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One new unified Council for Somerset – but what does it mean for planning?

Updated: Apr 11

April 1st 2023 was a big day for Somerset as the new Somerset Council came into being and the four previous District Councils – Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton and South Somerset, along with Somerset County Council, merged to form a single unitary Council.

Salmon Planning in Wells Somerset are keeping up to date with the changes to planning regulations as a result of the change over to the new unified Somerset Council.

The new Councillors representing Somerset were elected last year, and since politics so often shapes planning matters, we shall have to wait and see how the new political landscape in Somerset affects planning decision making in the future.

What does this mean for planning applications?

Somerset Council will be the new Local Planning Authority for the whole County, but planning decisions will continue, for the moment, to be based on the current adopted Local Plans in the geographical areas covered by the old District Councils.

Looking further ahead, Somerset Council will be progressing work on a new Somerset Local Plan with the aim being to replace all the former Districts' Local Plans with a new single Plan for the whole of Somerset.

This process will however take several years; by way of comparison, Dorset became a Unitary Council in April 2019 and they don’t expect to adopt their single Local Plan until 2026.

Until the new Local Plan is adopted, the current Local Plans for the old District Councils will remain in force.

What’s in store for Somerset?

To begin with, there will be several years of consultation and drafting of new planning policy documents, which will shape the future of Somerset. This is all part of the process of the new Council’s work to create a new Development Plan for Somerset, which will outline the scale and location of housing and economic growth in the County, and set out the various environmental policies that are important to protecting Somerset’s most significant natural and man-made assets.

This is a historic change for the way politics and planning in Somerset will operate. Salmon Planning Company will keep abreast of the implications across the development sector.

If you would like our advice regarding how current local policies will affect your project, please contact us for an initial discussion, free of charge.

Find out more about the new Somerset Council’s planning, buildings and land services here.

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