Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development

1.13 The Framework recognises that sustainable development is about change for the better. It is about positive growth, making economic, environmental and social progress for this and future generations. To achieve sustainable development, economic, social and environmental gains should be sought jointly. They are mutually dependent.

1.14 In line with Government policy advice, the Council has adopted a positive approach in seeking to meet the objectively assessed development needs of the District. The policies in the Local Plan provide a clear framework to guide development that creates positive, sustainable growth, therefore following the presumption in favour of sustainable development, enabling proposals that accord with the Plan objectives to be approved without delay. This policy is therefore at the heart of decision making when assessing planning applications.

1.15 There may be instances where the Plan is silent or in future years, policies become out of date. To enable the Council to continue to take a sustainably positive approach to decision making, the applicant will need to assist by submitting evidence to demonstrate how the benefits of the proposal outweigh any adverse impacts.

1.16 This is a significant challenge in a rural district such as South Somerset, where the population is so dispersed. The challenge here is to reconcile the need to deliver sufficient jobs and homes, supported by appropriate infrastructure to meet South Somerset's needs, whilst conserving the natural and built environment, minimising the need to travel and addressing climate change. National policy gives communities greater opportunities to engage in neighbourhood planning[1], to assist in shaping their own local areas to achieve this objective.

1.17 Sustainability Appraisal (SA) of the Local Plan has been undertaken, as required by Section 29(2) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and incorporating Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as required by the SEA Directive[2]. SA and SEA are tools to ensure that the social, economic and environmental effects of the Local Plan are fully considered. The SA Report is published alongside the Local Plan and assesses proposed policies against sustainability criteria that have in turn been assessed against the 14 sustainability objectives of the Sustainable Community Strategy. The Local Plan has been shaped by the SA which also outlines the reasons for selecting proposals from alternatives considered and the measures needed to prevent, reduce and offset as far as practical any significant effects of implementing the Plan.

1. Neighbourhood plans are defined in the NPPF as “a plan prepared by a Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum for a particular neighbourhood area (made under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004) [back]
2. Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004: European Directive 2001/42/EC “ on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment” – the SEA Directive [back]
Policy SD1: Sustainable Development

When considering development proposals the Council will take a proactive approach to reflect the presumption in favour of sustainable development contained in the National Planning Policy Framework and seek to secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions within the District.

Planning applications that accord with the policies in this Local Plan (and, where relevant, with polices in neighbourhood plans) will be approved without delay, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Where there are no policies relevant to the application or relevant policies 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:-
  • 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; or
  • Specific policies in that Framework indicate that development should be restricted or refused.
Where necessary the Council will work with applicants to improve proposals so that they are capable of being approved.

1.18 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy SD1:

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Developers and Landowners.
Monitoring Indicators    Target   
Grant application within relevant target dates   Approved applications within target dates unless there are mitigating circumstances