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Local Plan review 2040

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

There is a statutory requirement to prepare a Local Plan. At Somerset West and Taunton Council we had started work on the Local Plan 2040 which would have replaced the existing Local Plan documents of the former Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council.

The individual districts are at various stages of their Local Plan making and will each take their own advice regarding if and how they progress these. Somerset West and Taunton are continuing with producing evidence base for the Local Plan 2040, which may also inform any new unitary plan. In due course we will work with the Somerset authorities to decide how and when we progress towards a Somerset-wide Local Plan.

A draft structural changes Order will be laid in Parliament and will include plans for the necessary transitional arrangements for the new unitary council. Until governance arrangements change in the form of a shadow authority, Somerset West and Taunton and Exmoor National Park Authority remains the Local Planning Authorities for SWT so other planning documents under production will continue e.g. the District-wide Design Guide SPD.

Local Plan Issues and Options Document

The first stage 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.

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

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