Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Primary Market Towns - Ilminster

Spatial Portrait

6.66 Ilminster is situated in the west of the District, close to the Devon, Dorset and Somerset border. The town centre is approximately one mile to the east of both the course of the River Isle, and the major road intersection of the A303 and the A358, which provides links to the regional road network. It is an historic market town of Saxon origin, which prospered on cloth manufacture in the 17th century.

6.67 The town is primarily a linear settlement running along the east to west through route (Station Road to Bay Hill), settled in the Shudrick Stream valley. The core of the town is concentrated upon the Market Place and church, which lie between the stream and lower slopes of Beacon Hill. Whilst the settlement grew around this core, recent residential development has seen the town spread to the north, south and southwest. A large employment area exists to the west of the town, and due to its proximity to the A303/A358, additional employment growth was proposed here in the South Somerset Local Plan 1991-2011, because of its strategic importance and potential to generate jobs, these allocations have been carried forward as Strategic Employment Sites in Policy EP1.

Ilminster 1

6.68 Ilminster is the fourth-largest settlement in South Somerset with a population of approximately 4,499 people.[1] This population has grown considerably in recent years, reflected in the fact that in seven years (2001-2008) the number of people living in the town increased by almost 20%.

6.69 Ilminster is located 12 miles from Taunton and 15 miles from Yeovil. The town acts as a strong functional and service centre for the surrounding area, providing some 2,000 jobs[2]. In retail terms, the centre is healthy and includes a range of national retailers, including a large supermarket, which opened in 2007. There are a range of community services and facilities, including for example a library, doctor's surgery, banks and primary education (a first and middle school).

6.70 The immediate landscape setting of the town is defined by three hills, Beacon Hill to the north, and Herne Hill to the southwest and Pretwood Hill to the southeast. These hills broadly contain the spread of the town and its immediate rural edge. To the west, the setting is less defined, with the town extending toward the open land of the River Isle valley, and an edge that is reinforced by the A303 corridor.

6.71 There is a regular, albeit limited bus service in Ilminster to Taunton, Yeovil, Chard and Crewkerne. The South Somerset Cycle Route passes though the town. The level of self-containment is satisfactory, with 48% of residents working locally (District average 51%). In order to help retain and build upon this self-containment it will be important that additional housing growth is balanced with employment growth.

6.72 Like other settlements in South Somerset, a key environmental issue is the value of Ilminster's historic environment - the historic layout and rich building styles, which are prominent in the town centre, and dominated by the Minster and its tower, form part of the Conservation Area designated in 1973.

6.73 Flooding is also an issue for the town. It is constrained by flood zone 3B along the length of the River Isle and to the north and south of the A303.

1. ONS Mid Year estimates 2010 - Urban Area [back]
2. BRES Employment Data 2010 [back]