, to alternative, higher value uses, especially as alternative uses such as residential and retail are more profitable. This pressure has never been greater than at the present time with the Government’s drive to deliver 300,000 homes a year. Additionally, at a national level, it is noticeable that changes to the NPPF and the General Permitted Development Order have eroded the policies which enable the protection of employment land.

10.26 From an economic perspective, national guidance attributes significant weight to the need to support economic growth and the requirement to provide employment land to support the economy and local businesses community. It is clear that there is an inherent tension in the planning system between delivering homes and protecting employment land and buildings.

10.27 In South Somerset, most of the allocated sites are large and require investment of both time and money to bring them forward. The Council is committed to this approach and is actively engaging with developers to address the barriers that have prevented sites from coming forward to date. Given that these sites will still take time to deliver, their protection is required to support economic growth and deliver the Local Plan strategy.

10.28 In addition to protecting employment allocations, existing land and buildings should also be afforded a level of protection, subject to the developments allowed under the General Permitted Development Rights, if the Local Plan is to deliver on its strategy of support existing businesses.

10.29 The importance of maintaining the existing supply and protecting the overall distribution of employment land should not be underestimated; existing sites and buildings, particularly those at the middle to lower end of the market are a valuable resource for small businesses and those who are self-employed. They also maintain a balance between housing and employment.

10.30 There is an increasing trend for these buildings to be targeted by alternative uses, such as main town centre uses (defined in the NPPF but including shops and leisure activities for example), as they are more affordable than town centre buildings and often have car parking which is attractive to potential occupiers. Whilst it is logical for a small number of ancillary uses such as a café or gym to be co-located on a business park, such uses should be of a scale whereby the majority of their custom is derived from employees, reducing the need to travel, and not threatening the viability of a nearby town centre (see EP3). It is also logical where there are no suitable and available town centre buildings, for uses such as climbing centres or trampoline parks to be located in surplus employment buildings. Proposals for such developments would need to satisfy the sequential test (Policy TC4) and not create operational problems for surrounding B uses.

10.31 There have been instances where non-B uses have resulted in operational problems for B uses leading them to vacate entire areas on business parks that are gradually changing use. Changes of use need to be managed to ensure that the primary employment use is not undermined and there are sufficient opportunities for business to occupy premises in South Somerset.

10.32 The re-use of employment land and buildings will be supported where it can be demonstrated there is no identified need for the employment land or where permitted development rights apply. To assist this process, any proposal to redevelop an existing employment site must provide robust and credible evidence of marketing to support the argument that the site is no longer required for those B uses. The marketing exercise must demonstrate that the site and /or buildings have been marketed at a realistic price for a minimum of 12 months. Details of the requirements for marketing are outlined in the Council’s guidance document 'Commercial Marketing of Property in Relation to Planning and Listed Building Applications'.

 

POLICY EP2: CHANGE OF USE OF EMPLOYMENT LAND AND BUILDINGS

The change of use of employment land and buildings will be resisted unless:

  • Applicants can demonstrate there is no need for the land and/or buildings by submitting a marketing statement with the planning application which demonstrates that the site has been actively marketed for a minimum of 12 months.
  • The proposed use is compatible with surrounding uses and does not adversely impact on the operation of existing businesses in the immediate area.
  • The sequential test set out in Policy TC4 is passed.
  • The proposal would result in significant environmental improvements or enhancements to the character of the area.
  • There is adequate access and the proposed development would not cause an unacceptable impact on the operation of the highway network

Enhancement of Existing Employment Areas

10.33 A lot of the employment property in South Somerset is made up of older stock. The majority of evidenced need for additional employment land in the District comes from a requirement to replace that stock. Many older industrial areas were developed before car usage was so high; there is now a shortage of parking on many estates, and on-street parking is making vehicle movements, particularly HGV movements, difficult.

10.34 Monitoring[3] shows that in the current economic climate, to drive down costs, businesses have been seeking ways to use their existing space more efficiently, either through the expansion of existing premises, changes of use within existing buildings, or intensification of use within an existing site.

10.35 Parking issues, coupled with intensification of use, means that further development on established employment locations is currently limited. The Employment Land Review has, however, identified a small number of opportunity sites on existing business parks and trading estates. Given that these locations benefit from good infrastructure and are accessible to services, it would be prudent to bring these sites forward as they have the potential to be delivered sooner than some of the larger sites, and will allow a supply of sites to come forward in the shorter term.

10.36 The enhancement of existing employment areas offers an opportunity to make positive improvements. Improvements can include the introduction of a small number of ancillary services and facilities on large employment areas, such as a café or gym, which would seek to serve employees and reduce their need to travel at lunch times and before and after work. These uses should be of a scale and nature that do not compromise a Town Centre but focus on making the overall business park more sustainable.

 

POLICY EP3 – ENHANCEMENT OF EXISTING EMPLOYMENT AREAS

New employment land will be supported in existing employment areas provided that full consideration has been given to the parking requirements of the business and there is no unacceptable impact on the operation of the highway network.

Applications for additional car parking in existing employment areas will be supported where it can be demonstrated there is a local need.

Ancillary uses will be strictly controlled and limited in existing employment areas to those which demonstrate they are of a scale and nature commensurate with the surrounding area and do not compromise the vitality or viability of a nearby Town Centre.

 

3. https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/media/1340/south_somerset_economic_development_monitoring_report_april-17.pdf [back]

Delivering New Employment Land in Villages, Rural Settlements and the Countryside

10.37 The NPPF is supportive of the sustainable growth of all types of businesses in the countryside. Paragraph 84 clearly sets out that to meet local business needs in rural areas, sites may have to be found adjacent to or beyond existing settlements and in locations that are not well served by public transport. The use of previously developed land and sites that are physically well-related to existing settlements should be encouraged where suitable opportunities exist.

10.38 The Settlement Strategy (Policy SS1) and Policy SS4: Development in Rural Settlements are clear that employment development should be commensurate with the scale of the settlement. The Local Plan strategy seeks to focus the majority of development in Yeovil, followed by the Market Towns, Rural Centres, Villages and the Rural Settlements. The higher order settlements, which are more sustainable, should be the focus for most of the growth.

10.39 Whilst there is sufficient land to meet evidenced employment need, given the A303 and A358 improvements planned for the future, the introduction of the Villages category of settlement, and the fact that there is no new capacity available unless site allocations are made, the Employment Land Review, 2019 suggests that 5 allocations are advanced to cater for this. The proposed allocations are either HELAA sites or existing employment areas with potential for intensification. The sites that have been identified are:

  • Land west of Cadbury Business Park
  • Land east of Cadbury Business Park
  • Plot 1 Conquest Business Park
  • Land at Conquest Business Park
  • Land at Lopen Head Business Park

Land east and west of Cadbury Business Park

10.40 Cadbury Business Park is a large, modern site in an excellent location with good access to the A303. It serves a number of outlying locations, being in Area East, where land isn’t easily identifiable in some of the named settlements such as Bruton. It has proved to be attractive to the market with a history of business extension and general expansion. Two sites have been identified for allocation, one to the east, and the other to the west of the existing development. 

POLICY RD1 – EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT - LAND EAST OF CADBURY BUSINESS PARK

Land east of Cadbury Business Park is allocated for 0.8 hectares of employment land

  

POLICY RD2 – EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT - LAND WEST OF CADBURY BUSINESS PARK

Land west of Cadbury Business Park is allocated for 1.75 hectares of employment land.

Plot 1 Conquest Business Park and land at Conquest Business Park, Ilton

10.41 Conquest Business Park has good access to the strategic road network (A358 and A303) and the local road network, and serves a rural hinterland, which helps to reduce the need to travel. It is an attractive, modern development which offers good new build accommodation with good car parking. It offers the potential for two intensification sites. 

POLICY RD3– EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT AT PLOT 1 CONQUEST BUSINESS PARK, ILTON

Land at Plot 1, Conquest Business Park, Ilton is allocated for 0.7 hectares of employment land.

  

POLICY RD4– EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT - LAND AT CONQUEST BUSINESS PARK, ILTON

Land at Conquest Business Park, Ilton is allocated for 0.3 hectares of employment land.

Land at Lopen Head Nursery

10.42 Saved adopted Local Plan allocation ME/LOPE/1 has now been developed, but there is still some potential for expansion. The site is well maintained, has good access to the strategic road network (A303), and is ideally located to serve a wider hinterland and minimise distances to travel for residents living in surrounding settlements. Currently, the site is mostly occupied by a single business which has expanded over time.

 

POLICY RD5– EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT - LAND AT LOPEN HEAD NURSERY

Land at Lopen Head Nursery is allocated for 0.65 hectares of employment land.

10.43 There have been instances where local business have wanted to develop on sites in more rural locations, not on sites allocated for employment use in the Local Plan. Various reasons have been given for this, for example, the allocated sites are too large and require too much investment to bring them forward and they are therefore not viable for the business, or the workforce are more local to a rural area, as opposed to one of the towns. Such rural development has been resisted in the past as it is not viewed as sustainable. The new NPPF includes a slight step-change in the approach to supporting the rural economy and, therefore, in exceptional circumstances, employment development of a larger scale may be supported in lower order settlements if there is a justified reason for the proposal, and if there are no adverse impacts on the surrounding locality.

 

POLICY EP4 - DELIVERING EMPLOYMENT LAND IN VILLAGES, RURAL SETTLEMENTS AND THE COUNTYSIDE

To meet local business and community needs, new employment proposals in Villages, Rural Settlements and the countryside will be supported where:

  • it is either adjacent to, or physically well-related to an existing built settlement;
  • it is of a scale commensurate with the locality;
  • there are clear economic benefits to the immediate locality and the wider district;
  • there is no adverse impact upon wildlife or conservation designations; and
  • as far as possible, there are good transport links, including road and public transport, and the proposal includes enhanced travel planning

Larger scale proposals may be considered in these locations where a clear assessment has been undertaken to demonstrate why currently allocated employment land is not suitable and there is a clear financial business plan supporting the proposal.

 

Expansion of Existing Businesses in the Countryside

10.44 The NPPF is supportive of the sustainable growth and expansion of businesses in the countryside.

10.45 In South Somerset there are a number of established businesses that are either based on the edges of settlements or within the countryside that provide a valuable source of local employment and play an important role in the local economy. Some of these businesses may have made significant investments in their sites and their local workforce and therefore may have limited relocation options.

10.46 The Council's economic priorities for South Somerset are summarised in the draft Economic Development Strategy, where it is clear that one of the focuses for supporting sustainable economic growth in the District is meeting the expansion needs of existing businesses.

10.47 Whilst the preference is for development to take place within settlements as set out in the settlement strategy (Policy SS1), in some instances, development of employment generating activities in the countryside should not be restricted only to that for which a countryside location is not essential. Where businesses have 'outgrown' their respective sites and premises and have aspirations to grow, they should not be unduly constrained by their location; there are likely to be instances in which their expansion into open countryside may be appropriate.

10.48 Any proposed development must not adversely impact upon the character of the countryside, the surrounding landscape, the form and character of the settlement or biodiversity.

 

POLICY EP5 - EXPANSION OF EXISTING BUSINESS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

Proposals for the expansion of all types of existing businesses in the countryside and outside established employment areas will be permitted where:

  • The business is a viable business and its re-location would be impractical or not viable;
  • The proposed development cannot physically and reasonably be accommodated within the curtilage of the existing site and existing buildings have been re-used where possible;
  • There is no adverse impact on the countryside with regard to scale, character and appearance of new buildings and/or changes of use of land;
  • There is no adverse impact upon wildlife or conservation designations; and
  • There is no unacceptable impact on the operation of the highway network.

 

 

Agriculture

10.49 Agriculture is an important element of the economy in South Somerset which has more farm holdings than any other district in the County. In 2016 there were 1,269 farm holdings in the District compared to 873 in Mendip (the next largest number in Somerset), meaning 75,000 hectares of land was farmed mostly for livestock. Due to the nature of livestock farming, the numbers employed in the sector is not huge, it has steadily employed around 3,000 people for a number of years, ranging from farmers to casual workers, but the associated agri-food sectors and their supply chain employ far more.

10.50 Food security, local produce, and reducing 'food-miles' remain nationally important, and an increasing onus on a low carbon economy, will provide opportunities for key sectors such as land based industries and renewable energy. It is therefore important to establish policy which supports a productive countryside and the transition from traditional to new rural enterprises.

Farm Diversification

10.51 National Guidance recognises that farm diversification, the diversification from the dependence on production of agricultural commodities into non-agricultural activities, and the diversification of other land-based rural businesses, is vital to the continuing viability of many existing farm enterprises. The District Council is keen to support development that delivers diverse and sustainable farming enterprises, for example, farm shops, Bed and Breakfast, and leasing of land or buildings to other non-agricultural businesses. It is important that proposals for diversification bring long-term and genuine benefits to individual farming enterprises and the wider rural area.

10.52 In encouraging economic diversity and agricultural diversification, it is important that the countryside is not spoilt by the unfettered development of an inappropriate and unwarranted nature. Therefore diversification proposals should be of a scale and nature appropriate to the location and be capable of satisfactory integration into the rural landscape. Such proposals should have regard to the amenity of neighbours, both residents and other businesses that may be adversely affected by new types of on-farm development.

10.53 In some instances, when a scheme is successful, it can grow to such a scale that would make it unacceptable, and whilst the Local Authority would not wish to limit the growth of a successful business, consideration should be given to the potential impact on the character of the rural location. Also, in more isolated locations, difficulties may arise in terms of access and traffic activity and development may require the need to promote and advertise and therefore signage may also become an issue.

10.54 Proposals must be accompanied by a comprehensive farm diversification plan, which indicates how new uses will assist in retaining the viability of the farm and the agricultural enterprise, and how it links with any other short or long term business plans for the farm.

10.55 National Guidance supports the development of equine enterprises (see Policy EQ8: Equestrian Development).

 

POLICY EP6 - FARM DIVERSIFICATION  

Proposals for development for the purpose of farm diversification within established agricultural holdings will be permitted if they comply with the following criteria:

  • The character, scale and type of proposal is compatible with its location and landscape setting;
  • A development will not be allowed to proceed unless it can be demonstrated that it will not result in any adverse impacts to the integrity of Natura 2000 sites and other national and international wildlife sites and landscape designations;
  • They form part of a comprehensive farm diversification scheme and are operated as part of a viable farm holding and contribute to making the holding viable;
  • Appropriately located existing buildings should be re-used where possible; and
  • Where new or replacement buildings are required, the proposal is in scale with the surroundings and well related to any existing buildings on the site.

Henstridge Airfield

10.56 Henstridge Airfield is a site extending to approximately 142 hectares in size. It is located in open countryside close to the Somerset/Dorset border. It is remote from any large centres of population, its nearest settlement being the village of Henstridge. It is served by a network of rural roads and lanes.

10.57 Henstridge Airfield has a long and complicated planning history, the particular circumstances of the airfield and its history of use has required detailed and comprehensive consideration resulting in the production of a Masterplan. This was produced in consultation with relevant Councillors and Town and Parish Councils in South Somerset and North Dorset Districts, representatives from Somerset County Council and statutory bodies such as the Environment Agency.

10.58 The Masterplan [4]  identifies areas where spatial and development management criteria apply to general industry under use class B2 [5] ; and includes:

  • areas that should be kept free from build development;
  • areas where there is a commitment to built development;
  • areas where there should only be built development in connection with airfield use; and
  • areas where there should only be built development in connection with recreational/drainage use to the east.

10.59 The approved Masterplan informs the interpretation of Policy EP7, in particular the acceptability or unacceptability of proposed development.

 

POLICY EP7 - HENSTRIDGE AIRFIELD

Because of its remote, countryside location, permission will not be granted for further development at Henstridge Airfield that would unacceptably intensify the level of activity or materially add to built developments.

4. Henstridge Airfield Masterplan, 2009 (approved by South Somerset Area East Committee on 8 July 2009) [back]
5. As defined in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Amendment (England) Order 2005 [back]

Tourism

10.60 The tourism sector contributes significantly to South Somerset’s economy. The range of unique, nationally and internationally recognised attractions and tourist accommodation, coupled with the attractive rural environment and built heritage combine to offer real potential for further growth and value in the visitor economy.

10.61 The planning system, by taking a proactive approach to development proposals for tourism development, can facilitate and promote the implementation of good quality, sustainable development, at the same time as protecting the built and natural environment. These twin aims are crucial to support a thriving tourism industry in South Somerset.

10.62 Sustainable tourism development is supported in both urban and rural locations. In rural locations, the character of the countryside that draws in the visitor in the first instance will need to be respected.

10.63 To improve South Somerset's tourism offer and to extend the tourism season, support will be given to sustainable tourism developments that benefit businesses, communities and visitors, subject to their scale and location. Major new tourism proposals should be assessed in terms of overall sustainable development objectives. These objectives include:

  • enhancing the overall quality of the tourism offer in the district;
  • developing new tourism markets;
  • helping to extend the tourism season;
  • where possible, being readily accessible by non-car means;
  • contributing significantly to the district’s economy;
  • increasing rather than just displacing visitors from other areas and attractions;
  • where possible, being located within or near Yeovil or the Market Towns to ensure a local workforce that can access the attraction effectively and sustainably; and
  • being well located to the national road route network.

10.64 Where proposals would result in the creation of accommodation that is capable of being occupied for residential purposes on a permanent basis, the Council will impose conditions on any permission granted specifying its use as holiday accommodation only. Proposals that maintain the financial viability of existing tourist accommodation will be supported in accordance with Policy EP8. Minimising the visual prominence and landscape impact of expanded holiday and caravan sites or chalets will be important.

10.65 Statutorily designated natural or cultural heritage assets are recognised as having scope for tourism proposals subject to appropriate control that ensures the features for which they are designated are not compromised (see Policy EQ5: Biodiversity).

10.66 It is recognised that some locations are not well served by public transport, but in all circumstances, applications will be expected to consider sustainable transport opportunities and ensured access by foot, cycle and/or public transport where this is practical and achievable. Multi-use paths and bridleways also provide opportunities in rural locations to partake in tourist activities, and are a sustainable transport option in their own right.

 

POLICY EP8 - NEW AND ENHANCED TOURISM FACILITIES  

New and enhanced tourism facilities will be supported within or adjacent to existing built settlements where they are of an appropriate scale to the size and role of that settlement.      

Outside settlements, new and enhanced tourism facilities must be in keeping with the character and scale of the location and landscape setting.

In all cases, development proposals will need to demonstrate that there are no significant adverse impacts on biodiversity interests (including Natura 2000 and other internationally and nationally designated sites), and that they do not harm the District’s environmental or cultural heritage, ensuring the continued protection of designated conservation features.

Locations that are accessible and have good transport links, including road and public transport, will be supported.

New holiday accommodation in the countryside will be supported where existing buildings are reused.