27th January 2022

New planning guidance to support high quality design

Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) has adopted new planning guidance to ensure consistency in the quality of new developments across the District.

Members adopted the Somerset West and Taunton Districtwide Design Guide and the Public Realm Design Guide for Taunton Garden Town as supplementary planning documents at a meeting of the Full Council this week.

The guides, produced following extensive consultation throughout 2020 and 2021, seek to encourage a higher standard of design for development across the whole Local Planning Authority area and to reflect Taunton’s status as a Garden Town.

They will ensure the level of housing growth needed to meet future demand in Somerset West and Taunton is high quality, sustainable, and maintains or enhances the character and distinctiveness of the area.

Both guides will be used as material planning consideration for the preparation of masterplans, pre-application advice, assessing planning applications and any other development management purposes within the District and Taunton Garden Town.

Members agreed that the Director of Development and Place, in consultation with the Executive Member for Planning and Transport, be authorised to approve and make minor amendments to both guides prior to the final publication.

The Council has also established an independently managed Quality Review Panel to act as a critical friend in providing advice to applicants and the local planning authority, to further support high standards in new developments in the district.

The panel will play an important role in the Council’s commitment to achieving high quality and sustainable developments, providing independent and objective advice during the development of planning policy and development strategies, and advice on pre-application development proposals and planning applications.

Members of the new Quality Review Panel have a wide range of expertise across their professional fields including planning, landscaping, engineering, and sustainability.

Their input will ensure exemplary development across Somerset West and Taunton that will add to the area’s character, creating healthy, attractive and distinctive places to live and work.

The Council is urging applicants to engage the Panel at an early stage in the development of proposals as their advice will be a material planning consideration when applications are determined by the Planning Committee.

Further information on the panel, it’s members and meeting dates can be found here