Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

Retailing and Town Centre Uses

Policy and Trends

9.67 The main town centre uses are identified in PPS4 ‘Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth’ (2009) as:

  • retail development;
  • offices;
  • leisure, entertainment facilities and the more intensive sport and recreation uses; and
  • arts, culture and tourism development.

9.68 The town centres of South Somerset have been identified by the South Somerset Local Plan 2006 which additionally identified ‘Primary Shopping Frontages’, ‘Primary Shopping Areas’ and the ‘Yeovil Town Centre Shopping Area’ on the Adopted Proposals Map. These defined areas have been saved as current Local Plan policies. Work undertaken as part of the South Somerset Retail Study 2009, updated in 2010, in its early phase indicated general support for the validity of the current town centre boundary and primary frontages for Yeovil, Chard, Crewkerne, Ilminster and Wincanton with some minor updates recommended. These town centre boundaries and primary shopping areas should be reviewed as an early priority as part of a future Development Plan Document. In those Rural Centres where such town centre boundaries have not been identified work will be undertaken to determine where they should be identified for the submission document.  These settlements are Ilchester, Milborne Port and Stoke Sub-Hamdon.

9.69 PPS4 seeks to secure viable and vital town centres that are the focus of development and that provide a wide range of services for the community in an attractive, safe and accessible environment. Competition and choice should be secured through innovative efficient shopping, leisure and tourism and service provision and the historic heritage of centres needs to be conserved and enhanced.

9.70 PPS4 seeks the positive planning of centres and, in establishing a policy framework, flexible policies which are able to respond to changing circumstances whilst encouraging high density accessible development, and a defined hierarchy of centres and identified sites capable of securing the centres' growth. Planning applications for main town centre uses including any that create additional floorspace, including internal alterations where consent is required, and applications to vary or remove conditions changing the range of goods sold will be considered against PPS4.

9.71 A diverse range of uses, strong retail mix, supporting shops and services, vibrant markets, identified growth sites together with conservation and enhancement of town centre character, where appropriate, are all to be encouraged. The night time economy is to be encouraged through a complimentary range of uses appealing to a wide range of age and social groups making provision for leisure, cultural and tourism activities such as cinemas theatres, restaurants, public houses, bars, nightclubs and cafes.

9.72 For larger town centres PPS4 encourages the identification of potential redevelopment sites in the centre. A number of these are identified in the Retail Study and also set out later in this section.

9.73 A goal of ‘Shaping South Somerset: A Strategy for Sustainable Communities (2008-2026)’ is ‘Distinctiveness’ which has the objective of:

“A thriving Yeovil, market town and rural economy environment able to attract and retain visitors, consumers and high quality sustainable businesses.”

9.74 The Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) sees a key challenge in achieving this as:

attracting more and a wider range of retail and other services to maximise local spending and overcome competition from Taunton (within Somerset) and the cities of Exeter, Bristol, Bath and Bournemouth.”

9.75 Yeovil Vision seeks to broaden the range of retail provision in Yeovil; this aspiration being articulated through the Yeovil Town Centre Strategy and also the Yeovil Urban Development Framework 2005, which seeks retail use in association with others on several sites.

9.76 The Chard Regeneration Framework aims to create a regenerated town centre with a variety of shops and services in a safe, accessible and pleasant environment. It seeks a recapture of consumer spending for comparison goods with the provision of larger units to meet market needs through redevelopment and an improved environment to improve the retail experience.

9.77 Responses to the Core Strategy Issues and Options Report identified that rather than allocate land for retailing, or an alternative option, a criteria based policy that positively encourages retailing in appropriate locations is needed. Support for retail in towns generally was recorded and specific support for farmers' markets. There was a mix of views in respect of the retail and leisure opportunities that Yeovil lacks/needs however a common feeling was the need for an improvement in the quality of both facilities on offer and environment, and consideration of a development of retail niches within the town. Potential for retail growth would be determined by the Retail Capacity Study and priority for redevelopment on brownfield sites should be promoted.