Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

Settlement Hierarchy

4.2 Planning Policy Statement 12 (PPS 12)[1] requires Core Strategies to make clear spatial choices about where development should go in broad terms whilst Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS 3)[2] requires Regional Spatial Strategy to identify broad strategic locations for new housing development so that need and demand for housing can be addressed in a way that reflects sustainable development principles. PPS3 goes on to require that a strategy for the planned location of new housing be made which contributes to the achievement of sustainable development. It requires the following criteria to be taken into account:-

  • Spatial vision for a local area (reflecting objectives in the RSS)
  • Evidence of need and demand for housing and viability of sites
  • Accessibility and opportunities for renewable and low carbon forms of energy supply
  • Physical constraints
  • Infrastructure and service availability and their viability
  • Need to provide housing in market towns and villages in order to maintain and enhance their sustainability
  • Need to develop mixed and sustainable communities

4.3 As set out in Chapter 1, it is important to ensure that the most sustainable option is considered. Sustainability Appraisal of alternative settlement strategy options is required to ensure that the strategy is appropriate in terms of environmental, economic and social implications, and cost, benefit and risks. The Sustainability Appraisal for the whole Core Strategy, including its policies, has been published alongside this Draft Core Strategy as a separate report and appendices.

4.4 The revoked RSS for the South West (Proposed Modifications) looked to provide policies on the location and scale of development to be taken forward by Local Authorities in their LDFs. The overall policy established that across the region, provision would be made to:

  • Meet identified housing need
  • Improve connectivity, accessibility and the functional efficiency of places
  • Enhance economic prosperity within environmental limits

4.5 To accommodate and manage growth in the most sustainable way, most new development will be provided for at Strategically Significant Cities and Towns (SSCTs) (for South Somerset this refers to Yeovil) with provision for more limited development to be made at market (and coastal) towns and in small towns and villages where this will increase self-containment and promote stronger communities.

4.6 This policy approach fully reflected the aspirations of national policy expressed through PPS3 and PPS12. The RSS identified Yeovil as a Strategically Significant Town because it is a focal point for economic activity and a wide range of services which are fundamental to quality of life. The need for travel can also be catered for by better and more reliable public transport. It is seen as a town that can achieve further development sustainably and promote a better balance between job growth and where people live. It has a high level of self containment. Critical mass and economies of scale and better use of existing infrastructure can be secured through Yeovil's continued designation as a Strategically Significant Town in this Core Strategy.

4.7 The RSS left designation of other settlements within a settlement hierarchy to the local planning authorities. It made a distinction between towns that play important roles in their local settings, that are able to provide jobs and services for their residents, and the residents of the surrounding areas and elsewhere. These towns and larger villages should be the focal points for locally significant development including the bulk of the District housing provision outside Yeovil. This growth should increase the self containment of these settlements and enhance their service role. These settlements should meet the following criteria:-

  • Have an existing concentration of business and employment with potential for expansion;
  • Have shopping, cultural, faith, educational, health and public services;
  • Have sustainable transport potential.

4.8 Development elsewhere in smaller villages is likely to be less sustainable and so should be geared to meet local needs and address affordable housing issues. Small scale economic activity is not considered out of keeping in these settlements which, according to the revoked RSS, should accommodate development that:

  • Supports economic activity that is appropriate to the scale of the settlement;
  • Extends the range of services to better meet the needs of the settlement and immediate surrounds;
  • Meets identified local needs.

4.9 The RSS did not distinguish additional levels in the hierarchy merely drawing attention to strict control of development in the countryside[3] as set out in Planning Policy Statement 7 (PPS7)[4] and throughout national planning policy.

4.10 Whilst the RSS is now revoked it still presents a strong planning rationale for determining settlement hierarchies based on fundamental national planning policy and aspiration. As such it is considered that the basic principles of the settlement hierarchy framework are robust for continued application in the development of the settlement hierarchy for South Somerset. The larger towns accommodating locally significant development are to be called Market Towns whilst other settlements which act as focal points for their areas are to be called Rural Centres. The terms Market Towns and Rural Centres used in this Core Strategy refer specifically in planning terms to the different scale and nature of development and growth and service provision sought in the two categories of settlement.

4.11 The Sustainable Community Strategy identifies the importance of Yeovil and the towns to be able to attract and retain visitors, consumers and high quality sustainable businesses and employment. The emerging Spatial Strategy and Vision for South Somerset recognises Yeovil as the prime economic driver within the District and a centre for employment and service provision well linked to the rest of the District.

4.12 Outside Yeovil the Sustainable Community Strategy seeks Market Towns and Rural Centres to promote the basis of a thriving and diversified economy and be a local focus for the surrounding area.

4.13 The settlement hierarchy, by focussing development and growth in these settlements through the settlement hierarchy, will serve to help deliver this Vision. It will be through the settlement strategy and hierarchy that sustainable communities will be delivered, services provided, the economy promoted, access improved and a balanced housing market provided hence contributing to delivery of strategic objectives 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of this Core Strategy.

1. PPS12: Local Spatial Planning, June 2008 [back]
2. PPS3: Housing, June 2010 [back]
3. 'Countryside' refers in this case to all locations outside of Yeovil and the Market Towns and Rural Centres [back]
4. PPS7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas, August 2004 [back]