Districtwide Design Guide

Closed 16 Aug 2021

Opened 5 Jul 2021


We are now re-consulting on the draft Districtwide Design Guide, which once adopted by the Council as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) will be a material planning consideration when determining planning applications. The document illustrates the Council’s aspirations for maintaining and improving design quality across the Somerset West and Taunton area. The consultation is taking place from 5 July to 16 August 2021.

The draft Districtwide Design Guide sets out guidance for new development in the District in support of adopted local plan policies and national planning policy guidance.  It explains the requirements of the Local Planning Authority for high quality design which will be considered, to make a balanced judgement against policy and Council objectives in the consideration of planning proposals. 

The updated document addresses the responses received to date, officer requests to have more design guidance on certain topics, and the increasing need to emphasise the role that design can play in reducing carbon emissions towards meeting net zero targets.  Whilst this consultation relates to the whole draft Design Guide, the following sections of the document have been substantially amended or altered:

  • 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 5.14 – 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 5.15 – 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 – 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 developments.

Why your views matter

We are now re-consulting on the draft Design Guide and are keen to hear your views on the entire document and the changes identified above. All previous comments have been considered.

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.

We are therefore running a six-week consultation on the draft Design Guide to seek formal comments on this important planning guidance document.  Responses to the proposals in this consultation document will inform the final version of the SPD which is planned to be reported to the Council for adoption in Autumn 2021.

What happens next

Following consultation, the intention is for the final version of the 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.


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