Housing Allocations

In planning positively to help accommodate housing need within the environmental limitations of the Plan area (particularly from new households, younger families, older downsizing households as well as the specialist needs of older people), a site has been identified which is in addition to the strategic allocation in the Local Plan. The site has been confirmed as available by landowners and was assessed in the Mendip District Council HEELA, and independently assessed for the Neighbourhood Plan. The site has been carefully assessed against specific policies in the NPPF which indicate development should be restricted and other factors of local importance such as the coalescence of settlements, protecting the distinctive character of individual areas, and retaining landscape of high value and sensitivity.

The SMNP allocates a site for development, which exceeds that planned for through the adopted Local Plan, in an area with sensitive receptors. This includes a conservation area, nationally designated biodiversity, and geodiversity sites (within and in proximity to the neighbourhood area) and proximity to Somerset Levels and Moors Special Protection Area and Ramsar site. On this basis, the Mendip District Council SEA Screening Report (December 2021) considered that there is the potential for development as planned for through the SMNP to result in significant environmental effects. Therefore, an Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process was undertaken to meet the specific requirements prescribed by the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 (the SEA Regulations).

There are no internationally designated sites within the parish boundary of Shepton Mallet. However, the Somerset Levels and Moors SPA are approximately 13km west of the neighbourhood area, and Mells Valley SAC, covering 28.77ha, lies within 3 km of the NP boundary.

As part of the process of assessing this site being put forward for development, a Habitats Regulation Assessment was undertaken and identified that there is unlikely to be any adverse effect on the integrity of the Mells Valley SAC through recreational pressure, either alone or in combination with other plans and projects. The HRA also concluded the need for mitigation to ensure no adverse effect on water quality and this has been included in the Policy. This mitigation proposed by applicants is required to be in line with the emerging Phosphate Management Strategy.

The creation of greenspaces with easy accessibility to all residents and the wider community also forms a key component of this policy. Development is also required to ensure that residential amenities in respect of privacy, daylight and sunlight are safeguarded, through careful site layout, property orientation, landscaping and detailed design. Appendix Shepton Mallet Design Guide.

The potential density and type of development proposed in this plan responds to the vision and objectives, which identifies the need for additional affordable housing in particular. An approximate housing capacity is included for the site. This is based on the approximate net additional dwellings to be achieved on this site.

The NPPF makes it clear that neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure that they get the right types of development for their community. The Neighbourhood Plan contains policies which ensure development is designed to a high quality and responds to the heritage and distinctive character of the individual areas of Shepton Mallet in which it is located, as well as site specific constraints. These requirements reflect the input of local residents and infrastructure providers.