Now is the time to have your say on future housing and business development in Somerset West and Taunton (SWT). The council is preparing a new Local Plan – the blueprint for development in the areas formerly covered by Taunton Deane and West Somerset district councils.
Due to the pandemic there are now no set dates for this process. However, the consultation gives a vital opportunity for landowners, developers and others to offer their views on the future of planning and development in the area.
In January this year, the council published its SWT Local Plan 2040 – Issues and Options Document.  In July it published its ‘Local Plan Issues And Options Consultation Report – Part 1’ which explained the consultation process and gave an overview of the responses and issues raised.
On 21st October 2020, SWT moved one step further forward towards an adoptable Local Plan by publishing Part 2 of its Issues and Options Consultation Reports.  In this part, the council has set out nine objectives: Objective 1 (Carbon neutrality); Objective 2 (Town centres); Objective 3 (Homes); Objective 4 (Economy); Objective 5 (Infrastructure); Objective 6 (Sustainable travel); Objective 7 (Environment); Objective 8 (Rural and coastal communities); and Objective 9 (Wellbeing).  Under each objective, the report provides an overview of the consultation responses received, and gives the council’s initial remarks to those responses in light of the next stage of the Local Plan Review, its ‘Draft Plan’.  
The Draft Plan was due to be published earlier this summer. However the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on the council’s timetable, and it cautioned that recent Government planning reform proposals and the proposed amendments to how housing need will be calculated, and plans for the Somerset unitary council(s) will impact on this timetable.  The timetable now simply sets out the next stages, without any target dates.
Stephen Baimbridge, Associate for Greenslade Taylor Hunt, explained: “According to the Government, there are significant changes coming to the planning system. These changes will likely affect how local plans must look to deliver development, as well as setting the number of new homes that will have to be delivered within the plan period. To add to that are the impending changes to the Somerset local authorities, which will see Somerset West and Taunton become a unitary authority.  So there is a lot of change afoot. Even with those impending planning and political changes, the responses the council collects now are still highly likely to inform the next iteration of the Local Plan. For that reason, landowners, developers, and residents should take these consultation invitations as opportunities to influence the next Local Plan in its formative stages.”
The development planning and land experts at Greenslade Taylor Hunt are well placed to advise on the content of the emerging Plan as well as the steps ahead towards its adoption.
The experienced team will be monitoring the planning and political situations as they unfold, ready to capitalise on the next consultation opportunity to submit representations on behalf of clients.
To benefit from the expertise on offer please contact the Development Land and Planning Department on 01823 334466.