Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Design/General Development

12.24 Paragraphs 56-68 of NPPF[1] set a clear national policy framework for promoting good design as a key element to achieving sustainable development and emphasises the indivisible link between good design and good planning.

12.25 It is self evident that all development in all locations should be designed to the highest standard. This is essential if we are to create functional, attractive places that people want to live in, work in and visit. Well designed buildings and places can contribute to the quality of life, increase economic vitality, achieve high environmental standards, reduce emissions and deliver a high quality public realm.

12.26 This principle is carried throughout the Local Plan, which sets the objective to develop new homes, infrastructure and all other land uses to the highest possible design standards. Future specific design guidance will come forward as supplementary planning documents or other appropriate planning document.

12.27 Policy EQ2 aims to ensure that development contributes to social, economic and environmental sustainability and makes a positive difference to people's lives to help to provide homes, jobs, and better opportunities for everyone. At the same time, it aims to protect and enhance the natural environment, and conserve the countryside and open spaces that are important to everyone.

12.28 All development will be expected to achieve high quality architectural and urban design standards, creating places that are attractive, durable and function well. All developments will be expected to achieve high environmental standards and levels of sustainability. All buildings should be designed to be fit for purpose, and adaptable in their use to suit changing occupier needs over time.

12.29 Development proposals also need to demonstrate a commitment to designing out crime through the creation of safe environments (both private and public) that benefit from natural surveillance, well overlooked streets and open spaces, appropriate lighting and other security measures.

12.30 South Somerset has published a range of Development Management advice guides to give guidance on how design should complement local architectural traditions and how sustainable construction techniques can be incorporated within the context of the existing built heritage. These and others produced during the plan period should be taken into account when considering development proposals. The Council also apply specific guidance from Government and Government sponsored organisations. The Landscape Character Assessment, and Town and Village Design Statements provide a more detailed local context for the evaluation and consideration of development proposals and should be taken into account where they have been produced. The Development Management advice will be reviewed and revised during the lifetime of the Development Plan and the most up to date material should be referred to.

12.31 To comply with climate change objectives the design of new development will change significantly over the coming years. Sustainable construction principles will affect layout, orientation of buildings, materials, design for minimum waste and conservation of water resources as well as fundamental appearance. It will be a challenge for the development industry and the local planning authority to both respect local context and distinctiveness and embrace new design principles. The Council will look to radical design solutions, where appropriate, to compliment and evolve local distinctivenes,s and recognise that respect for local context does not preclude contrasting modern design that can work with local context to provide a desirable and high quality living environment which can present the evolving historical and architectural story.

12.32 All development should ensure the most efficient use of land through the size and arrangement of plots, further determining the position, orientation, proportion, scale, height, massing and density of buildings as well as the treatment of the spaces around and between the buildings themselves. Consideration of the relationship to adjoining buildings and landscape features will be encouraged. Density should be justified as part of the overall design concept of development proposals and will also include appropriate consideration of private amenity spaces. Particular regard should be had for levels of housing demand and need and availability of sites, infrastructure and service availability, efficient use of land, accessibility, local area characteristics and other detailed design considerations (as indicated above) in the determination of the appropriate density on a particular site. Where appropriate proposals should include design codes and/or master plans.

12.33 The NPPF[2] requires strategic policy to deliver conservation and enhancement of the natural and historic environment, including the landscape. The District Council values the character and diversity of the South Somerset Landscape, and places particular emphasis upon the conservation of protected and designated landscapes. The Council thus intends to produce a Landscape Strategy, which will set out the key characteristics of the South Somerset Landscape, and provide guidance to developers and landowners on how the overall character of the district can be conserved and enhanced; and how the pattern and form of development can be sympathetically located and shaped. This will complement similar work in prospect, relating to the historic environment.

Policy EQ2: General Development

Development will be designed to achieve a high quality, which promotes South Somerset’s local distinctiveness and preserves or enhances the character and appearance of the district.

Development proposals, extensions and alterations to existing buildings, structures and places will be considered against:
  • Sustainable construction principles;
  • Creation of quality places;
  • Conserving and enhancing the landscape character of the area;
  • Reinforcing local distinctiveness and respect local context;
  • Creating safe environments addressing crime prevention and community safety;
  • Having regard to South Somerset District Council’s published Development Management advice and guidance; and
  • Making efficient use of land whilst having regard to:
    • Housing demand and need;
    • Infrastructure and service availability;
    • Accessability;
    • Local area character;
    • Site specific considerations
Innovative designs delivering low energy usage and/or wastage will be encouraged.
  • Developers must not risk the integrity of internationally, nationally or locally designated wildlife and landscape sites;
  • Development Proposals should protect the residential amenity of neighbouring properties; and
  • New dwellings should provide acceptable residential amenity space in accordance with Policy HW1.

12.34 It is anticipated that the Council will produce and update design guidance to ensure the highest possible standard of development throughout the District, which will maintain environmental quality, protect and enhance the character and landscape assets of the area. This will be delivered through the Development Management process.

12.35 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy EQ2:

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Developers and Landowners.
Monitoring Indicators Target
Avoidance of development that will impact on landscape areas
There should be no net loss of landscape assets
Peer review of design achieved in development A conclusion that development generally achieved at a minimum good standard but preferably very good
1. NPPF March 2012 Paragraphs 56-68 [back]
2. NPPF March 2012 [back]