9 Housing

Overview

9.1 One of the government’s main objectives is to significantly boost the supply of homes across the country. The overall number of homes to be provided in South Somerset over the Plan period is addressed in section 5 of this document. This section of the Local Plan Review discusses existing large scale strategic housing sites and sets out the policies for the size, type and tenure of housing needed for different groups in the community, including the provision of affordable housing.

9.2 The NPPF expects policies to identify the type, size and tenure of market and affordable housing needed within the District in order to ensure that the needs of the different groups within the community can be met. This includes, but is not limited to; families with children, older people, people with disabilities, service families, and travellers, those who wish to rent their homes and people who wish to commission or build their own homes[1] .

9.3 Key evidence for the policies and approach to housing in this section of the Local Plan Review comes from the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)[2] . Updated versions of the document will be used to inform the application of core policies over the Plan period. The SHMA provides guidance on:

  • The likely overall proportions of households requiring market and affordable housing;
  • The likely profile of household types requiring market housing, and;
  • The size, type and tenure of affordable housing required.
1. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 61. [back]
2. Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset and Taunton Deane Strategic Housing Market Assessment, October 2016 (SHMA) [back]

Carried Forward Strategic Housing Sites

9.4 There are a number of strategic housing sites identified in the current Local Plan and these are discussed below.

Yeovil – North of Thorne Lane (Brimsmore)

9.5 The Brimsmore site benefits from outline planning permission granted in August 2007. Various reserved matters approvals have been granted subsequently and 842 dwellings remain to be completed [3] . Development of this site will provide additional housing, recreation and community facilities within the north of Yeovil with a new link road provided from Western Avenue to Brimsmore. A new 'village' centre will provide community facilities for daily needs and provide access to a new primary school. The existing bus service in Larkhill Road can be extended to serve the site. The location of the site is shown on the Yeovil map for information.

3. As at March 2018. [back]

Yeovil - Lufton

9.6 The site lies close to existing employment opportunities on the western side of Yeovil and also close to the Bunford and Lufton strategic employment sites. A local centre will provide for residents' daily needs. Kingfisher Primary School opened in September 2018. The site is anticipated to be completed around 2023 and will have delivered 700 dwellings. The location of the site is shown on the Yeovil map for information.

Yeovil – Lyde Road

9.7 The Lyde Road site was one of the strategic Key Sites in the adopted Local Plan[4] and housing on this site is still under construction with around 100 dwellings remaining to be completed[5] . Work is anticipated to be finished in 2019. The scheme provides an extension to the existing country park along the flood plain, and remains important for delivering a mixture of housing types and tenure in Yeovil.

4. South Somerset Local Plan, 1991 – 2011 [back]
5. As at 31st March 2018. [back]

Crewkerne

9.8 Development of Crewkerne Key Site (Saved local plan Allocation KS/CREW/1) is part of the comprehensive regeneration of the town and the site will provide a wide package of land uses. This site has convenient links to the town centre and will provide a link between the A30 (Yeovil Road) and A356 (Station Road). This site is also saved as a strategic employment site.

9.9 There is an outline planning permission for 525 dwellings on the northern part of the site which expires in February 2023, with reserved matters approval for 203 units. Additionally, there is outline approval for 110 homes and a 60 bed care home to the south, which reduces the amount of employment land to be developed. So far, work has not commenced. This is discussed further in the Crewkerne section of this Local Plan Review.

 

POLICY HG1: STRATEGIC HOUSING SITE

The following housing allocation is strategically significant and will be safeguarded as a residential Key Site:

  • CLR Site, Crewkerne (saved allocation: KS/CREW/1).

Previously Developed Land

9.10 Previously developed land (PDL), often referred to as “brownfield land”, is the land that is or was occupied by a permanent structure and is defined in the NPPF.[6]

9.11 The NPPF expects planning policies to give substantial weight to the value of using brownfield land within settlements for homes and other identified needs[7] . The Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 require local authorities to prepare and maintain registers of brownfield land that is suitable for residential development. Registers are set out in two parts and sites entered on Part 2 of the register are granted permission in principle[8] .

9.12 The Council’s brownfield register can be seen on the web site: www.southsomerset.gov.uk

9.13 The introduction of Brownfield Registers and the new permission in principle negate the requirement to set a local target for the development of previously developed land; but opportunities to bring vacant sites back into use, particularly for housing within existing settlements should be supported and encouraged. This is especially true in Yeovil, Chard and Wincanton where Town Centre regeneration is a priority. See section 11.

9.14 The Council will consider a range of incentives or interventions that could help to ensure that previously developed land is re-used, including addressing obstacles to the development of vacant and derelict sites and buildings and encouraging innovative housing schemes that make effective use of public sector previously-developed land.

6. See Glossary for full definition [back]
7. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 118 [back]
8. Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 [back]

Affordable Housing

9.15 The definition of affordable housing can be found in the NPPF[9] . The definition includes affordable housing for rent, starter homes, discounted market sales housing, and other affordable routes to home ownership including shared ownership, relevant equity loans, low cost homes for sale at a price equivalent to at least 20% below market value, and rent to buy.

9.16 The Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset and Taunton Deane Strategic Housing Market Assessment, October 2016 (SHMA) provides key evidence for developing the approach to affordable housing policy in the Local Plan Review. The SHMA estimates that there is a net annual affordable housing need in South Somerset of 206 homes, and particularly, for 1 and 2 bedroom properties.

9.17 Meeting the housing needs of the district is a key priority for the Council. The Rural Housing Plan, 2018 includes an action plan to support the delivery of affordable housing in rural areas.

9. NPPF, 2019. Annex 2: Glossary [back]

Affordable Housing Policy Target

9.18 The estimated need for 206 affordable homes each year equates to 29% of the overall annual housing target of at least 716 dwellings each year[10] .

9.19 Whilst this target is lower than the 35% in the current Local Plan, the current Local Plan target is subject to viability and, more often than not, the affordable housing contribution within developments is reduced following an ‘open book’ viability testing process.

9.20 Monitoring shows that in 2017/18 affordable housing equated to only 14% of all new dwellings across the District[11] . Moving forward, in accordance with national guidance[12] , once adopted, the Local Plan Review target is expected to be met on major developments. Viability assessments would only be expected to be carried out in exceptional circumstances, where the applicant is able to justify the need for one at the planning application stage. The 28% target will be tested as part of the Plan-wide Viability Assessment which will be undertaken prior to the Local Plan Review being submitted.

9.21 The SHMA shows that, wherever possible, 80% of affordable housing should be provided as affordable housing for rent (Social Rent or Affordable Rent); normally, this is through a Registered Provider (RP) unless it is included as part of a Build to Rent scheme where the landlord need not be an RP.

9.22 The remaining 20% should be other forms of affordable housing, such as starter homes (these still have to be defined by secondary legislation), discounted market sales housing, or other routes to affordable home ownership. This is in line with national policy which requires at least 10% of all new homes on major sites to be affordable home ownership products. Exemptions to the 10% requirement include where the site or proposed development provides solely Build to Rent homes; provides specialist accommodation for a group of people with specific needs (such as purpose built accommodation for the elderly or students); is a self or custom build; or is exclusively for affordable housing, an entry-level exception site, or a rural exception site.[13]

9.23 The involvement of the community and private sectors in providing rented, shared ownership, or alternative schemes, running alongside those more traditionally built by RPs, are welcomed. They will, of course, need to comply with the same terms and conditions of management, maintenance and Scheme Development Standards (SDS) as those set out for affordable rented units by Homes England or any successor organisation.

10. Strategic Housing Market Assessment, 2016 [back]
11. Authority Monitoring Report, October 2018. Paragraph 19.5 [back]
12. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 57 [back]
13. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 64. Exemptions to the 10% requirement include where the site or proposed development [back]

Affordable Housing Thresholds

9.24 In order to maximise the delivery of affordable housing, the threshold should be set as low as possible so that as many sites as possible contribute where it is viable to do so.

9.25 The NPPF[14] states that the provision of affordable housing should not be sought for development that is not major development for housing i.e. where the proposal is for 10 or more homes or has a site area of 0.5 hectares or more[15] . There is an exception in designated rural areas where a lower threshold may be sought. However, South Somerset has no ‘rural areas’ defined under section 157 (1) of the Housing Act 1985; therefore, this provision does not apply.

14. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 63. [back]
15. Defined in the NPPF, 2019. Annex 2: Glossary. [back]

Mix of Affordable Housing

9.26 Analysis in the SHMA considered starter homes, affordable rent, and social rent. Whilst this does not cover every

Tenure and percentage

1-bed

2-bed

3-bed

 

4+ bed

Social/Affordable Rented – 80%

35-40%

35-40%

20%

5%

Starter homes, discounted market sales and other routes to affordable home ownership – 20%

 

15-20%

50-55%

25-30%

0-5%

Source: SHMA, 2016

9.27 It is accepted that where there is evidence of a particular local need; for example though a Local Housing Needs Survey or the Housing Register, this can be a consideration in determining the size and mix of affordable homes to be delivered as part of a proposal. 

POLICY HG2: PROVISION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING

i. The Council will seek affordable housing provision on major sites (those providing 10 or more dwellings or having a site area of 0.5 hectares or more). Such developments should contribute 29% of the total number of dwellings to the provision of affordable housing.

ii. Within any affordable housing provision, 80% should be Social Rent or Affordable Rent and 20% should be starter homes, discounted market sales and other routes to affordable home ownership. The affordable housing should be delivered in the following sizes and tenures unless evidence in a Local Housing Needs Assessment, on the Housing Register or other evidence based report shows that an alternative mix is justified. At least 10% of the overall number of units to be provided should be affordable home ownership products*.

Tenure

1-bed

2-bed

3-bed

 

4+ bed

Social / Affordable Rented – 80%

35-40%

35-40%

20%

5%

Affordable home ownership products: starter homes, discounted market sales and other routes to affordable home ownership – 20%

 

15-20%

50-55%

25-30%

0-5%

iii.        All affordable housing contributions shall enable the provision of the number of affordable units without the need for public subsidy.

iv. Affordable housing will be provided on the application site except where there are good planning grounds that indicate that the provision of affordable housing would not be appropriate on that site. It is preferable in such circumstances that a financial or other contribution should be made towards the provision of affordable housing on another site in the settlement or nearby settlement.

*Except where the site or proposed development provides solely Build to Rent homes; specialist accommodation for a group of people with specific needs (such as purpose built accommodation for the elderly or students); is self or custom build; or is exclusively for affordable housing, an entry–level exception site, or a rural exception site.

Delivery of affordable housing

9.28 Affordable housing will be delivered within the framework of this Local Plan Review and the Council's Housing Strategy. Developers and RPs will be expected to deliver the affordable housing requirements through the planning process, with the Council securing appropriate affordable housing through legal agreements.

9.29 The type and tenure of affordable housing should accord with Policy HG2 and can informed by Local Housing Needs Assessments, up to date information from the housing register, and taking into account local imbalances. The number of units to be provided should be delivered at nil public subsidy as there is no guarantee that any form of public funding will be available for development projects. Developers and landowners should therefore, in the first instance, calculate the cost of contributions to affordable housing on the basis that public subsidy will not be available [16] .

9.30 If the exceptional circumstances arise where an applicant has justified the need to undertake a viability assessment, factors such as local need, market and site conditions, and site-specific development costs will be taken into account and an 'open-book' approach will be taken to negotiation.

9.31 In the exceptional cases where 'open book' valuations do point to a reduced affordable housing provision on site, publicly funded options may be used if available and considered appropriate to restore affordable housing provision on site towards target levels (i.e. 28% of the total number of dwellings).

9.32 Government guidance [17]  recognises that when seeking affordable housing contributions, the provision should be made on the application site. This is in order to ensure that developments provide a reasonable mix and balance of housing types and sizes. However, there may be particular circumstances where the Council and developer agree, and where it has been adequately justified, that a commutation scheme may be acceptable, either by way of off-site provision, or a financial contribution in lieu of on-site provision (this should be broadly of an equivalent value). Off-site provision should be made in accordance with the settlement strategy set out in this document and arrangements must be made to secure the transfer of the site to a RP or other affordable housing provider at a value that ensures the delivery of affordable housing.

16. The SHLVA assumes nil public subsidy [back]
17. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 62 [back]

Nationally Described Space Standards

9.33 Councils have the option of setting additional technical requirements exceeding the minimum standards required by Building Regulations in respect of an optional nationally described space standard[18] . They are expected to gather evidence to determine whether there is a need for additional standards in their area, and justify setting appropriate policies in their Local Plans.

9.34 The SHMA concluded that there was a case for adopting the standards for affordable housing, but for the market sector, there was not a strong case for doing so. This was due to the way in which households occupy homes, for example, using a small, third bedroom as an office. The SHMA also points out that there is a lack of transparency in some developer sales literature regarding whether bedrooms are designed for one or two-person occupancy.

9.35 Based upon the evidence currently available in the SHMA, the nationally described space standards will be applied to affordable housing. The Council may carry out further research to establish if the application of the space standard to market housing can be justified.

 

POLICY HG3 - AFFORDABLE HOUSING - INTERNAL SPACE STANDARDS

Newly constructed, change of use, or proposals to subdivide existing affordable housing should meet or exceed the following minimum gross internal floor areas and storage requirements:

Number of bedrooms (b)

 

Number of bed spaces (persons)

1 storey dwellings (m2)

2 storey dwellings

(m2)

3 storey dwellings

(m2)

Built in storage

(m2)

1b

1p

39 (37)*

-

-

1.0

2p

50

58

-

1.5

2b

3p

61

70

-

2.0

4p

70

79

-

3b

4p

74

84

90

2.5

5p

86

93

99

6p

95

102

108

4b

5p

90

97

103

3.0

6p

99

106

112

7p

108

115

121

8p

117

124

130

5b

6p

103

110

116

3.5

7p

112

119

125

8p

121

128

134

6b

7p

116

123

129

4.0

8p

125

132

138

Notes

  1. Built in storage areas are included within the overall gross internal areas (GIAs) and include an allowance of 0.5m2 for fixed services or equipment such as hot water cylinder, boiler or heat exchanger.
  2. GIAs for one storey dwellings include enough space for one bathroom and one additional WC (or shower room) in dwellings with 5 or more bedspaces. GIAs for two and three storey dwellings include enough space for one bathroom and one additional WC (or shower room). Additional sanitary facilities may be included without increasing the GIA provided that all aspects of the space standard have been met.
  3. Where a 1b 1p has a shower room instead of a bathroom, the floor area may be reduced from 39m2 to 37m2, as shown bracketed.
  4. Furnished layouts are not required to demonstrate compliance
18. DCLG, 2015: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/524531/160519_Nationally_Described_Space_Standard____Final_Web_version.pdf [back]

Market Housing

Achieving Mix of Market Housing

9.36 As well as making provision for affordable housing, it is also important that the right mix of market housing is provided based on current and future demographic trends, the needs of the market, and differing groups within the community. The NPPF promotes a mix of sizes, types and tenure to meet current and future demographic and market trends, and the needs of different people.[19] .

9.37 The SHMA identifies that it is expected the focus of new market housing provision in South Somerset will be on two and three-bed properties. Continued demand for family housing can be expected from newly forming households. There may also be some demand for this size of property from older households downsizing and looking to release equity in existing homes, but still retain flexibility for friends and family to come and stay.

9.38 Figure 9.2 identifies the targets for size of market housing in South Somerset. Targets are presented as a range which allows for some flexibility[20]

Figure 9.2: Targets for Market Housing in South Somerset

Bedrooms

Target

1

5-10%

2

30-35%

3

40-45%

4+

10-15%

Source: SHMA, 2016

9.39 These targets will be used as monitoring tools to ensure that future delivery is not unbalanced when compared with the likely requirements as driven by demographic change in the area.

9.40 The over-arching principle of creating sustainable, inclusive and mixed communities will particularly be applied when negotiating housing mix on major applications (10 or more homes or a site area of 0.5[21] ha or more). The SHMA or successor documents will be used to inform the mix of housing to be provided as well as more local information relevant to any specific development proposals.

9.41 It should be noted that the planning system cannot control who occupies market housing, but it can influence the size and number of bedrooms and provide for a sustainable and mixed form of development.

19. NPPF, 2019. [back]
20. Strategic Housing Market Assessment, Figure 8 [back]
21. NPPF, 2019. Annex 2: Glossary [back]

Bungalows

9.42 Where developments including bungalows are found, they tend to be very popular, particularly with older people downsizing. It should be acknowledged that providing significant numbers of bungalows has cost implications for the developer given the typical plot size compared to floorspace. However, providing an element of bungalow accommodation should be given strong consideration on appropriate sites, allowing older households to downsize, therefore freeing up family accommodation for younger households.

9.43 Stakeholder engagement with local agents carried out during the production of the SHMA identified a particular shortage of bungalows in Yeovil and Castle Cary.

9.44 Bungalows should be considered not only as part of a mix of market housing, but also affordable housing.

Self-Build and Custom Housing Building

9.45 In accordance with the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, South Somerset District Council keeps a register of interested parties seeking to acquire land to build a home. The register includes entries from individuals, or an association of individuals.

9.46 As at December 2018, there were 102 entries on the South Somerset register, requiring a total of 107 serviced plots.

9.47 The legislation requires councils to give permission to enough serviced plots of land to meet the demand in their area. The level of demand is established by the number of entries added to the register during a base period, the first of which begins on the day the register is established, and ends on 30 October 2016. Each subsequent base period runs from 31st October until 30 October each year. At the end of each base period, the Council has three years in which to give permission for an equivalent number of plots of land which are suitable for self-build and custom housebuilding, as there are entries for that base period [22] .

 

9.48 The serviced plots delivered do not need to be linked to those on the register and, therefore, any single dwelling plot completed counts towards meeting the demand for self and custom build homes.

9.49 Monitoring shows that, so far, SSDC is delivering enough single plots in each base period to meet the demand on the register, and is therefore fulfilling its legal obligation.

9.50 The SHMA[23] indicates that demand for self and custom build in South Somerset is highest in the Market Towns and surrounding villages, and this reflects the entries and the register. The evidence shows that the house building industry has reservations about incorporating self and custom build into projects. They are concerned that the self-builder may not complete the project in a timely manner exposing their conventional purchasers to prolonged building site conditions. They expressed no interest in constructing a custom design.

9.51 The Council is meeting its obligations regarding self-build and custom housebuilding, and is generally supportive of proposals including or exclusively for self and custom build homes where they accord with the other policies in this Local Plan Review. 

 

POLICY HG4 - ACHIEVING A MIX OF MARKET HOUSING

A range of market housing types and sizes should be provided across the district on major development sites that can reasonably meet the market housing needs of the residents of South Somerset. The mix should contribute to the provision of sustainable and balanced communities and should be in general accordance with the following targets:

Number of Bedrooms

Target

1

5-10%

2

30 - 35%

3

40 - 45%

4+

10-15%

 

On small sites (not major development), housing types and sizes should be provided that, taken within the context of existing surrounding dwellings and evidence, contribute to the provision of sustainable, balanced communities

22. PPG. Paragraph:023 Reference ID: 57-023-201760728 [back]
23. Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset and Taunton Deane Strategic Housing Market Assessment, JG Consulting, October 2016 (SHMA) [back]

Care Homes and Specialist Accommodation

9.52 Planning for the future housing needs of older people so that they are able to live safely, independently and comfortably in their homes for as long as possible, or move to more suitable specialist accommodation if they so wish, is becoming increasingly important.

9.53 The population of older people in South Somerset is growing. The number of households aged over 65 is projected to increase from 37% of the total number in mid-2016 to 48% in mid-2041 [24] . This increase is in line with the projected growth across Somerset.

9.54 The SHMA [25]  shows that, by 2039, there will be a very significant increase in the number of people with mobility problems and dementia [26] . There are 13,717 households with support needs [27]  in South Somerset, 6,697 are older person only households, some 48.8% of all support needs households. In order to help address this need, specialist housing options will be required; this could include care homes, Extra Care housing[28] and Continuing Care Retirement Communities [29] . Opportunities to adapt the existing housing stock should be maximised.

9.55 Other housing models such as intergenerational housing, where young people and older people live together, are being trialed in other parts of Europe. The Council will be supportive of these new models in locations which accord with the settlement strategy and other policies in this Local Plan Review.

9.56 The market will provide a mix of house types and sizes with the majority of need in South Somerset being for two and three bedroom properties. Homes of this size provide the opportunity for older people to downsize from four bedroom plus properties should they wish to do so. This could then result in larger homes becoming available for growing families.

9.57 Housing options that cater for older people will be particularly encouraged in town centre locations and as part of regeneration proposals in Yeovil, Chard and Wincanton. If people are living in the town centres they will have the opportunity to access more services and can contribute to more vibrant and vital town centres.

9.58 Design tools such as Building for Life 12 can be used to ensure that homes can meet the needs of occupiers at whatever stage they may be during their life [30] .

 

POLICY HG5 - CARE HOMES AND SPECIALIST ACCOMMODATION

i. Proposals for care homes or similar specialist accommodation that meets an identified local need will be supported where it is consistent with the Settlement Strategy. In exceptional circumstances, where development is proposed in a countryside location, the Council will require clear justification for its location. This will take into account the nature of specialist care required and demonstration that alternative sites are unsuitable and/or unavailable, and the economic benefit of the proposal to the locality.

ii. Where the District Council seeks to negotiate affordable housing in respect of development that already meets a specified housing need, such as sheltered housing or Care Homes, the Council will take into account that such sites may be inappropriate for a mix of affordable housing and general market housing, or that such sites have met, by their nature, affordable housing requirements.

24. 2016-based household projections. Table 414 [back]
25. Taunton and South Somerset Housing Market Areas Strategic Housing Market Assessments Report 2: Analysis of household survey data for South Somerset District Council Final Report February 2009. Older people are defined in the document as persons of pensionable age (60 and over for females and 65 and over for males) [back]
26. SHMA, 2016. Figure 11.3 [back]
27. Support needs categories are frail elderly, medical condition, physical disability, learning difficulty, mental health problem, severe sensory disability and other. [back]
28. See Glossary for definition [back]
29. See Glossary for definition [back]
30. https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/asset/document/Building%20for%20Life%2012_0.pdf [back]

Delivery

9.59 Care homes and other specialist accommodation that meets an identified local need will be delivered through the Development Management process and will be particularly encouraged in town centres. Where such a development is proposed in a countryside location, applicants will be expected to provide justification for that location in accordance with the Policy HG5.

Park Homes

9.60 Park Homes provide housing for around 450 households in South Somerset [31] . Mainly the residents that occupy them are within the 50 plus age bracket and have chosen to downsize to this low maintenance housing option. They provide a valuable supply of low cost market accommodation and their maintenance, expansion and promotion can be supported where it accords with the overall strategy for the distribution of growth and other policies in this Local Plan Review.

31. SSDC research 2011 [back]

Empty Properties

9.61 Bringing empty properties back into use can make a contribution to the housing stock within South Somerset. In partnership with others, the Council provides an empty property leasing scheme and empty property loans to bring empty properties back into occupational use, particularly in town centre locations, including flats over shops.

9.62 Empty property loans are designed to assist in market town and town centre regeneration by bringing people back to live in properties which are currently empty. Any (potential) private sector landlord can apply. Loans are available where there is a clear demonstrable need for accommodation. Within town centres, bringing such homes back into use can assist in delivering an active night time economy through establishing a residential element within the area. More details can be found on the Council web site.[32]

32. www.southsomerset.gov.uk [back]

Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

9.63 The accommodation needs of gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople should be considered alongside the housing needs of the whole community. Government guidance makes it clear that local authorities should consider the needs of the travelling community through the local plan process [33] .

9.64 A countywide assessment of the need for Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople accommodation was published in January 2011 [34] and identifies need up until 2020. The assessment has been further supplemented by the Gypsy and Traveller Needs Assessment Update (2013)[35] which identifies need in Somerset up until 2032.

9.65 It is recognised that the existing assessments are now somewhat dated; because of this, the Somerset authorities have agreed to jointly commission a new County-wide GTAA. The new assessment will inform the policy at the next stage of the Local Plan Review.

9.66 The need for residential pitches in Policy HG6 is informed by the 2013 assessment which identifies requirements up until 2032. Based on that evidence, there is a need for 33 residential pitches in South Somerset between 2016 and 2032. Monitoring shows that ten pitches have been delivered between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2018 leaving an outstanding need for 23 residential pitches. There is a continued need for Transit provision in Somerset and Travelling Showpeople plots.

9.67 Historically, evidence suggests that applicants favour small, family owned sites. The Council will be seeking to establish such small pitch sites on publicly owned sites within the District. There may be instances where it is appropriate to have a mixed residential and employment use, this is particularly the case for Showmen's yards.

9.68 Planning policy for traveller sites[36] defines 'gypsies and travellers' and 'travelling showpeople'; these definitions or any successor definitions will be applied for planning purposes.

 

POLICY HG6 - GYPSIES, TRAVELLERS AND TRAVELLING SHOWPEOPLE

i. The accommodation needs of Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople will be met by ensuring that they are accommodated in sustainable locations where essential services are available.

ii.Site allocations will be made to accommodate at least:

  • 23 Residential pitches;
  • 10 Transit pitches; and
  • 6 Travelling Showpeople plots.

iii. The following criteria will guide the location of sites:

  1. Significantly contaminated land should be avoided;
  2. Development should not result in an adverse impact on internationally and nationally recognised designations (for example: Natura 2000 sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty);
  3. The development should not have a significant adverse impact on the landscape character and visual amenity of the area;
  4. The site is reasonably well related to schools and other community facilities;
  5. The health and safety of occupants and visitors will not be at risk through unsafe access to sites, noise pollution or unacceptable flood risk;
  6. There should be adequate space for on-site parking, servicing and turning of vehicles;
  7. The option of mixed residential and business use on sites will be considered where appropriate.

iv.  The number of pitches provided should be appropriate to the size of the site and availability of infrastructure, services and facilities in accordance with the general principles set out in the settlement hierarchy.

33. Planning policy for traveller sites, August 2015 [back]
34. Somerset Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment, Final Edit January 2011 (GTAA) [back]
35. Gypsy and Traveller Needs Assessment Update (2013) [back]
36. August 2015 [back]

Delivery

9.69 Monitoring shows that the Council has consistently managed to deliver residential pitches but has been less able to facilitate transit sites and sites specifically for travelling showpeople.[37] .

9.70 The Local Plan identifies the need for 23 pitches and the Council is exceeding this target. The Authority Monitoring Report 2018 identifies there has been a net gain of 40 residential pitches since the beginning of the Local Plan period in 2006.

9.71 The criteria set out in this policy will guide any planning applications that come forward. Whilst it is recognised that Travelling Showpeople sites require more storage and maintenance space for their equipment, the same criteria will need to be met by all groups regarding accommodation provision.

9.72 The findings of the updated GTAA will inform the Councils approach to the provision of Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople sites going forward.

37. Authority Monitoring Report, 2018 [back]

Replacement dwellings and extensions in the countryside

9.73 The replacement of small country dwellings with more grandiose houses can radically change the character of a site to one of a more suburban nature and also reduce the supply of smaller rural dwellings. To help protect the character of South Somerset's countryside, extensions and replacements of dwellings need to be controlled in terms of scale and design. The erection of replacement dwellings and extensions to existing houses can individually, and cumulatively over a period of years, have an adverse impact both on the character of individual properties and the surrounding countryside.

9.74 This policy aims to give protection to traditional smaller properties in the countryside, therefore helping to meet the objective of providing appropriate housing for the needs of the population.

9.75 In determining what constitutes "disproportionate scale", account will be taken of the extent to which the dwelling has been previously extended, or could be extended under Permitted Development rights [38] , and the character of the area. For the purposes of this policy, 'original' is defined as the dwelling as it was built or as it existed as of the 1st July 1948.

 

POLICY HG7 - REPLACEMENT DWELLINGS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

i. The replacement of existing dwellings in the countryside will only be permitted where:

  1. The scale of the replacement would not result in an unacceptably large increase in the height or size of the original dwelling; and
  2. The development is compatible with and sympathetic in scale, design, materials, layout and siting to the character and setting of adjoining buildings, and to the landscape character of the location; and
  3. The replacement is on a one for one basis and evidence is provided that the use of the existing dwelling has not been abandoned.

ii. Extensions to existing dwellings in the countryside will be permitted where the extension does not result in a dwelling that is disproportionate to the scale of the original dwelling and the size and design of the extension are appropriate to the landscape character of the location.

38. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 as amended, makes provision for a certain scale of development without need for planning permission subject to certain criteria. [back]

Agricultural, forestry and other occupational dwellings in the countryside

9.76 ii. In many instances, it will be possible for workers in agricultural and land-based occupations to live in a town or village near to their business location. However, occasionally the nature of agricultural and other rural businesses make it essential for someone to live on, or in close proximity to the business. National Planning Policy Guidance allows for this [39] .

9.77 Such dwellings should be commensurate with the needs of the holding and not the person requiring the accommodation. Unusually large dwellings in relation to the needs of the unit, or expensive construction in relation to the income it can sustain, should not be permitted. As such, it is considered that an indicative guideline to the floor area of proposed dwellings of approximately 175m² would adequately serve most holdings (the average size of a detached 4 bedroom property built by a national house-builder is 149m²[40] ).

9.78 Potential exists for abuse in the submission of applications for 'replacement dwellings' on agricultural holdings. Therefore, in order to minimise that potential, the history of the holding will be examined to establish the recent pattern of land use and whether any dwellings or buildings suitable for conversion or occupation have been recently sold separately from the farmland.

 

POLICY HG8 - HOUSING FOR AGRICULTURAL AND RELATED WORKERS

i. A development proposal in the countryside to meet the accommodation needs of a full-time worker or one primarily employed (not part time) in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, equestrian activities or other business where a rural location is essential should demonstrate that:

  1. There is a clearly established existing functional need;
  2. The enterprise is economically viable;
  3. Provision on-site (or in the immediate vicinity) is necessary for the operation of the business;
  4. No suitable accommodation exists (or could be made available) in established buildings on the site or in the immediate vicinity;
  5. It does not involve replacing a dwelling disposed of recently as general market housing;
  6. The dwelling is no larger than that required to meet the operational needs of the business; and
  7. The siting and landscaping of the new dwelling minimises the impact upon the local landscape character and visual amenity of the countryside and ensures no adverse impact upon the integrity of nationally and internationally designated sites, such as AONB.

Where a new dwelling is permitted, this will be the subject of a condition ensuring the occupation will be limited to a person solely or mainly working, or last working in the locality in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, equestrian activities or other rural business (or a surviving partner of such a person, and any resident dependents).

9.79 In order to retain the property for its intended use, a restrictive condition will be included on any such planning approval limiting its occupation to a person solely or mainly, or last working in agriculture, forestry or a rural enterprise. It is accepted that there will be circumstances where these dwellings are no longer required for the purpose for which they were originally intended. However, to ensure the planning concession for this type of dwelling is not abused, any application to remove a restrictive occupancy condition for any dwelling in the countryside will need to demonstrate that the need for which the dwelling was approved originally, no longer exists.

9.80 An applicant would be expected to appropriately market the dwelling for a reasonable period at a realistic market price for an agricultural tied dwelling [normally at a discount of 25-30% against open market price[41] ] to establish whether it could meet the existing functional needs of another local farm or rural business. Evidence demonstrating how this requirement has been met will need to be included to support any application to vary or remove a restrictive occupancy condition.

 

POLICY HG9 - REMOVAL OF AGRICULTURAL AND OTHER OCCUPANCY CONDITIONS

Planning permission for the removal of a restrictive occupancy condition pertaining to an agricultural, forestry or other similar worker on a dwelling will only be given where it can be evidentially shown:

  1. That there is no longer a continued need for the property on the holding, or for the business;
  2. There is no long term need for a dwelling with restricted occupancy to serve local need in the locality; and
  3. The property has been marketed locally for an appropriate period (minimum 18 months) at an appropriate price, and evidence of marketing is demonstrated.
39. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 79. [back]
40. David Wilson Homes, 2018. UK wide figure. [back]
41. Savills, 2017 and Symonds & Sampson, Yeovil, 2018 [back]