Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

Geography, Population and Settlement Pattern

2.2 South Somerset is one of the largest Districts in the South West, forming the southern side of the County of Somerset. It accounts for nearly a third of the County's area, covering an area of 958 sq km (370 sq miles) and is predominantly rural in nature.

2.3 South Somerset has a population of around 158,000[1] and has a population density of 1.7 people per hectare, less than half the national average which illustrates its rural nature. South Somerset is a fast growing District, with population growth being almost twice the national average over the past 10 years with even larger increases predicted over the next 10-20 years. Yeovil is home to approximately a quarter of the District's total population, having some 43,000 residents;[2] other larger settlements include Chard, Crewkerne, Wincanton and Ilminster. However, over 40% of the District's population lives in settlements of fewer than 2,500 residents. South Somerset has a higher proportion of elderly people (over 65's) than the national average, but Yeovil and Chard do have a relatively young population. The District has a low black and minority ethnic (BME) population at 2.7% compared with 13% nationally.[3]

2.4 South Somerset consists of a mixture of sparsely inhabited rural areas, a network of villages, and a number of market towns of varying size and influence. South Somerset's principal town, Yeovil, is situated on the south eastern boundary of the County some 130 miles west of London, 40 miles south of Bristol and 25 miles south east of Taunton. The Regional Spatial Strategy, now revoked, proposed that Yeovil should be designated as one of 21 "Strategically Significant Cities or Towns" (SSCTs) across the South West region, by virtue of the sub-regional role and function that it performs. Yeovil's status as the largest settlement and key economic driver for South Somerset is clear.

1. ONS Mid 2007 estimate [back]
2. ONS Mid 2007 estimates [back]
3. Census 2001 [back]