Planning Policy FAQ

What are the "planning system" and the "development plan"?
Q. What is the planning system?
A. Whether we like it or not, as our population grows so does the need for development. The planning system has to plan for this development, but at the same time try to protect the natural and man-made environment. The planning system is used to ensure that the things we need like schools, roads, houses, places to work etc. get built in the right places, at the right time and that the wrong things don't get built at all. South Somerset District Council is responsible for most things that the planning system does in this area. Among the most important are; the production of development plans; the processing of planning applications and the enforcement of planning legislation. Although the Council's officers are responsible for the running of the system it is the District Councillors who take many of the final decisions. The Councillors are members of the community elected by local people to represent the community.

Q: What is the "development plan"?
A. The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 made major changes to the development plan system introducing Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) and Local Development Frameworks (LDF). The LDF for South Somerset together with the RSS for the South West, will form the statutory development plan for the District. The South West Regional Assembly is preparing the RSS, but in the meantime the existing Regional Planning Guidance for the South West (RPG10) has the status of RSS. Currently the development plan comprises RPG10, the Somerset and Exmoor National Park Joint Structure Plan Review adopted April 2000 and the South Somerset Local Plan adopted April 2006. There are proposals to abolish the RSS in the Localism Bill currently passing through Government.
Under transitional arrangements the Policies and Proposals of the South Somerset Local Plan were saved for three years from the date of adoption and formed part of the LDF until the expiration of that 3-year period unless replaced or withdrawn.  Regulations allowed for the Local Plan policies to be saved for an initial three years after adoption to allow time for the replacement Local Development Documents to emerge so the policies were saved until 26th April 2009. As the replacement Local Development Documents have yet to emerge the District Council applied for direction under Paragraph 1(3) of Schedule 8 to the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 to effectively extend the life of the policies within the Local Plan until the replacement Local Development Documents are adopted.