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PROPOSED SUBMISSION LOCAL PLAN 2006-2028 - Aug 12

Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Safeguarding Employment Land

8.26 Employment land in this context is defined as uses within Classes B1, B2 and B8 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 as amended. Nationally there is recognition that there is pressure to redevelop employment land for other more valuable uses, such as housing or retailing, and this is reinforced by local evidence. The Council's employment land monitoring data illustrates that since the beginning of the plan period approximately 12.5 hectares[1] of employment land has been lost to alternative uses.

8.27 The importance of maintaining the existing supply and protecting the overall distribution of employment land should not be underestimated - of the employment land lost since 2006, 5 hectares was redeveloped for residential purposes, if this land had been retained in employment use, it could have provided in the region of 1500 jobs[2]. Existing employment sites provide the main supply of employment land and are required to meet the needs of the market by retaining a mix of older, more affordable premises, whilst maintaining a local balance between housing and employment.

8.28 By protecting employment land, Policy EP3 aims to retain locally accessible employment opportunities, which enable people to live and work in close proximity, aiding self-containment and reducing the need to travel to work by less sustainable travel modes. The retention of employment land and premises is important for job creation and the health of the economy. Second-hand premises are often cheaper, and so appeal to start-ups or small businesses trying to keep rental costs low, having such business premises readily available will allow job creation, which is vital in an area where almost 80% of its businesses are, small ones.

8.29 Whilst Policy EP3 seeks to protect valuable employment land and premises, in line with national policy[3] residential re-use will be supported where it can be demonstrated that there is identified need for additional housing which overrides the economic reasons in favour of retention of the land. 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 B uses. The marketing exercise must demonstrate that the site/premises has been marketed at a realistic price for a minimum of 18 months (a period of which should be determined with the Local Planning Authority at the pre application stage). 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' which will be reviewed and reproduced as SPD.

8.30 The location of employment sites should be considered carefully in the context of their potential to be redeveloped, as the Council is not supportive of the proliferation of unsuitable and unsustainable development in the countryside. Alternative uses will also need to be assessed to ensure that they are compatible with existing surrounding uses and designed to the highest standards in line with Policy EQ2.

Policy EP3: Safeguarding Employment Land

Employment land and premises* will be safeguarded and planning permission will not be granted for development to alternative uses unless it can be demonstrated that the loss would not demonstrably harm the settlement’s supply of employment land/premises and/or job opportunities.

Applicants will be expected to submit a marketing statement with the planning application, which demonstrates that the site/premises has been actively marketed for a maximum of 18 months or a period agreed by the Local Planning Authority prior to application submission.

Changes of use will not be permitted unless:

  • The proposed use is compatible with existing surrounding uses and not detrimental to the operation of existing businesses in the area;
  • Adequate access exists or can be achieved to serve the proposed development;
  • The proposal would result in significant environmental improvements or enhancements to the character of the area; and
  • The site is not in an unsustainable location for the land use proposed.

*Class B1 Business Use, Class B2 General Industrial Use, and Class B8 Storage or Distribution Use of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 as amended.

 
Delivery

8.31 The Council is committed to supporting employment opportunities locally. Planning and Economic Development officers will seek to retain appropriate sites and encourage alternative commercial/mixed uses where possible.

8.32 The ELR and employment land monitoring will provide the mechanism for managing employment land requirements to ensure that a continued supply of land is available and deliverable.

8.33 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy EP3:

  • South Somerset District Council.
 
Monitoring Indicators Target
Amount of employment land and jobs across the District Retain a supply of employment land in Yeovil, the Market Towns and Rural Centres
Losses of employment land to alternative uses Refuse planning permission where no robust, credible evidence that the site is no longer required for economic purposes
1. 1st April 2006 to 31st March 2011 [back]
2. Calculations based on English Partnerships Density ratios [back]
3. NPPF – Paragraph 51 [back]