Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Primary Market Towns - Wincanton

Spatial Portrait

6.86 Wincanton is situated in the east of the District towards the north of the Blackmore Vale overlooking the Cale valley. The town originated in Saxon times on the east bank of the River Cale, in the vicinity of the Church, and spread up the hill to the current High Street where burgage plots were established in the 13th Century. The town's location on the main Exeter to London medieval coach route encouraged steady growth from the Middle Ages onwards, and cloth manufacture, clock making and the dairy industry further boosted the local economy.


6.87 The A303 trunk road now defines the south edge of Wincanton and gives the town good road links to London and the south west of England. Nearby towns include Bruton, Castle Cary, Gillingham and Milborne Port within 10 miles, and Yeovil and Sherborne about 15 miles away. Wincanton's population of 4,978[1] makes it the 5th largest settlement in the District in terms of population. An area around the town centre and extending to the north is designated as a Conservation Area. Recent residential growth has taken place to the east of the town centre and on the Key Site at New Barns Farm to the south west, the main employment areas of the town are located to the south and south west of the town.

6.88 Wincanton is located within a rural setting and alongside nearby Castle Cary and Gillingham in North Dorset District, is important in serving the needs of residents in the rural east of South Somerset. In terms of retail, Wincanton has a range of independent stores as well as a couple national retailers in the town centre and a large supermarket to the south west. Other key services to be found in the town include a doctor's surgery, a hospital, a leisure centre, a library, banks and primary and secondary schools. There is a local desire to retain and build upon the existing town centre services. Local Plan policies clearly promote the vitality and viability of the town centre.

6.89 Wincanton has historic connections with logistics and distribution and continues to feature elements of the dairy industry and food production. The town enjoys some particular tourism assets with its famous racecourse and connections with 'Discworld'. Growth in lifestyle business has occurred in the last decade, associated with proximity to the South East and good connectivity. However the town is not overly dependent on any one single employer. Wincanton Racecourse plays a role in the local economy by bringing people to the town.

6.90 Public transport to the larger settlements of Yeovil, Taunton and Gillingham is relatively good with a regular bus service, although links to other parts of the District are less good. However, self-containment is reasonably high with just over half the population living and working in the town[2].

6.91 Some of the key environmental issues at Wincanton include areas of high flood risk to the south and to the north east, a high quality historic environment within the Conservation Area and the presence of European Protected Species.[3]

1. ONS Mid Year estimates 2010 - Urban Area [back]
2. South Somerset Settlement Role and Function Study Final report April 2009 [back]
3. The Distribution of European Protected Species in South Somerset, Guidance for Spatial Planning, November 2009 [back]