Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

Scale of Growth for the District and the Main Settlements


4.40 The RSS (Proposed Modifications) proposed 19,700 dwelling completions from 2006 - 2026 with a breakdown of 11,400 for Yeovil of which 6,400 were to be within the urban frame and 5,000 as an adjacent urban extension(s). Some 8,300 dwellings remained as the provision for the rest of the District.

4.41 The revocation of the RSS requires a review of the overall scale of growth appropriate for the District. This review must be informed by local evidence and aspiration to comply with Government aspirations for new "Localism". The Council has reappraised the options formally considered at the RSS Examination in Public (EIP) namely 13,600, 16,600 and the Proposed Modification figure of 19,700 dwellings. Current projections of the Office of National Statistics (2008) still point to a requirement for meeting housing need of 19,700 dwellings, whereas projections of past building rates would suggest the lowest figure, and projections with an anticipated increase (reflecting large greenfield sites now to come forward to boost construction rates) would suggest the middle figure.

4.42 Sustainability Assessment has been undertaken of these three options for growth and the conclusions in relation to the three options are set out below:

13,600 dwelling provision - Conclusion:
Significant under provision of housing compared to household projections would mean the needs of the community are not met, particularly in relation to identified affordable housing need, although this scenario does have the benefit of being an economic-led approach which balances housing with forecast job creation. Less development means that the environmental effects are the lowest of the three options, although negative effects on the landscape and biodiversity will require mitigation. Increase in CO2 emissions is likely, but lower than the other two options due to less development.
16,600 dwelling provision - Conclusion:
Under provision of homes compared to household projections, but evidence suggests that the economy can support this level of housing development. Likely to be negative environmental effects, including development of green field land, increase in CO2 emissions, and additional car traffic. Mitigation measures are recommended to ensure these effects are minimised, such as prioritising sustainable transport modes, avoiding the development of sites of biodiversity value, and sensitive landscaping and design.
19,700 dwelling provision - Conclusion:
Positive effect of meeting the community's need for new homes, and the potential to provide high levels of affordable housing. High level of development could help to make services and facilities more viable, although infrastructure improvements will be required to ensure the effect is not negative. Relative increase in homes compared to job creation in this option will make it harder for those living in South Somerset to access suitable local employment opportunities, and potentially exacerbate outward commuting. Potential for significant environmental impact (particularly at Yeovil) and increased CO2 emissions - negative effect on landscape and townscape, biodiversity, historic environment, pollution, loss of high quality agricultural land, and increased traffic levels.

4.43 On this basis the preferred option for the Core Strategy is for the middle figure of 16,600 dwellings.

4.44 In the light of major economic changes and changes in national policy it would seem prudent to recheck the economic, population and household projections that underlay the 16,600 dwelling option which this Council presented in its response to the now revoked RSS. The Council are now undertaking this work to inform its final view of the appropriate provision figure for housing in the District to be taken into account along with responses to this draft Core Strategy for the Core Strategy Publication document that is to be submitted for examination.

4.45 The early engagement with Town and Parish Councils in determining the appropriate settlement hierarchy outside Yeovil allows a reasonable degree of certainty that the resultant housing provision figure of 8,400 dwellings reflects local aspiration and the new localism agenda. There is also a significant element of pre commitment with houses built since 2006, or under construction or with planning permission. 16,600 dwellings is considered a challenging but achievable figure. The figure remaining for growth in Yeovil will therefore be 8,200 dwellings, to be provided by a mix of brownfield and greenfield development as explained in the Yeovil  section of this document. This figure for Yeovil is presented as a provisional figure subject to local views and aspirations and clarity about economic projections and brownfield supply. A higher figure of 11,400 dwellings for Yeovil was originally proposed under the higher District Wide provision figure of 19,700 in the revoked RSS whilst a Yeovil provision of 5,300 would be suggested by the lowest figure of 13,600 dwellings for South Somerset.

4.46 The split between brownfield and greenfield provision for Yeovil is set out and explained below in the Yeovil section. In relation however to the provision outside Yeovil and its immediate environs an assessment has been undertaken starting from responses to the Issues and Options report and taking matters forward through Sustainability Appraisal.

Policy SS3 District Wide Housing Provision
Provision will be made for sufficient development to meet an overall District requirement of about 16,600 dwellings in the plan period April 2006 to March 2026 inclusive. Some 8,400 dwellings provision will be made for the Market Towns and Rural Centres and any provision in other settlements justifiable on grounds of enhanced sustainability. Some 8,200 dwellings provision will be made for Yeovil on both brownfield and greenfield sites.

Development outside Yeovil

4.47 The Issues and Options report presented, in Option S3, three scales of growth for development below Yeovil in the settlement hierarchy (the level for Yeovil being fixed at that time by the RSS). These were development in the Market Towns only, development in a limited number of both Market Towns and Rural Centres and development more evenly spread across all Market Towns and Rural Centres. A mixed response was received. Sustainability Appraisal was undertaken as a key mechanism for choosing a preferred option.

4.48 Three detailed options were appraised as illustrated in Figure 5:

  • Option 1: Dispersed growth (current dispersed development rates occurring 2006 - 2009 were projected over the plan period)
  • Option 2: Balanced growth (Development focussed in Market Towns and Rural Centres/other settlements in a 2:1 ratio hence Rural Centres would achieve around 5,800 dwelling completions in the plan period
  • Option 3: Concentrated growth (concentrated in the Market Towns solely after accounting for the development that has occurred within the District to date since 2006). 
Figure 5: Options for Spatial Distribution of Growth outside Yeovil
Figure 5: Options for Spatial Distribution of Growth outside Yeovil

4.49 The main findings of the Sustainability Appraisal were that:

Option1: Dispersed growth
The outcomes of a dispersed approach to development leads to mostly negative effects, including lack of access to services, increasing the need to travel, increase in CO2 emissions, and the impact on the landscape and townscape of rural settlements. There is greater scope to meet affordable housing need in rural areas, but this may mean the need in Market Towns and Rural Centres is not met. This option scores most poorly of the three strategic options.
Option 2: Balanced growth
This more balanced approach to the distribution of development has many advantages over Option 1 by ensuring better access to jobs, shops, and facilities and services. This should help reduce the need to travel in the District. The focus on Market Towns and Rural Centres will allow housing need in the larger settlements to be met, whilst limiting new housing in rural settlements where there is generally poor access to jobs, services etc. The landscape and townscape of rural settlements should be better protected than Option 1. Overall, this option performs best of the three strategic options in terms of sustainability.
Option 3: Concentrated growth
Greater concentration at the Market Towns would enable good access to services, facilities, jobs and shops for new residents. However the economic benefits of new development would be limited to Market Towns and not spread as widely as Options 1 and 2 - potentially to the detriment of jobs and services in other settlements, which could mean travel is increased in rural areas. This option would result in limited housing provision in rural areas, particularly affordable housing, which would mean rural needs are not met, and housing affordability worsens.

4.50 On the basis of this assessment the second option for balanced growth is preferred.

4.51 In moving from the broad strategy of balanced growth existing commitments need to be reviewed, and potential and constraints to growth considered in line with the settlements' identified roles and functions and local aspirations for growth. This work was undertaken in the context of the workshops with Town and Parish Councils and other stakeholders on a settlement by settlement basis and is set out in more detail in the next section.

4.52 The overall outcome is set out in summary form in Figure 6: Proposed Settlement Hierarchy and Scale of Growth (housing) and in policy SS4 below. The key parameters emerging from this work and determining the outcome in terms of proposed growth for settlements and in particular the Market Towns and Rural Centres are :-

  • Housing development within the District will be through redevelopment and infill development as well as through conversion of buildings and, on occasion, residential mobile homes;
  • Greenfield development will be required for both Yeovil and Chard and these are the subject of strategic location and allocations provisions within this Strategy;
  • Other Market Towns and Rural Centres are expected to require greenfield development at some time over the plan period and indications of location are given;
  • These will come forward as and when required in time to provide a continuing supply of housing land through appropriate planning applications that will have been trailed in the first instance by the identification of suitable, available and viable land through the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) process in partnership with key stakeholders and, crucially, private sector developers and registered affordable housing providers;
  • Chard's larger scale development is in recognition of its size and potential, due to its high degree of self containment and is reflected in the positive planning proposals emerging from the Chard Regeneration Framework. Recognition is also made of the infrastructure phasing and requirements and the market limits to development rates that would indicate that development of the appropriate scale for Chard would entail a build out of the whole site beyond the plan period, with a realistic provision within the plan period of 1,700 dwellings;
  • Crewkerne's current level of provision, including the key site provision from the outgoing local plan, should be implemented in the plan period and provide the opportunity to secure an appropriate level of growth for the town;
  • Wincanton's current level of provision, with additional growth proposed will provide an important opportunity for growth in the relatively remote location (from the centre of the housing market and travel to work area)  thereby providing an important local focus in the east of the District;
  • The provision of 500 dwellings over the plan period was considered an appropriate level of growth for the remaining Market Towns to reflect their status and secure opportunities to maintain and enhance local services and facilities;
  • The provision of 300 dwellings over the plan period was considered an appropriate level of growth for the Rural Centres where local factors did not dictate otherwise to reflect their local importance and to secure opportunities to maintain and enhance the more modest local services and facilities, by comparison with the Market Towns;
  • The recognition that local factors may restrict development at South Petherton, Ilchester and Stoke sub Hamdon;
  • Whilst development outside Yeovil, and the Market Towns and Rural Centres will be heavily restricted and constrained to that which justifies a rural location, there will be opportunities for proposals that are commensurate with the scale and nature of settlements and which could increase their sustainability by developing housing in these locations. This is explained in Policy SS2 in this Strategy.
  • As a consequence of this policy (SS2) the nil residual additional housing provision for other settlements in Policy SS4 and illustrated in Figure 6 is likely to be exceeded by an, at present, unknown number. The "windfall" status of such provision precludes the presentation of an estimate in Policy SS4 (and in Figure 6).

Delivering New Housing Growth

4.53 Development areas are identified for Yeovil, Market Towns and Rural Centres and are shown on the proposals map accompanying the Core Strategy

Policy SS4 Delivering New Housing Growth
Provision will be made for at least 16,600 dwellings in the plan period 2006 - 2026 of which 8,200 will be located within or adjacent to Yeovil including an urban eco town extension of 3,700 dwellings
This provision will include development and redevelopment within developed areas, greenfield development identified within this strategy or to come forward through strategic housing land availability assessments, conversions of existing buildings, residential mobile homes and development elsewhere in accordance with the policy on development in rural settlements.
The distribution of development across the settlement hierarchy will be in accordance with the indicative numbers below:
HOUSING COMMITMENT (Autumn 2009) - (including saved allocations) - dwellings
1,700 of the strategic allocation of 2,716 to be built by 2026
Castle Cary and Ansford
Langport/Huish Episcopi
Milborne Port
South Petherton
Stoke Sub Hamdon
Rural settlements
Total (excluding Yeovil)
*No actual figure for provision is made but it is expected that further growth will be permitted where appropriate in line with Policy SS2
Figure 6: Proposed Settlement Hierarchy and Scale of Growth (housing) shows the proposed settlement status and scale of growth for Yeovil, Market Towns and Rural Centres.

4.54 Figure 6