Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028


8.62 Tourism contributes significantly to South Somerset's economy, accounting for 5% of local employment and an estimated GVA of £103,354,000 in 2010. The general trend for short breaks in the district continues (as it does nationally), with the average UK visitor spending 3 nights per trip in South Somerset[1].

8.63 South Somerset's 'product' is based primarily on the quality of its environment and charming market towns and villages, which offers much for the short stay tourist who generally seeks activities related to their hobbies and interests, and who require access to the countryside and locally distinctive cultural and historic activities.

8.64 In addition to its historic and environmental assets, South Somerset offers a number of dedicated visitor attractions such as Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton (113,400 visitors in 2009), Haynes Motor Museum, Sparkford and Montacute House (110,529 visitors in 2009) to name but a few. These cater well for day visitors, who have increased in number since 2006 (4% increase)[2]. The District is also an excellent centre for other tourist destinations, given its proximity to the Dorset coast and Sherborne and its surrounds for example.

8.65 National Guidance is supportive of tourism development, and in rural areas advocates the provision and expansion of facilities in appropriate locations where identified needs are not met by facilities in existing settlements. New and/or enhanced facilities should benefit rural businesses, communities and visitors without harming the character of the environment[3].

8.66 The Council recognises that the gains that can be made from tourism need to be maximised in a way which both benefits the 'consumer' and the local population, particularly in rural areas where shops, services and employment opportunities are continuing to decline and farmers have to diversify their businesses to remain viable.

8.67 To improve South Somerset's tourism offer and to extend the tourism season, support will be given to sustainable tourism developments that benefit businesses, communities and visitors, subject to their scale and location. Major new tourism proposals should be assessed in terms of overall sustainable development objectives. These objectives include:

  • enhancing the overall quality of the tourism offer in the District;
  • developing new tourism markets;
  • being readily accessible by non car means;
  • helping to extend the tourism season;
  • contributing significantly to the Districts economy;
  • increasing rather than just displacing visitors from other areas and attractions;
  • being located within or near Yeovil or the District's Market Towns to ensure a local workforce that can access the attraction effectively and sustainably; and
  • being well located to the national road route network.

8.68 Where proposals would result in the creation of accommodation that is capable of being occupied for residential purposes on a permanent basis, the council will impose conditions on any permission granted specifying its use as holiday accommodation only. Proposals that maintain the financial viability of existing tourist accommodation will be supported in accordance with Policy EP8. Minimising the visual prominence and landscape impact of expanded holiday and caravan sites or chalets will be important.

8.69 Statutorily designated natural or cultural heritage assets are recognised as having scope for tourism proposals subject to appropriate control that ensures the features for which they are designated are not compromised (see Policy EQ4: Biodiversity).

8.70 In all circumstances applications will have been expected to have considered sustainable transport opportunities and ensured access by foot, cycle and/or public transport where this is practical and achievable. Multi-use paths and bridleways also provide opportunities in rural locations to partake in tourist activities, and are a sustainable transport option in their own right.

Policy EP8: New and Enhanced Tourist Facilities

In order to sustain the vitality and viability of tourism in the District, new and enhanced tourist facilities will be supported where:

  • They are of a scale appropriate to the size and function of the settlement within which they are to be located;
  • The proposal ensures that the District’s tourist assets and facilities are accessible through sustainable modes of travel including cycling and walking;
  • They do not harm the District’s environmental, cultural or heritage assets;
  • They ensure the continued protection and resilience of the District’s designated nature conservation features;
  • They benefit the local community through access to facilities and services; and
  • There is no adverse impact on Natura 2000 and other internationally and nationally designated sites

There must be an identified need for tourist facilities in the open countryside, which is not met by existing facilities.


8.71 The Council will work in partnership to promote South Somerset through both 'Into Somerset' and the Somerset Tourism Partnership and will seek to obtain external funding to support the tourism industry. Planning will be supportive of appropriately located tourism facilities.

8.72 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy EP8:

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Developers and Landowners;
  • Tourism Bodies.
Monitoring Indicators Target
Number of annual visitor trips Strengthen the tourism offer of the District and increase the value of tourism in £s (increased GVA)
Average night per trip, per staying visitor.
Estimated GVA of tourism.
Increased average night per trip per staying visitor
1. Value of Tourism 2010, South West Tourism Alliance 2011 [back]
2. Value of Tourism 2010, South West Tourism Alliance 2011 [back]
3. NPPF March 2012 Paragraph 28 [back]