South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18)

4 Delivering Sustainable Development


4.1 The achievement of sustainable development is at the heart of the NPPF, this is through both plan-making and decision-taking. Achieving sustainable development means the planning system has three interlinked objectives; an economic objective, a social objective and an environmental objective.

4.2 The presumption in favour of sustainable development has informed the policies and site allocations in this Plan. They combine to deliver a positive and flexible approach to meeting the housing and economic development needs of the District and to ensure that development proposals that are sustainable are approved without delay.

4.3 The NPPF[1]  confirms that the development plan is the starting point for decision-making. Where a planning application conflicts with an up-to-date development plan, including any neighbourhood plans that form part of the development plan, permission should not normally be granted unless material considerations in a particular case mean the plan should not be followed.[2]

1. NPPF, 2019 [back]
2. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 12. [back]

Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development

4.4 Policy SD1 reflects the presumption in favour of sustainable development set out in paragraph 11 of the NPPF. It provides the overarching framework to ensure a positive and flexible approach is taken to new development whilst protecting designated areas and heritage assets.[3]

4.5 Where there is a neighbourhood plan in place[4] , the policies considered most important to determining a planning application are not considered to be out of date if all of the following apply:

  1. The neighbourhood plan became part of the development plan two years or less before the date on which the decision (on the planning application) is made.
  2. The neighbourhood plan contains policies and allocations to meet its identified housing requirement.
  3. The Council has at least a three year supply of deliverable housing sites (against its five year housing supply requirement, including the appropriate buffer).
  4. The Council’s housing delivery was at least 45% of that required[5]  during the previous three years.

4.6 In all other circumstances the Local Plan or neighbourhood plan polices which are the most important for determining the planning application are considered to be out of date if the Council cannot demonstrate a five-year housing land supply. This means that part iii) of Policy SD1 and paragraph 11d) of the NPPF apply.

4.7 The “policies in the Framework” referred to in part iii) 1 of Policy SD1 are those set out in footnote 6 of the NPPF and relate to those policies on habitats sites (listed in paragraph 176 of the NPPF) and /or designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty, a National Park (or within the Broads Authority) or defined as Heritage Coast, irreplaceable habitats; designated heritage assets (and other heritage assets of archaeological interest referred to in footnote 63 of the NPPF); and areas at risk of flooding or coastal change. 


  1. When considering development proposals the Council will take a positive approach that reflects the presumption in favour of sustainable development contained in the National Planning Policy Framework. It will work proactively with applicants to jointly find solutions which means that proposals can be approved wherever possible, and to secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions in the area.
  2. Where planning applications accord with the policies in this Local Plan Review (and, where relevant, with policies in Neighbourhood Plans) the Council will grant permission without delay unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
  3. Where there are no relevant polices, or the relevant policies which are most important for determining the application are out-of-date at the time of making the decision, then the council will grant permission unless material considerations indicate otherwise, taking into account whether:
  1. The application of policies in the Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a clear reason for refusing the development proposed; or
  2. Any adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the National Planning Policy Framework taken as a whole.
3. NPPF, 2019. Paragraph 11 with reference to footnote 6. [back]
4. Formally adopted or ‘made’ by the District Council [back]
5. Assessed against the Housing Delivery Test from November 2018 onwards. [back]