Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028


4.43 The NPPF states that policies should take into account the need to provide housing in rural areas, in order to enhance or maintain their sustainability; and although the focus should be on existing towns and identified service centres, some new housing should be provided to meet identified local need in other villages[1].

4.44 It is important to ensure that the occupiers of new homes in Rural Settlements are able to live as sustainably as possible by having easy access to basic facilities that provide for their day to day needs. Therefore, new housing development should only be located in those Rural Settlements that offer a range (i.e. two or more) of the following services, or that provide these within a cluster of settlements:-

  • local convenience shop
  • post office
  • pub
  • children’s play area/sports pitch
  • village hall/community centre
  • health centre
  • faith facility
  • primary school.
In simple terms it is not realistic to expect a small hamlet with few services to be made a more sustainable location through new development.

4.45 Housing proposals should also, where possible, demonstrate how they would support existing facilities. The NPPF states that housing in rural areas should not be located in places distant from local services. The argument that extra housing units will support services is not considered tenable when there is clear evidence in the last 30 years of substantial rural settlement growth both nationally and in South Somerset, whilst rural services in both have continued to demonstrate steady decline[2].

4.46 Small infill development will not therefore be considered sustainable, however should it meet local need either for affordable housing, low cost market housing or a different form of housing in limited supply for locals (e.g. small bungalows for elderly local households to move to and remain in the village, or two bedroom accommodation for young households) then it may be considered more sustainable.

4.47 Meeting identified housing need refers to both market and affordable housing, although it will generally be expected that affordable housing is included as part of housing schemes proposed at Rural Settlements. National policy in the NPPF gives greater flexibility for local councils to set their own approach to delivering housing in rural areas. This includes considering whether allowing some market housing would enable the provision of significant additional affordable housing to meet local needs.

4.48 Residential proposals, including infill, will need to consider the current variety of housing in the Rural Settlement and ensure that they are making a positive contribution to the variety of housing in the settlement. For example, Rural Settlements that currently have a concentration of larger housing units would potentially benefit from a proposal for social rented, smaller family houses, and low cost market housing, which would help achieve a better overall variety of housing in the settlement and result in a more balanced community with better prospects for local people to obtain affordable housing or access a wider range of market housing. Policy HG5 specifically considers housing mix.

4.49 Affordable housing in Rural Settlements will generally be supported when accompanied with evidence of local need – further detail on affordable housing is set out in Policies HG3 and HG4.

4.50 Policy SS5 sets out the scale of housing development that should be delivered in the Rural Settlements tier of the settlement hierarchy. As a broad guide, and to be consistent with the spatial strategy, it is unlikely that development of 50 dwellings or greater will be acceptable in an individual Rural Settlement up to the year 2028, and in the majority of cases the scale will be much less. Each case must be assessed however on its merits and a development in excess of 50 dwellings could be justified in unusual circumstances. Annual monitoring of housing delivery in the Rural Settlements will be undertaken to ensure Policy SS2 is being applied as intended.

1. NPPF (March 2012) paragraph 54 - 55 [back]
2. Rural Services Report, SSDC, February 2012 [back]
Policy SS2: Development in Rural Settlements

Development in Rural Settlements (not Market Towns or Rural Centres) will be strictly controlled and limited to that which:

  • Provides employment opportunities appropriate to the scale of the settlement; and/or
  • Creates or enhances community facilities and services to serve the settlement; and/or
  • Meets identified housing need, particularly for affordable housing.
Development will be permitted where it is commensurate with the scale and character of the settlement, provides for one or more of the types of development above, and increases the sustainability of a settlement in general. Proposals should be consistent with relevant community led plans, and should generally have the support of the local community following robust engagement and consultation. Proposals for housing development should only be permitted in Rural Settlements that have access to key services.

4.51 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy SS2:

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Town and Parish Councils;
  • Developers and Landowners;
  • Registered Providers.
Monitoring Indicator    Target   
Net additional dwellings in Rural Settlements.    2,400 dwellings built in Rural Settlements over the Local Plan period.   
Housing developments in Rural Settlements.   New dwellings only permitted in Rural Settlements with two or more key services. 
Level of community facilities or services in Rural Settlements (Rural Services Survey).   Addition of new community facilities and services in association with development   
Delivery of employment land in Rural Settlements.   6 hectares of employment land developed in Rural Settlements over the Local Plan period.