Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)


4.55 PPS4 is clear that the planning system should facilitate and support sustainable development by making suitable land available for development in line with environmental, social and economic objectives to improve people's quality of life. A fundamental element of the strategy for generating new and better jobs is, therefore, that there will be a ready supply of the right amount and kind of employment land, at the right time and in suitable locations. 'Employment land' refers to those uses falling within planning 'B' Use Classes[1] (B1-offices/light industry, B2-manufacturing and B8-warehousing and distribution), considered employment in its 'traditional' sense.

4.56 There are clearly other major employment sectors, which present different spatial planning issues and are addressed elsewhere, these include town centre retail/leisure uses, health, social services and education and other commercial uses.

4.57 The preferred approach seeks to deliver sufficient employment land, in accordance with the Core Strategy settlement hierarchy, to achieve a broad balance between homes and jobs in a bid to raise the level of self-containment in our settlements and reduce the need to travel. Yeovil will continue to be the prime employment location and so will have a greater proportion of employment land, and the Market Towns and Rural Centres will perform an employment function, which is commensurate with their role in the settlement hierarchy. The growth of businesses in rural areas should be focussed on the most sustainable and accessible locations, therefore the development of employment land will be strictly controlled in the open countryside away from existing settlements, or outside areas allocated for development.

4.58 The key evidence for determining employment land provision is the Employment Land Review (ELR). Stage 3 of the South Somerset ELR brings together the conclusions of Stages 1 and 2 to provide a picture of future employment land requirements for the District's main settlements to 2026, refining a final requirement by taking account of the future housing growth, geography, market conditions and consultation with Town and Parish Councils in each settlement. Stages 1 and 2 of the ELR present a number of sources of information informing the employment requirement of the District.

4.59 The ELR demonstrates that 'traditional' employment land[2] will be required to 2026, particularly for expanding local firms and aspirationally, as the District diversifies and moves towards a low carbon economy.

4.60 Policy SS5 identifies the gross minimum employment requirement up to 2026.

4.61 There is an existing supply of employment land in many of the settlements either from Saved Local Plan allocations, outstanding commitments (sites that either have planning permission or are currently under construction) or vacant land (land that has obtained planning permission for an employment use but the planning permission has lapsed/expired, yet the land is still suitable and available for an employment use). Consequently whilst the amount of land to be delivered through the Core Strategy appears to be substantial, in reality it is much smaller in net terms.

4.62 The preferred approach does not restrict the type (Use Class) of employment land in any of the settlements identified. Responses to the Issues & Options consultation were clear that the Core Strategy should lay the foundations for economic growth, but should not set out prescriptive requirements for sites. The Core Strategy should provide a good supply of land, which will meet the differing needs of business whilst being flexible enough to respond to changing market conditions, including new sectoral requirements. In the spirit of flexibility, designating sites for single or restrictive uses is avoided. There may be sound Development Management or highways reasons that will limit the use of land on certain sites and this will be established at pre-application stage.

1. Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 as amended [back]
2. B1, B2 & B8 of the Use Classes Order [back]

Delivering New Employment Land

4.63 Policy SS5 distributes employment land according to the role and function of each settlement and having regard to the location of proposed housing. The aim is to provide additional employment land in the locations identified in order to improve the jobs to working population ratio. This will enhance the economic self-sufficiency of the District as a whole and the towns, villages and countryside within it, in accordance with the Vision and Spatial Strategy. Increasing the total available employment land in South Somerset will ensure the creation of local jobs, vital for the economic prospects of the District.

4.64 The figures cited in Policy SS5 are not prescriptive or inflexible, but in general terms, delivery of these levels of employment land will ensure sufficient job creation in line with population growth from the new house building proposed within the settlement hierarchy.

Policy SS5 Delivering New Employment Land
The Core Strategy will deliver up to 107.43 hectares gross of employment land (use class B1, B2 and B8) distributed to the following settlements as a minimum, for the period from April 2006 to April 2026:
Yeovil:      51 ha (23ha of which will be associated with the Eco Town) *    
Chard:     13 ha *   
Crewkerne:   10.53 *    
Ilminster:        19.4ha *  
Wincanton:     1.5ha 
Somerton:      1.0ha 
Langport/Huish Episcopi:    1.5 ha    
Castle Cary/Ansford:  3.0 ha   
Ilchester:      1.0 ha    
South Petherton: 1.0 ha
Martock:    1.0 ha
Bruton:   1.0 ha  
Milborne Port: 2.0 ha 
Stoke Sub Hamdon:  0.5 ha
Total:     107.43 hectares
* The need identified in these settlements is already committed or partially committed through saved Strategic Employment Sites (Policy EP1) excluding supply already achieved for Chard, Crewkerne and Ilminster.

4.65 The figures in SS5 are expressed in gross terms and do not take into account existing supply, (namely any land that is currently under construction or has been committed to employment use either through approval of planning permission or as a Saved Local Plan allocation or vacant land).[3] The net requirement for employment land for the main settlements in the District is explained more specifically in the sections of this document on Yeovil, the Market Towns and Rural Centres.

3. Vacant land has been granted planning permission (for employment use) but that permission has lapsed as no development has commenced on site [back]