Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

Langport/Huish Episcopi

7.26 Langport/Huish Episcopi (see Inset Maps 7 and 7a: Langport/Huish Episcopi Town Centre) is a small town of just under 3000 people according to ONS Mid Yer Estimates (2007) situated in the north of the District. The town has a long history, originally prospering from its strategic location for river-based trade from the River Parrett.  The Bow Street causeway originated in Roman times and the town was established as a royal Saxon borough by the 10th Century.

7.27 Much of Langport/Huish Episcopi is surrounded by high flood risk due to the proximity to the Somerset Levels and Moors, and this is a major constraint to the growth of the town. The Levels and Moors are also important for wildlife with internationally protected sites near the town. Much of the town is designated as a Conservation Area and there is limited landscape capacity to provide new development on the edge of Langport itself.

7.28 As the wider area around the town is relatively sparsely populated, Langport/Huish Episcopi functions as a Rural Centre beyond its size - the key services and community facilities include a secondary school, sport's hall, swimming pool, supermarket, library and bank. Although a mainline railway runs through the town, the station closed in the 1960's.

7.29 The town has a relatively elderly population with 24% of residents being 65 or older (compared to a 20% average in the District, and 19% nationally), which could have potential implications for health care needs and type of housing provision needed in the town.

7.30 Langport/Huish Episcopi has a good balance of jobs (1,200) to workers (1,250), a ratio of around 1:1, but roughly 60% of residents travel elsewhere to work, principally to Yeovil, Taunton, and Somerton. The main employment area is to the west of the town at Westover Trading Estate. Tourism is important for the town with many small businesses being linked to providing facilities and attractions for visitors attracted by the opportunities to walk, cycle and ride horses in the Somerset Levels and Moors and particularly along the Parrett Trail.

7.31 In retail terms, Langport/Huish Episcopi has a reasonably healthy, small town centre with a varied mix of building types and sizes. However, vacancies are noticeable and some of the buildings are in need of physical improvements to make the centre a more appealing shopping experience. Convenience shopping in the town is dominated by one major supermarket, and the comparison sector is mainly limited to independent and specialist stores.[1]

7.32 Early engagement with the Town/Parish Councils at the "Cluster workshops" indicated a desire for some control over the future development of Langport / Huish Episcopi in order to ensure that locally needed development, that would be of benefit to the community, should be allowed, but local facilities and services are limited and would not support substantial growth. Other key issues raised by the Town/Parish Councils included traffic congestion and consequent safety risk in the town centre, and a desire for more local industry and employment opportunities.

1. Draft South Somerset Retail Study update, 2010 [back]