Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Economic Prosperity

2.3 Building upon the objectives of the Council’s Plan 2012 - 2015, there is a commitment to delivering a strong and diverse economy within the District. Diversification of businesses and encouraging small businesses to grow are priorities together with support for existing firms and encouraging inward investment particularly of high value jobs.

2.4 The District has more people, employers and workers than other parts of the County with over 6,000 businesses employing around 64,100 people[1]. It has a manufacturing history and its strengths include a strong economy, despite the economic climate, based mainly on a relatively small number of large manufacturing companies in the food processing and engineering industries. A number of world-class companies are located in the District, as is an experienced workforce.

2.5 The number of jobs in the District has grown from approximately 47,500 jobs in 1991 to 65,200 jobs in 2010[2], an average of 932 jobs per annum, although there have been fluctuations over this time. The rate of new business creation is similar to other parts of the County, but below national average (52% per 10,000 adults compared to 74% per 10,000 for England and Wales). On the other hand, failing business rates are lower than the national average, and new businesses have shown more resilience in South Somerset than in most parts of the County, region and country.

2.6 Manufacturing is very important to the District - the proportion of those employed in the manufacturing sector is almost twice the national average. This is principally because of the importance of Defence industries and expenditure with Agusta Westland, Thales and associated industries playing a significant role.

2.7 South Somerset accommodates three military establishments (RNAS Yeovilton, RNAS Merryfield and Langport Range and Training Area) thus making the District subject to the pressures, needs and benefits associated with the Defence Sector. These establishments vary greatly in their size and function, however, collectively they are considered to be of significant economic value to the District and community. Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, 5 miles north of Yeovil, near Ilchester has a major impact in particular and employs around 2,500 people on the base and draws employees from a wide catchment area including beyond the District boundary.

2.8 Yeovil is the prime economic driver within the District, with almost 32,000 employees[3] (equating to almost 50% of all of the District's jobs). It is the largest town and commercial and administrative centre in the 'A303 Corridor' economic zone identified in the Regional Economic Strategy and is a major employment centre providing many jobs in aerospace and associated engineering, including around 3,500 employees at 'Agusta Westland' in the manufacturing of helicopters. It is recognized as a “strategically significant town” particularly in terms of its economic role within the District and wider area.

2.9 Whilst the town has experienced strong employment growth, which has been driven by an increase in jobs in the business and financial services sector, the scale and value of the manufacturing economy to Yeovil cannot be understated. It is also notable that a high proportion of jobs in Yeovil are dependent upon Government expenditure within health (Yeovil District Hospital/ Primary Care Trust) and local government (the District Council / schools), in addition to defence spending. The local private sector economy is potentially capable of organic growth with positive factors such as a relatively stable economy with good skills and knowledge base.

2.10 Yeovil has a relatively high level of self-containment i.e. people living and working in the same settlement, 75%[4] - one of the highest levels in the South West - although there is notable in-commuting from the surrounding hinterland[5]. Yeovil is close to Sherborne in Dorset, due to both towns lying on the A30 and a main rail line and there is a notable interconnection between the two towns as a result.

1. BRES 2010 - number of employees in the District (excludes self employed persons) [back]
2. ABI and BRES Employee Analysis 1991-2010 [back]
3. BRES 2010 Employment figures [back]
4. Settlement Role & Function Study (2009) [back]
5. Travel to Work and Urban Areas of the South West Region (Analysis of 2001 Census data) South West Observatory 2005 [back]