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Districtwide design guide SPD

We are producing a Design Guide which is a document illustrating the Council’s aspirations for maintaining and improving the design quality across the Somerset West and Taunton area. A further public consultation on the revised draft document is taking place from Monday 05 July to Monday 16 August 2021.

Following earlier consultations in spring 2020 and winter 2020/21, the updated document has taken into account the responses received to date and the following substantial revisions and additions have been carried out as a result:

  • Section 1 – Introduction – this includes National Planning Policy including the National Design Guide and all the relevant existing Somerset West and Taunton policies which form the basis of the Design Guide
  • Section 3 – Context & Distinctiveness – this includes a revised introduction to Fig 3.3c and a redrawing of a map showing local vernacular building materials
  • Section 4 – Sustainable Placemaking - new guidance has been included on Residential Blocks at section 4.2.1
  • Section 4 – Sustainable Placemaking – enhanced guidance has been included on Buildings Within the Landscape Setting at section 4.2.3
  • Section 4 – House Typologies – these have been revised and expanded upon to clarify the guidance and to improve the illustrations.
  • Section 4 - Sustainable Placemaking - a much expanded section has been included on Streets, Parking and Placemaking based on more progressive approaches to street design at section 4.4.
  • Section 5.2 – Zero Carbon Design and Construction – a new detailed section has been included setting out the Council’s aspirations in relation to policy and coordinating guidance within the Design Guide.
  • Section 5.15 - Residential Alterations and Extensions has been revised and expanded on both to clarify the distinction between permitted development and that which requires planning permission.
  • Section 5.14 - Shop front Design has been expanded to include guidance on the changing high street in terms of the conversion of retail premises to alternative uses.
  • Section 5 - Design Topics, new sections have been added to address the development of smaller sites (new section 5.4) and the Design of Agricultural Buildings (new section 5.12).
  • Section 6 - Design Review has been revised to set out the Council’s proposed procedure and requirements for development

The document explains some key principles and demonstrates that many measures to reduce the harmful effects of climate change can be addressed within the context of good design and placemaking. It also attempts to show how current principles of highway design and layout can be incorporated into good placemaking. The draft Districtwide Design Guide and its Strategic Environmental Assessment / Habitat Regulations Assessment is published for consultation along with a Statement of Community Involvement.

The Design Guide is intended to be adopted by Somerset West and Taunton Council as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) and will be a material consideration in determining planning proposals and applications. Once adopted, the Design Guide will also inform emerging policies within the new joint Local Plan. Views from local communities, businesses and the development industry are therefore important in helping to shape the document for maintaining and improving the quality of design across Somerset West and Taunton.

In supplementing adopted policy, the Design Guide SPD will be used by:

  • Planning Officers to assess the design quality of development proposals when determining planning applications and offering pre-application advice
  • Council members when assessing development proposals in advance of and at planning committee
  • Applicants and developers when preparing their schemes

Paper copies are available to view at the Council Offices at Deane House, Main Reception, Belvedere Road, Taunton, TA1 1HE (Monday – Friday, 8.30am to 5pm) and West Somerset House, Killick Way, Williton, TA4 4QA (Monday – Friday, 8.30am to 5pm). For any viewing of the documents at Deane House or West Somerset House, due to Covid restrictions, please call to make an appointment 0300 3048000.

We encourage the use of the online consultation portal.

However, comments can also be submitted by email or post:


Post: Writing to the Council at: Placemaking Specialist, Planning and Development, Somerset West and Taunton Council, Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton, TA1 1HE.

Following consultation, the intention is for the final version of the draft Districtwide Design Guide (taking account of comments received in the consultation) to be considered by Executive Committee and then Full Council for adoption as a Supplementary Planning Document and a material planning consideration. Depending on the numbers and detail of consultation responses, the earliest that the Statement might come back to Executive would be Autumn 2021.