Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Rural Settlements

4.31 The Local Plan focuses new development at the most sustainable locations in the District i.e. Yeovil, the Market Towns, and the Rural Centres. However, the rural nature of South Somerset means that there are many smaller settlements scattered across the District that do not meet the criteria necessary to be considered a Market Town or Rural Centre, but where some development to enhance their sustainability would be acceptable. The settlements in this tier of the hierarchy are known as 'Rural Settlements'.

4.32 Policy SS2 seeks to ensure the development needs of Rural Settlements can be met, whilst restricting the scale of such growth to be consistent with the spatial strategy of focussing most development at Yeovil, the Market Towns, and the Rural Centres.

4.33 The Rural Settlements tier of the settlement hierarchy covers a range of settlements that vary widely in size, role, function, local priorities, and constraints. Therefore, the interpretation of Policy SS2 will depend on applying these factors in considering proposals at each individual settlement; for example a proposal that is acceptable in one of the larger Rural Settlements such as Templecombe, which has a relatively strong employment function and good sustainable transport links with the presence of a train station, will be different to a smaller Rural Settlement such as Compton Dundon which does not have these features.

4.34 Applications for new development in Rural Settlements will need to include necessary supporting evidence to justify that the criteria of Policy SS2 have been met. Such proposals should be based upon meeting the needs of the Rural Settlement in question, and should undergo early engagement and preferably demonstrate support from the community, consistent with the Government's 'localism' agenda. Clearly the more types of development a proposal contains the more broad based a case can be made for sustainable development.

4.35 Given that Policy SS2 is starting from the premise of no development unless certain conditions are met, the evidence for development being of a strong sustainable nature is particularly important to provide. Furthermore the local community are best placed to determine local need and what will make their settlement more sustainable and there will be an expectation that development proposals have either come from the local community, or been tested and checked through local consultation and engagement.

4.36 There may be occasions when nearby settlements effectively provide local services for each other, acting as a 'cluster', meaning a case can be made for development in one settlement to meet the needs of the cluster. In these cases, clear evidence of the functional service relationship between the settlements will be needed.

4.37 The following sub-headings provide further explanation on meeting the three key criteria for the types of development that will be appropriate in Rural Settlements i.e. employment, local services and housing.