Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028


8.18 Offices (B1 and A2 uses[1]) are defined as a main town centre use in national guidance[2]. Their location in the town centre is beneficial, on the basis that office buildings tend to be used more intensively than other forms of employment use (based on the average ratio of number of workers to floorspace[3]) and therefore they generate more footfall in the town centre, thereby supporting its vitality and viability. Additionally, focusing office employment in a town centre location provides more people with greater opportunities to use public transport, thereby helping to reduce the need to travel by private car.

8.19 The ELR highlights that since 2006 of the 5.44 hectares (18,622 sq m) of office development that has taken place across the District, only 0.23 hectares (1,948 sq m) has taken place within the defined Town Centre.

8.20 In Yeovil over the last twenty years much of the office based employment growth has occurred outside the town centre (since 2006 approximately 10% of the office development has occurred in the town centre[4]). The relocation of the civic offices out of the town centre and location of other professional organisations have created a 'Western Extension'[5] which is separated from the town by Agusta Westland airfield complex.

8.21 The displacement of office workers out of the District's town centres needs to be limited in the future, and whilst it is important not to deter economic activity, focusing office based employment growth in town centre locations will deliver greater benefits in terms of the District's overall sustainability, particularly by supporting the vitality and viability of our town centres.

8.22 The NPPF requires offices to be located in the defined Town Centre and applications for office developments that are not in the defined Town Centre will be required to undertake a sequential assessment. Sites outside the Town Centre will need to demonstrate that they have, or can be made to have good access to a range of modes of transport. Sites within 300-400 metres of a bus stop are considered to have good access.[6] In this context, preference is given to out-of-centre sites that are located next to an established industrial estate or business park over other out of centre sites, as this will provide the opportunity to maximise the use of public transport.

Policy EP2: Office Development

Proposals for office development should firstly be located within the defined Town Centre. Where this is not possible because a sequential test demonstrates that there is no suitable, available and viable site, office developments may be acceptable on less central sites in the following order:

  • Edge-of-centre sites (within 300m of the edge of the defined Town Centre) - preference is given firstly to edge-of-centre sites, which are well connected, to the centre by pedestrian access; and
  • Out-of-centre sites with good access to sustainable transport modes - preference is given firstly to out-of-centre sites that are located next to compatible uses.

8.23 The Council, through its economic development function will encourage office-based businesses to develop in Town Centres and through its planning functions will resist the loss of office accommodation from them. 

8.24 Spatial planning will undertake a review of Town Centre boundaries and this will explore amongst other things the potential to include future office development within the Town Centre.

8.25 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy EP2: 

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Developers and Landowners.
Monitoring Indicators Target
Delivery of office development in Town Centres
Increase the percentage of office development delivered in the defined Town Centres and in particular Yeovil Town Centre.
Increase the net amount of A2 and B1 Uses in the defined Town Centre.
1. Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 as amended [back]
2. NPPF - Glossary [back]
3. English Partnerships Density Ratios [back]
4. SSDC Employment Land Monitoring April 2006 to March 2010 [back]
5. Yeovil Place Review, Ekosgen (March 2010) [back]
6. Based on Guidelines for Planning for Public Transport in Developments (1999) [back]