Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

9 Economic Prosperity

9.1 Sustainable economic growth is the Government's overarching objective and Planning Policy Statement 4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth (PPS4: 2009) aims for Local Planning Authorities to adopt a positive approach to economic development in both urban and rural locations and ensure a good supply of economic land.

9.2 PPS4 requires local planning authorities to undertake an Employment Land Review (ELR) and a Retail Assessment in order to establish the need for employment land and main town centre uses locally.

9.3 "Shaping South Somerset", the District's Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) contains three long-term goals of direct relevance to the economic prosperity section of the Core Strategy. They are to be achieved by 2026 and are:

  • Goal 5: High performance local economy - a competitive, high performance economy that is diverse, adaptable and resource efficient.
  • Goal 7: Distinctiveness - a thriving Yeovil, market town and rural economy environment able to attract and retain visitors, consumers and high quality sustainable businesses.
  • Goal 10: Energy - move towards a carbon neutral economy.

9.4 These goals are taken forward in the Strategic Objectives of this Core Strategy and in particular numbers 5, 7 and 8.

9.5 Each SCS goal has linked strategic priorities, which are medium-term objectives to achieving the long-term goals. Those of relevance, which the Core Strategy will support, are:

  • Strategic Priority 15: Improve the diversity and adaptability of businesses (including rural businesses) as we move towards a low carbon economy.
  • Strategic Priority 19: Support the continued development of distinctive local economies.
  • Strategic Priority 20: Deliver the Visions for Yeovil, Chard and the other market towns and rural communities supported by high quality community involvement.

9.6 This chapter of the Core Strategy will support the Sustainable Community Strategy's goals and priorities through policies and develop the themes in PPS4, which will ensure the provision of land for employment, measures to ensure the vitality and viability of our Town Centres, the diversification of the rural economy and support for sustainable tourism.

9.7 PPS4 sets out the uses which are considered appropriate for town centres which include retailing and leisure uses, both of which are important to the economic well-being of the area. Evidence from the Retail Study shows that incomes and expenditure have grown strongly in South Somerset over the last 20 years with retail expenditure growing faster than incomes. The current economic downturn will, however, make the continuation of such trends much less likely. There has been a trend of increased mobility leading to larger centres being favoured over smaller ones with a corresponding loss of market share for the smaller centres in the District. This trend is re-enforced by the growing number of retailers especially convenience retailers requiring larger shop units to meet their shop format needs.

9.8 Growth in leisure spending points to the need for a mix of land uses within centres and the importance of choice for shoppers to draw them to centres. Coffee shops, quality restaurants, bars and leisure opportunities are increasingly important in drawing people into a centre and keeping them longer and in encouraging return trips. This is also important to combat the growth in internet competition, as is more direct management of centres to address the challenges in a focussed way. All of these trends are favouring larger centres over smaller ones.

9.9 Rural businesses and agriculture are an integral part of the economy and the decline in the agricultural economy has stimulated many farm businesses to seek new ways to remain viable, which has led to real successes through tourism, adopting new crops or farming methods and developing a growing local produce market.

9.10 Tourism contributes 4% of the District's employment and has the potential to generate more income in light of the need to promote 'greener' more local holiday opportunities.[1] It is an important part of the economy within the District particularly in the more rural areas and plays an important role in farm diversification schemes. Schemes promoting the District tourism uses and boosting the economy through provision of tourist attractions, supporting facilities and accommodation will be supported subject to appropriate location and design and where in line with other policies of the Core Strategy.

9.11 There is no up-to-date South Somerset Economic Development Strategy at the present time, although one is in the process of being undertaken. There is also a Yeovil Economic Assessment being prepared. Key findings from the initial assessment highlight that diversification of the manufacturing base, attracting new investment and upskilling of the workforce are all of crucial importance, whilst changing the perception of Yeovil so that it can attract new investment and retain talented people.

9.12 The Economic Development Strategy will develop these economic themes further by setting out a vision for the future of economic development across the District and Yeovil in particular and by identifying the skills required by the population to achieve that vision. As with the Sustainable Community Strategy, the Core Strategy and Economic Development Strategy will support each other to deliver their joint aims.

9.13 The need for the provision of employment land has been established in the Settlement Strategy chapter of this document.

9.14 The Core Strategy does not allocate employment land in all settlements, only the strategic sites are identified (see Policy EP1 and explanatory text). The settlement visions suggest broad locations for the growth of both employment and residential development, but specific sites, unless strategic, are not identified. Depending on the circumstances, bringing employment land forward through mixed-use schemes may be supported. The Development Management process and monitoring should ensure sufficient land comes forward.

9.15 The figures identified in Policy SS5 provide the 20-year supply of employment land required by Policy ES2 of the now revoked RSS. In line with the Government's 'plan, monitor and manage' approach to managing the supply of land, employment land will be monitored annually and the ELR will be critically reviewed on a 3 year rolling basis with the supply of employment land revised accordingly. This will ensure that supply continues to meet the needs of businesses and the District's current and longer-term needs for economic development.

1. SSDC Recession Strategy, May 2009 [back]