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SWT announces further design guide consultations

05 July 2021 : Council news, Planning and development

Somerset West and Taunton Council is seeking the public’s views on the latest additions to its draft design guides for Taunton and the wider district.

Draft documents for a Districtwide Design Guide and a Public Realm Design Guide for Taunton Garden Town were previously produced in line with the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), to encourage a higher standard of design in the applications it receives from developers, the Highway Authority, utility companies and their agents and contractors.

The Council is now re-consulting on both documents following amendments made in response to feedback from earlier consultations, updated government guidance in relation to active travel and standards in conservation areas, and the Council’s continued commitment to achieving a zero-carbon district by 2030.

The Draft Districtwide Design Guide sets out the Council’s procedural requirements for new and existing developments across the whole Planning Authority area. It explains some key principles and demonstrates numerous measures to address the harmful effects of climate change within the context of good design and placemaking.

The latest amendments expand on the guidance covering climate change and zero carbon; requirements for design review; residential alterations and extensions; shop front design; conversion of retail premises to alternative uses; development of smaller sites; agricultural buildings in the countryside; and house typologies for placemaking.

The amended draft will ensure that the level of housing growth needed to meet future demand in Somerset West and Taunton is high quality, sustainable and maintains or enhances the character and distinctiveness of local areas.

Conversely, the Draft Taunton Garden Town Public Realm Design Guide seeks to improve the design of public spaces within Taunton and that its streets are considered as sustainable places for all, not just for motorists.

It also attempts to show how current principles of highway design and layout can be incorporated into good placemaking to compliment the enlarged Street making & Parking section of the Districtwide Design Guide.

The latest revisions to the Public Realm Design Guide have been made in response to the government’s latest Covid guidance to promote walking and cycling including provision for cycle facilities at gateway junctions, and street lighting standards in conservation areas for adoption by Somerset County Council as the Highway Authority.

The Districtwide Design Guide and associated design supplements are available to view on the Council's Districtwide design guide SPD webpage.

The Public Realm Design Guide and associated documents are available to view on the Taunton Garden Town public realm design guide SPD page.

New consultations for both design guides will run concurrently for six weeks from 5 July until 16 August.

Responses can be made using the Council’s online consultation portal available at

All comments submitted during the previous consultations will still be taken into consideration.

Cllr Mike Rigby, Executive Member for Planning Policy and Transport, said: “These guides reflect our commitment to deliver significant housing growth focused on a number of new communities, as well as a regenerated town centre to reflect Taunton’s status as a Garden Town.

“It sets out our principles of place making and sustainability, and how these can be implemented to produce resilient, healthy, safe and attractive places to live and work, with green spaces and green credentials.

“We’re very keen for people to engage in these consultations, which will help to guide planning decisions for large- and small-scale housing developments around the district.”

Following the consultation period, the Council will adopt both guides as Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD’s), to ensure they are given as much weight as possible in the decision-making process in accordance with recommendations by the NPPF.

Once adopted, they will also promote a common approach to the main principles underpinning the Council’s Local Plan which sets planning policy for the Somerset West and Taunton area until 2040.

Views from local communities, businesses and the development industry are therefore important in helping to shape the draft documents for maintaining and improving the quality of design in Taunton and across the wider district.

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