Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

What will the Core Strategy Deliver?

6.100 The South Somerset Settlement Role and Function Study concludes that Somerton has a strong employment, retail and community role which has been reflected in its status as a Market Town. The justification for Somerton’s status is set out in the Settlement Strategy Section and the Key Diagram illustrates this status.

6.101 In order to sustain and enhance Somerton’s role as a Market Town in the rural north of the District, at a level commensurate with the size, accessibility, character and environmental constraints of the town, it is recommended that around 500 dwellings are built in the town over the Core Strategy period 2006-26. 219 dwellings have already been built or committed within the plan period, leaving a land requirement for around 281 additional dwellings for the period to 2026. Evidence from the Sustainability Appraisal suggests that major development should be located to the west of Somerton as this is the best location to extend the town. The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) indicates a site accommodating around 300 dwellings could be delivered here. This direction of growth is indicated on the Proposals Map/relevant inset map which also shows other alternatives considered.

6.102 Around 1.8 hectares of employment land has already been built or committed leaving an additional supply of 1 ha of employment land required for the remainder of the plan period.

To be delivered through the Core Strategy 2006-2026 - 1 hectare
Gross Need - 2.77ha
Supply         - 1.91ha
Net Need     - 0.86ha

6.103 The addition of at least 1 hectare of employment land in and around Somerton will support greater self containment, meet need during the plan period. This is not a strategic issue and any land should be adequately delivered through the Development Management process.

6.104 The South Somerset Retail Capacity Study update (2010) indicates that the ability to significantly increase the amount of comparison goods floorspace for Somerton will be constrained by its size, natural catchment area and level of commercial market interest. Somerton is orientated towards a top-up food shopping function and, in principle, it would be beneficial to increase the level of retention of main/bulk-food shopping trips. However, like the comparison retail sector, the natural catchment and expenditure capacity of the centre will limit the potential for large-scale additional provision and there will also be concerns over the impact on existing provision. Therefore, for both convenience and comparison retailing, a general strategic approach for Somerton is recommended which acknowledges the need to retain shopping trips within the town and supports proposals that increase retention via the promotion of realistic proposals.

6.105 The delivery of this level of development (housing and employment) will bring several key benefits to Somerton, including meeting housing need particularly for affordable housing, supporting the vitality and viability of the town centre and other local business, and improvements to the infrastructure in the town. Some of the key infrastructure issues that have been raised in early consultation with the Town Council include pressure on the local road system, insufficient capacity at the doctor's surgery, and lack of capacity of the drainage / sewage system. The close relationship with Langport / Huish Episcopi may mean increased capacity at Huish Episcopi Secondary School would be required as a result of new development at Somerton. The emerging Infrastructure Delivery Plan will consider the necessary infrastructure to accompany new development in more detail but at this time and in general it is considered that these concerns can be addressed.