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Local Plan review 2040

On 21 July 2021, the Government announced that, subject to Parliamentary approval, a new unitary council for Somerset will be formed on 1 April 2023 to replace the existing county and district councils. However, Exmoor National Park Authority will remain as the Local Planning Authority for the area of National Park within Somerset.

Given these timescales and the numerous stages in Local, Mineral and Waste Plan preparation the existing councils will therefore no longer be progressing new plans through the statutory process based on their individual geographies. Existing county and district councils are working closely to scope the content and timescales for new Development Plan(s) to be prepared in the future as part the single unitary council. This includes ongoing work to progress and align key evidence base documents. Relevant documents, including an updated Local Development Scheme (LDS) for the new Somerset Council will be published in due course as the councils work through the transitional arrangements.

There are a number of workstreams currently being progressed to ensure a smooth transition to the new council. There is a clear commitment to ensuring effective plan-making arrangements are implemented going forward and we will update our web pages when there is further information regarding timescales and scope of any new Development Plan Documents.

The current Local Plan documents for Somerset West and Taunton Council can be found on the adopted local plans page and will remain part of the Development Plan until they are replaced either wholly or in part by new Local Plan documents produced by the new unitary council. For the avoidance of doubt adopted Neighbourhood Plans will continue to remain part of the Development Plan for relevant areas.

Local Plan Issues and Options Document

The first stage of the Local Plan Review 2040 was the Issues and Options document. The document looks at key issues for our area and suggests ways we can address these.  The issues we are looking at include how to plan for the places and spaces we live and work in; community services, shops, transport and infrastructure; our wildlife and landscapes; and the climate emergency.

We consulted on the Issues and Options document between Monday 13 January and Monday 16 March 2020.

Despite not continuing with the Local Plan Review anymore, the information gathered through consultation and evidence base will inform the Development Plan(s) for the new Somerset Council.

If you would like to see the full consultation responses submitted by individuals/organisations please go to our Consultation Portal.

For the Issues and Options consultation we also produced two Topic Papers on two key issues:
Topic Paper 1: Brief assessment of settlement strategy options
Topic Paper 2: Settlement boundaries

Sustainability Appraisal

The Sustainability Appraisal (SA) supports the Local Plan. It looks at how the Local Plan can deliver environmental, economic and social objectives.

The Scoping Report and the Objectives and Alternatives Main Report and Appendix A and Appendix B were consulted upon at the same time as the Issues and Options document.

Habitats Regulation Assessment

The Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) looks at whether the plan, alone, or in together with other plans or projects, is likely to have a significant effect on an international nature conservation sites (Special Protection Areas (SPA), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) or Ramsar sites).  The HRA was consulted upon at the same time as the Issues and Options document.

The Local Plan timetable

Stage name Summary of stage Time period
Evidence gathering (Reg 18) Includes the consultation on the Issues and Options document (Jan-Feb 2020), draft Sustainability Appraisal of alternatives, Habitat Regulation Assessment, production of technical evidence We are here
Draft Plan (Reg 19) Consultation on draft policies, potential development locations and supporting information, informed by the previous stage and further technical evidence Under Review
Publication version of the Plan Consultation on the revised plan, changed in light of the previous stage and further evidence gathering. Plan and comments go to the Planning Inspector Under Review
Planning Inspector's hearings An independent Planning Inspector examines the plan, evidence and comments made. The Inspector holds hearing sessions to discuss the ‘soundness’ of the plan Under Review
Plan is adopted The plan is adopted and is used to inform local planning policy and decisions on planning applications Under Review