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The Sedgemoor Local Plan

The Sedgemoor Local Plan 2011-2032 was formally adopted on the 20 February 2019. It forms part of the development plan for the council and is a main consideration in the determination of planning applications.

The council’s existing Local Plan (Core Strategy 2006-2027) was adopted in 2011 and has been fundamental in influencing the significant change the district has experienced since then.

It now needs a review to respond to new opportunities and pressures such as a rising population, housing growth, boosting the economy and delivering infrastructure for residents and businesses. The Local Plan review also addresses changes as a result of new national legislation. This includes the Localism Act (2011) and new national planning policy in the form of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Sedgemoor Settlement Hierarchy

In the Sedgemoor Local Plan 2011-2032, each town and village has been evaluated and placed into the Tier System below. Each Tier has its own planning policies with regard to the development of housing.

Settlement CategorySettlementsSummary
Settlement CategoryPrincipal Town SettlementsBridgwaterSummaryBy a significant margin Bridgwater is Sedgemoor’s largest settlement with comprehensive provision of facilities, services, large scale employment and good transport links.
Settlement CategoryMarket Towns SettlementsBurnham-on-Sea & HighbridgeSummary Considered jointly as a single urban area Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge provide a similar range of services and facilities, albeit not to the same depth as the Principal Town. Similarly it benefits from large scale employment and good connectivity in terms of rail and motorway access.
Settlement CategoryTier 1SettlementsCheddar, North PethertonSummary While having a more rural setting and the context of AONB’s both Cheddar and North Petherton benefit from a breadth of good quality services and facilities serving not only their settlement but also the wider area.
Settlement CategoryTier 2Settlements Axbridge, Cannington, Nether Stowey, Puriton, Wedmore, WoolavingtonSummaryThese rural settlements are considered to still have a good range of services that meet the needs of both the settlement itself but also close neighbouring smaller settlements. Compared to other rural settlements further down the hierarchy they are also relatively unconstrained by key environmental constraints, such as flood risk.
Settlement CategoryTier 3Settlements Ashcott, Berrow, Brean, Brent Knoll, Combwich, Lympsham, Mark, Middlezoy, Pawlett, Shipham, Spaxton, Wembdon, West Huntspill, WestonzoylandSummarySmaller and more rural settlements with adequate but basic levels of key local services and facilities necessary to meet the needs of the community. A number of settlements are also more constrained by certain environmental considerations, such as flood risk and AONB.
Settlement CategoryTier 4Settlements Bawdrip, Blackford, Catcott, Chedzoy, Chilton Polden, Cossington, North Newton, Othery, Shapwick, Weare/Lower WeareSummaryRural locations with more limited services and facilities. They are not considered to have a full range of local services and are therefore more dependent on neighbouring settlements for many essential needs.
Settlement CategoryCountrysideSettlementsSummary The remainder of the district is classified as countryside where development will be appropriately controlled. Smaller villages and hamlets located in the countryside are considered to have extremely limited facilities and not considered to be sustainable locations for growth.

Policy T2a

Tier 2 Settlements – Housing

Housing proposals for redevelopment, infill, subdivision and conversion within existing settlement boundaries will be supported where it is appropriate to the scale, design and character of the existing community.

Excluding existing commitments as of April 2015, the Tier 2 settlements should plan to accommodate the following minimum levels of growth:

Settlement Minimum housing to allocateTotal Minimum Growth 2011-2032*
Settlement AxbridgeMinimum housing to allocate70Total Minimum Growth 2011-2032*74
Settlement CanningtonMinimum housing to allocate150Total Minimum Growth 2011-2032*163
Settlement Nether StoweyMinimum housing to allocate50Total Minimum Growth 2011-2032*75
Settlement PuritonMinimum housing to allocate100Total Minimum Growth 2011-2032*163
Settlement WedmoreMinimum housing to allocate50Total Minimum Growth 2011-2032*116
Settlement WoolavingtonMinimum housing to allocate150Total Minimum Growth 2011-2032*225
Settlement Total Minimum housing to allocate570Total Minimum Growth 2011-2032*816

*(including completions existing commitments and opportunities within settlement boundaries as of April 2015)

Until sufficient sites meet at least the minimum levels of growth set out in Table 5.1 (identified in a neighbourhood plan or allocated in a subsequent allocations document), proposals outside of the settlement boundaries that meet all of the following criteria will be supported:

  • Sites should normally be identified as opportunity sites within the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (updated annually)
  • The scale of development should be appropriate to the size, accessibility, character and physical identity of the settlement taking into account the minimum levels of growth above
  • The development should be well related to and complement the existing built form of the settlement, providing opportunities for walking and cycling to local services and facilities
  • Development that is likely to have a significant transport impact will be supported by appropriate assessments as referred to under Policy D14
  • Support where appropriate access to local job opportunities, including retention of existing local job opportunities as well as on-site provision
  • Contribute to local infrastructure including education, service provision, accessible open space and community facilities
  • Maintains and where appropriate incorporate enhancements to the local environment, landscape, and historic environment, including where appropriate habitat creation and community woodland planting
  • Provide affordable housing in accordance with the Council’s requirements

Meaningful and robust engagement and consultation with local stakeholders including Parish or Town Councils will be encouraged.

Policy T2b

Tier 2 Settlements – Unmet Local Housing Need

Where following the allocation or commitment of the minimum levels of growth set out in Policy T2a (table 5.1) there remains an unmet local affordable housing need. Mixed tenure affordable and market housing proposals on sites specifically released for that purpose will be supported outside, but well related to settlement boundaries only where it is demonstrated that it meets all of the following criteria:

  • It fulfils an identified local housing need for affordable housing as evidenced by an up to date assessment of local housing needs agreed with the council
  • The affordable housing provision (notwithstanding the requirements of Policy D6: Affordable Housing) will normally be a minimum of 40% of the total number of housing units provided on the site. Unless provision of alternative local infrastructure priorities is agreed.
  • The scale of development should be appropriate to the size, accessibility, character and physical identity of the settlement
  • The proposal is well related to and complements the existing built form of the settlement, providing opportunities for walking and cycling to local services and facilities
  • The affordable housing should form part of the overall development and be well integrated with any market housing
  • Supports where appropriate access to local job opportunities, including opportunities for on-site provision
  • The development appropriately contributes to local infrastructure priorities identified, for example, in Neighbourhood plans or in agreement with Town/Parish Councils

Maintains and where appropriate incorporates enhancements to the local environment, landscape, and historic environment, including where appropriate habitat creation and community woodland planting.

Meaningful and robust engagement and consultation with the Town, Parish Council, local community and other local stakeholders will be encouraged. This is to make sure that the planning impacts identified by the local community have been appropriately addressed as far as possible.

Any such proposal that includes affordable housing will be supported by a local lettings policy.

Exceptionally sites that deliver other local infrastructure priorities instead of affordable housing as agreed with the relevant Town/Parish Council may be acceptable subject to the considerations above.

In accordance with Policy S3, local infrastructure will normally be secured through the use of an S.106 agreement. Where such an agreement results in the scheme becoming unviable, the Council will consider the use of the adopted Exceptional Relief Policy. This is subject to any application meeting the necessary regulatory requirements.

Where necessary proposals will be required to include assessment under the Habitats Regulations and have been informed by its findings.

Policy T3a

Tier 3 Settlements – Housing

Housing proposals for redevelopment, infill, subdivision and conversion within existing settlement boundaries (as defined on the Policies Map) will be supported where it meets all of the following:

  • It does not involve the loss of, or unacceptable harm to spaces or facilities (public or private) which contribute to the character and role of the settlement
  • It is appropriate to the scale, design and existing character of the settlement
  • It would not unacceptably harm the character or amenity of any nearby property

Outside but well related to settlement boundaries, mixed tenure affordable and market housing proposals on sites specifically released for that purpose will be supported only where it is demonstrated that it meets all of the following criteria:

It fulfils an identified local housing need for affordable housing as evidenced by an up to date assessment of local housing needs agreed with the council;

The affordable housing provision (notwithstanding the requirements of Policy D6: Affordable Housing) will normally be a minimum of 40% of the total number of housing units provided on the site. Unless the provision of alternative local infrastructure priorities is agreed;

  • The scale of development should be appropriate to the size, accessibility, character and physical identity of the settlement
  • The proposal is well related to and complements the existing built form of the settlement, providing opportunities for walking and cycling to local services and facilities
  • Affordable housing should form part of the overall development and be well integrated with any market housing;
  • Supports where appropriate access to local job opportunities, including opportunities for on-site provision
  • The development appropriately contributes to local infrastructure priorities identified, for example, in Neighbourhood plans or in agreement with Parish Councils
  • Maintains and where appropriate incorporate enhancements to the local environment, landscape, and historic environment, including where appropriate habitat creation and community woodland planting.

Meaningful and robust engagement and consultation with the Parish Council, local community and other local stakeholders will be encouraged. This is to make sure that the planning impacts identified by the local community have been appropriately addressed as far as possible.

Any such proposal that includes affordable housing will be supported by a local lettings policy.

Exceptionally sites that deliver other local infrastructure priorities instead of affordable housing as agreed with the relevant Parish Council may be acceptable subject to the considerations above.

In accordance with Policy S3, local infrastructure will normally be secured through the use of an S.106 agreement. Where such an agreement results in the scheme becoming unviable, the Council will consider the use of the adopted Exceptional Relief Policy subject to any application meeting the necessary regulatory requirements.

Where necessary proposals will be required to include assessment under the Habitats Regulations and have been informed by its findings.

Policy T4

Tier 4 Settlements – Housing

Housing proposals for redevelopment, infill, subdivision and conversion within existing settlement boundaries (as defined on the Policies Map) will be supported where it meets all of the following:

  • It does not involve the loss of or unacceptable harm to spaces or facilities (public or private) which contribute to the character and role of the settlement
  • It is appropriate to the scale, design and existing character of the settlement
  • It would not unacceptably harm the character or amenity of any nearby property

Outside but well related to settlement boundaries, affordable housing proposals on sites specifically released for that purpose will be supported. This is only where it is demonstrated that it meets all of the following criteria:

  • It fulfils an identified local housing need for affordable housing as evidenced by an up to date assessment of local housing needs agreed with the council
  • The scale of development should be appropriate to the size, accessibility, character and physical identity of the settlement;
  • The proposal is well related to and complements the existing built form of the settlement, providing opportunities for walking and cycling to local services and facilities
  • Supports where appropriate access to local job opportunities, including opportunities for on-site provision
  • The development appropriately contributes to local infrastructure priorities identified, for example, in Neighbourhood plans or in agreement with Parish Councils
  • Maintains and where appropriate incorporate enhancements to the local environment, landscape, and historic environment, including where appropriate habitat creation and community woodland planting.

Where delivery of such schemes is not financially viable, cross-subsidy by way of market housing will be considered where all the following criteria are met;

  • The Council is satisfied it is essential for the successful delivery of the development demonstrated through an independent open book financial appraisal
  • Market housing does not exceed the affordable housing element unless exceptionally the proposal delivers other locally agreed infrastructure priorities
  • Affordable housing should form part of the overall development and be well integrated with the market housing

Meaningful and robust engagement and consultation with the Parish Council, local community and other local stakeholders will be encouraged to ensure that the planning impacts identified by the local community have been appropriately addressed as far as possible.

Any such proposal that includes affordable housing will be supported by a local lettings policy.

Exceptionally sites that deliver other local infrastructure priorities instead of affordable housing as agreed with the relevant Parish Council may be acceptable subject to the considerations above.

In accordance with Policy S3, local infrastructure will normally be secured through the use of an S.106 agreement. Where such an agreement results in the scheme becoming unviable, the Council will consider the use of the adopted Exceptional Relief Policy subject to any application meeting the necessary regulatory requirements.

Where necessary proposals will be required to include assessment under the Habitats Regulations and have been informed by its findings.

Policy CO1

Countryside

To actively manage patterns of growth and focus significant development in locations which are or can be made sustainable proposals for new development outside of identified settlements (as defined in the spatial strategy Policy S2) will be appropriately controlled in accordance with national policy. This reflects the environmental and landscape constraints, more limited local services and fewer opportunities for sustainable transport in many countryside locations.

The development will be supported where it accords with other relevant policies contained in the Local Plan that provide for development in the countryside. This is to enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities and support a prosperous rural economy.

Where development proposals in the countryside are not addressed by other policies of the Local Plan, new development must demonstrate that there are specific countryside needs. These could be local agricultural industry and local food producers, enhancement of the environment or where a countryside location is essential or more sustainable.

Policy CO2

Infill Housing in the Countryside

In the countryside, where a small village or hamlet has a clearly defined nucleus of existing dwellings, small scale residential infill and redevelopment (four or fewer dwellings) will be exceptionally supported only if all the following criteria are met:

The development is a self-build or Custom Build project and meets the requirements of Policy D9;

  • It amounts to infilling of the existing main built-up area of the settlement
  • The development maintains or enhances sustainable patterns of development. Development which physically extends the built form of the settlement into the open countryside will not normally be supported
  • The scale and nature of the development is appropriate to the size, accessibility, character and identity of the existing community
  • The development is in accordance with Policy D19: Landscape respects the qualities of the local landscape and is sympathetic to its character and visual quality

To maintain or enhance the vitality of rural communities it will normally be expected that any proposals contribute to supporting existing services. And, where appropriate, promote new community infrastructure. Development should improve walking and cycling to local services and facilities where there are opportunities.

Meaningful and robust consultation with the Parish Council, local community and other local stakeholders will be encouraged.

Isolated new homes in the countryside will be resisted unless the special circumstances set out in the NPPF and Policies D10: Rural Workers Dwellings and D11: Replacement Dwellings in the Countryside are met.

Policy CO3

Brownfield Sites in the Countryside

Outside of identified settlements in the Countryside proposals for the re-use or remodelling of existing rural brownfield sites for employment uses will be supported. This is where it remains of an appropriate scale and character and does not result in significant adverse impacts.

Where it can be demonstrated that employment use or redevelopment of such sites is not viable or suitable, then consideration will be given to mixed use schemes or residential schemes only. This is where they are reasonably well related to an existing Town or Tier 1 – 4 settlements, have appropriate access to the primary road hierarchy, and provide opportunities to promote sustainable means of travel.

For small sites of less than 5 units, mixed-use is unlikely to be viable or appropriate although opportunities to provide work from home units will be encouraged and supported.

Other than in the special circumstances as set out in the NPPF isolated and remote rural, brownfield sites are unlikely to be appropriate locations for new residential development and will be assessed against Policy CO1.

In all cases, development should comply with other relevant policies in the Local Plan.

Last reviewed: December 19, 2023 by Jenny

Next review due: June 19, 2024

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