Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

Location for Urban Extension

5.17 The now revoked South West RSS planned for an urban extension(s) located in an area of search on the edge of Yeovil. This considered a ‘360 degree’ area of search unconstrained by County or District boundaries. A Sustainability Appraisal (SA) process has been used to identify the proposed urban extension for Yeovil and demonstrates that the chosen location is the most appropriate given reasonable alternatives.

5.18 Using the SA objectives developed by Scott Wilson within the Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report[1] the first stage of the SA of Yeovil’s Strategic Growth Options was carried out in December 2009.[2] This report identified a 360-degree area of search for study, divided the search area into six growth options for further analysis and carried out a constraints mapping exercise. The six growths options then went through the SA process to provide a provisional score for further discussions.

5.19 In December 2009 the Council invited Yeovil Town Council, neighbouring Parish Councils and local stakeholders including West Dorset District Council to a pair of workshops to identify potential growth options for an urban extension, or extensions, and to use the SA process to consider advantages and disadvantages of possible locations. As an outcome of this process eight possible locations for an urban extension were identified. A further three locations were also identified at a later stage to ensure the full ‘360 degree’ area of search was maintained.

5.20 An updated SA of Yeovil’s Strategic Growth Options was prepared in February 2010[3] forming a continuation of the SA process by developing and refining options and assessing effects. Through the deletion of duplicate layers and adjustments to reflect constraints boundaries, the eleven options were reduced to six that were then Sustainability Appraised. The report recommends that the northern two options towards Lufton and Yeovil Marsh/Mudford were least favourable to take new development and would potentially have a detrimental impact on the setting of Montacute House Park and Garden.  It can be anticipated that any new development to the north of Yeovil will need to be access via the A3088 at Lufton, due to insufficient capacity on existing roads, and that such a new road would, in turn, generate significant road infrastructure improvements and traffic movements within the vicinity.

5.21 Growth to the north of Yeovil is discounted principally because these locations would significantly increase private transport use, having a detrimental impact on existing road congestion. The County Highway Authority have indicated that any road option traversing the northern fringe accessing to the A3088 would perform poorly because of the huge cost of necessary highway works, the distance from the town centre, and the likelihood of this leading to an overtly car-bound travel behaviour pattern that would not be condusive to the sustainable extension aspirations of the Core Strategy.

5.22 The Highways Agency have indicated that the further away growth can be located from the A303 the less impact it is likely to have on its safety and effectiveness. They have also indicated that any improvements needed to the A303 would need to be entirely funded by the developer(s). The northern options would have a detrimental impact on the setting of Brympton D'Evercy and Montacute House and its Parkland as indicated above. The northern options are also located furthest from existing community facilities within the town centre and there are few opportunities to improve town centre connectivity via walking or cycling or encourage a healthy lifestyle through use of non car borne modes.

5.23 These options would also have little benefit to existing education deficit in secondary education in the south of the town and be least accessible to the towns' existing employment centres in the south, east and west. Development at Lufton and Yeovil Marsh / Mudford would be located furthest from the mainline railway stations and are least likely locations to encourage public transport use. These directions for growth also present difficulties from a landscape perspective with limited opportunity to avoid impact on high landscape settings. These locations were considered least likely to achieve benefits from passive solar gain or promote energy efficiency.  The full assessment of the different locations is set out in the Sustainability Appraisal.

5.24 Through further consultation with key stakeholders, two of the remaining four southern options were combined to remove overlaps. In addition land immediately to the west of AugustaWestland airfield needs to be safeguarded from built development. The SA of Yeovil’s Strategic Growth Options (August 2010) concludes that the most sustainable three growth options are; Brympton / Coker; East Coker / Barwick / Keyford and Dorset / Over Compton. Figure 7: Yeovil Urban Extension Areas of Search shows these three options. It should be recognised that for any expansion of the urban area difficult decisions will need to be made.

5.25 The three growth Options are not fixed but are indicative and there is flexibility for the final option to sit astride the border of two options should this be considered a more appropriate course of action.

5.26 The following section summarises some of the positive and negative effects for each of the three Yeovil Growth options emerging from the Sustainability Appraisal process, but the full SA should be referred to for the wider picture.  The points made are not in any order of priority.

1. South Somerset, Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report (September 2009) [back]
2. South Somerset, Sustainability Appraisal of Yeovil’s Strategic Growth Options (December 2009) [back]
3. South Somerset, Sustainability Appraisal of Yeovil’s Strategic Growth Options (February 2010) [back]
Figure 7: Yeovil Urban Extension Areas of Search

Option: East Coker/Keyford/Barwick

5.27 Positives

  • The Highways Agency considers option acceptable;
  • Option is considered viable by Somerset County Council Transport Department;
  • Option is located in close proximity to Goldenstones Leisure Centre and the Yeovil Country Park maximising opportunities to encourage healthy living;
  • Option offers an opportunity to redress the secondary education in-balance within the town;
  • Option is located a short distance from the town centre (albeit via Hendford Hill /Ninesprings enscarpment which will form a barrier) this option is considered to offer opportunities for walking and cycling;
  • Option would facilitate linkages to the National Cycle Network Route 26;
  • Option is located on a south facing slope maximising opportunities for passive solar gain and energy saving measures through passivhaus standards;
  • Option is located in an area of medium to high capacity to accommodate built development from a landscape perspective;
  • Option is located in close proximity to the Lynx Trading Estate and AgustaWestlands encouraging local employment opportunities;
  • Option will bring Yeovil Junction Station into the Yeovil Urban Area strengthening use of rail, economic development prospects and business case for bus links;
  • Option also offers links with Yeovil Pen Mill Station;
  • Option presents an opportunity to enhance Yeovil Country Park as an Urban Park maximising community use;
  • Option presents an opportunity to establish a high frequency figure of eight bus route between the outlying stations, town centre and Urban Extension;
  • There is sufficient land available for development;
  • Historic Environmental Assessment identified land to accommodate the urban extension can be found without detriment to the historic asset within the wider option area.

5.28 Negatives

  • Option will result in a loss of Grade 1 agricultural land;
  • Option is located in close proximity to Barwick Country House a Grade II* Listed Building and Newton Surmaville a Grade I Listed Building, both houses are within designated Historic Parks and Gardens;
  • Option will impact on the separate identity of the nearby villages of North Coker, Barwick and Stoford. Note: settlement coalescence will be avoided;
  • Option will have a negative impact on local biodiversity including resident bat populations;
  • Option is constrained by steep topography;
  • Option constrained in part by flooding;
  • Option is constrained by a single 'A' road access (but has multiple unclassified road links);
  • Cost of southern bypass is prohibitive for a road around the south.

Option: Brympton/Coker

5.29 Positives

  • The Highways Agency considers option acceptable;
  • Option is considered viable by Somerset County Council Transport Department;
  • Option is located on in part low-grade agricultural land;
  • Option is not unduly constrained by flooding;
  • Option is located on an area of medium to high capacity to accommodate built development from a landscape perspective;
  • Option has easy access to cycle routes encouraging healthy lifestyle choices;
  • There is sufficient land available for development.

5.30 Negatives

  • Option may constrain operation of the AgustaWestland Airfield with unknown economic consequences. Development would be constrained to meet noise, bird and other requirements;
  • Option is located in close proximity to Brympton D’Evercy Manor House a Grade I Listed Building and designated Historic Park & Garden as well as West Coker Manor;
  • Option is not located near any mainline Railway Stations and would not encourage sustainable commuting opportunities;
  • Option presents few opportunities to establish viable bus routes;
  • Option is located largely on a north-facing slope offering only limited opportunities to maximise passive solar gain;
  • Option is constrained by a single A road access and costs of potential Highways Agency requirements and Western Corridor Strategy;
  • Option is poorly related to the town centre;
  • Option will have a negative impact on local biodiversity including resident bat populations;
  • Option will result in the loss of some Grade 1 agricultural land;
  • Option will impact on the separate identity of the nearby villages of Montacute, Odcombe, East Coker and West Coker. Note: settlement coalescence will be avoided;
  • Historic Environmental Assessment identifies difficulties in accommodating the Urban Extension directly adjacent the urban area without undue impact on the historic assets of the wider option area.

Option: West Dorset/Over Compton

5.31 Positives

  • Option is located in an area of medium to high capacity to accommodate built development from a landscape perspective;
  • Option is located in close proximity to the Yeovil Pen Mill Trading Estate encouraging local employment opportunities, subject to access being provided;
  • Option will benefit from close proximity to Yeovil Pen Mill Train Station maximising opportunities for sustainable commuting.

5.32 Negatives

  • Option will impact on the separate identity of the nearby villages of Over Compton & Bradford Abbas. Note: settlement coalescence will be avoided;
  • Option will have a negative impact on local biodiversity including resident bat populations;
  • Option has unknown transport implications having not been fully surveyed by Somerset County Council Transport Department (as it lies within the remit of Dorset County Council as Highway Authority);
  • Option is bisected by rail and river, requiring bridges to access and introducing safety/noise constraints;
  • Option is located largely on a west facing slope offering only limited opportunities to maximise passive solar gain;
  • Option constrained in part by flooding;
  • Option is constrained by a single 'A' road access which also bisects the site;
  • Option is located in close proximity to Newton Surmaville a Grade I Listed Building a designated Historic Park and Garden;
  • Option is constrained by steep topography;
  • Insufficient land has been identified for development;
  • Historic Environmental Assessment identifies difficulties in accommodating the Urban Extension directly adjacent to the urban area.

5.33 The West Dorset/ Over Compton Option is located in West Dorset and would require consent of the adjacent Local Planning Authority and significant cross border working arrangements; the urban extension would need to be promoted within the West Dorset Core Strategy.

What is the Council's Preferred Option for Growth?

5.34 The Council’s preferred direction for growth is the East Coker/Keyford/Barwick Option. This southern direction has not been developed in the past in favour of the less constrained north, east and western directions because of the steep topography and Historic Country Parks in the southerly direction.

5.35 This long-standing presumption against development to the south is now being challenged by this Core Strategy because all the other directions have reached similar natural barriers. Development to the north has reached the top of the escarpment; a key visual barrier, to the east development boarders the railway and River Yeo divorcing any development from the rest of the town and to the west Brympton D’Evercy and Montacute House are of great historical value and require protection.

5.36 As Yeovil has now expanded within its natural limits there is a circle of physical, natural and historical barriers that have taken significant consideration by the Council before they are breeched. The southern option is, however, considered the most preferable because amongst the range of positives listed above this Option presents the best opportunity to readdress the balance of development around the town centre although the constraints in this area, including high grade agricultural land, are recognised.

5.37 The Preferred Option for the strategic location for growth for Yeovil is set out in the Proposals Map (relevant Inset).

Policy YV2 Yeovil Urban Extension
 

Land is required for the Yeovil Urban Extension for strategic growth to provide for the following within the plan period;

  • 3719 dwellings;
  • 23 hectares of employment land;
  • Secondary and primary school provision;
  • Identified community and transport Infrastructure within the South Somerset Infrastructure Delivery Plan.

The preferred option for the strategic location for Yeovil Urban Extension is located on land to the south of Yeovil (in the vicinity of East Coker/Keyford/Barwick).

The Yeovil Extension will be developed to Eco-town standards as listed with the Eco-town PPS the supplement to PPS1. Adoption of Eco-town standards is subject to viability assessment.