Reasoned Justification for Policy Four 

 62 Mendip District Council is required to meet, in full, its assessed housing needs. As a key service centre, Shepton Mallet will play a key role in addressing that need through its site allocations. It is important also that the right type of housing is provided as well. This will need to meet the wider needs of the district to a certain degree but, it is important that it provides for the changing needs of those that live and work in Shepton Mallet. 

63 The overall housing need in Mendip District is informed by the Strategic Housing Market Assessment, currently awaiting update. However, using the Standard Method of Calculation, Mendip have identified a need of 604 dwellings per annum across the Mendip District Council area over the period to 2029. Whilst there are a number of other factors which may result in an alternative figure being taken forward in the Local Plan prepared for the new Unitary Authority, it represents a good understanding of objectively assessed need. 

64 The Mendip SHMA also recommended the affordable housing requirement and, importantly for the Neighbourhood Plan, the overall mix of dwellings required by size. Fig 5 shows the summary 1

Screenshot 2023 01 11 at 14.46.20

65 This shows that there is a predominant overall need is for 2-3 bedroom dwellings, equating to approximately 80% of need. For 1-bed properties, the need is 10%. 

66 Feedback from the community of Shepton Mallet was that the local need was very much for smaller properties, both for first-time buyers and for older downsizers. This is supported by the evidence from the Census, which shows that between 2001 and 2011, the number of young adults (aged 20 to 44) was significantly lower that for England as a whole, whilst the number of people of retirement age (60+) was higher than the national average. The population of Shepton Mallet is ageing and is seeing the loss of households looking to bring families up in the area. 

67 For the first-time buyer, opportunities provided through Starter Home provision is reflected in the wider housing market through a higher requirement for smaller affordable properties. For older downsizers, many would like to stay living locally but would like to live in a smaller, more manageable property. The lack of such for first-time buyers results in many choosing to stay in their current larger homes, reducing the number of these homes available to growing families. In a Parish which has both primary and secondary schools, the importance of addressing the housing needs of families is paramount. 

68 It will be important that new development delivers this overall mix of housing to ensure that needs are met in full. This should only be on developments of seven dwellings or more because it is impractical for smaller developments to provide a mix. Small sites make it difficult to design an appropriate scheme that will also address all other policy requirements. 

69 Policy Four also seeks to ensure that the density of new development takes account of the circumstances of the site concerned and the need to produce high quality design. In this context it offers particular support for developments which achieve these objectives and make the best use of the site concerned. This is generally expected to be 35 / 40 dwellings per hectare. 

70 These densities will deliver an appropriate housing mix for the Plan area as there is a greater need for smaller, one and two- bedroomed homes. Developments of apartments are more likely to achieve these higher densities whilst meeting the needs of downsizers and first-time buyers, however apartments are not a good fit with the historic town of Shepton Mallet. 

71 Developers should not compromise parking provision in meeting this density standard and should meet the requirements of other policies in this Neighbourhood Plan. All development in the Plan Area should adhere to the ‘Nationally Described Space Standards ’18 to ensure there is adequate living space and permit flexible use dependent upon changing household circumstances. Given the high value of properties in the Plan area, it is expected that the higher densities can be achieved without compromising on the space standards. 

72 CPRE, The Countryside Charity supports building at higher densities to reduce urban spread and make more efficient use of land. It recognises densification should respect the character of the local area. 

73 Developers should adhere to the guidance in the Shepton Mallet Design Guide and Policy Seventeen, Green Infrastructure, to ensure developments are sympathetic to the surrounding area and do not compromise or cause harm to the natural environment. 

74 The proposed densities are lower than some development that has already taken place within the plan area and provides a compromise between making best use of the land and providing a positive residential and public environment. 

75 Consultation informing the Mendip Local Plan has picked up an issue, particularly within rural communities, that there is an apparent mismatch between the types of housing which are being built and the need which is evident within the local communities. This policy therefore responds to this objective. 

76 Data indicates that entry level prices for owner occupied property across Shepton Mallet is fairly low in comparison to the remainder of the district and nationally.

Fig below:

Shepton Mallet   Feb 2020   Feb 2021   Change 

5+ Bedrooms       £418,317     £496,000    +19% 

4 Bedrooms         £330,320    £309,446    -6% 

3 Bedrooms         £226,679    £255,396   +13% 

2 Bedrooms         £156,452    £168,987    +8% 

1 Bedroom           £127,680    £123,170      -4% 

All                        £223,920    £238,863     +7% 

 77 It is true, however, that this pattern is changing, and Fig below clearly demonstrates the rise in prices in the 2 / 3- bedroom range. Policy Four seeks to ensure a greater proportion of smaller properties are delivered to meet the needs of younger people in particular who wish to live in Shepton Mallet for employment reasons. 

Screenshot 2023 01 11 at 14.58.44Fig: property prices in Shepton Mallet

78 At the beginning of 2012 (the most recent information available) identified the housing mix required for the whole of Mendip is as follows: 

 Screenshot 2023 01 11 at 15.05.05Screenshot 2023 01 11 at 15.05.05

 79 It is therefore clear that the provision of smaller units, i.e. 1 / 2 / 3 bedrooms should be favoured in order to provide flexibility to accommodate the widest range of needs.