Thursday, March 13, 2008

South Somerset District Council: Issues & Options Consultation 1

South Somerset District Council has just launched its public consultation on the shape of the region by 2026. With the challenge of 20,000 extra houses, struggling villages, congested towns and an ageing population, there are lots of issues that SSDC is trying to address.

The consultation runs to April 25th, so you have 5 weeks to make your voice heard. The main 'Issues and Options' document is online at
and there are 21 pages of questions related to it. You can respond to 1, all, or some, depending on how long you've got free.

I'm going to be posting quite a lot about this in the next week or two. What follows is a summary (it fitted onto 3 pages of A4) of the 104 page 'Issues and Options' document.

South Somerset District Council ‘Issues and Options Consultation’
3rd March - 25th April 2008

Summary of the ‘Issues and Options’ document

South Somerset District Council has launched the first stage of planning for the period 2011-2026 in the area. This stage involves identifying the ‘Core Strategy’ for planning and development decisions. Once this is finalised, it becomes the criteria against which everything else is measured.

To help prepare the Core Strategy, the council has published an ‘Issues and Options’ document, which identifies the issues facing the region in the next 20 years, and the options for tackling them. This can be seen at Brympton Way, in the local library, or online at .

Alongside the Issues and Options Document is a 21 page questionnaire, again available at these sites, or online at the link above. Public responses are invited to the Issues and Options document. Church members who live or work in South Somerset can therefore be part of the consultation. See my other paper ‘An Opportunity for the Church?’ for some guidance on this.

What follows is a summary of the main points of the Issues and Options document. It runs to 104 pages, and some of it is quite interesting, but by no means all of it!

Issues and Options Summary (numbers correspond to sections in the original document)

1. The goal
of the Core Strategy is : “an enjoyable and prosperous South Somerset.”

2. A Pen Portrait of South Somerset
Ø Population is 156,000. 41,000 of these live in Yeovil, 2 in 5 people live in settlements of less thatn 2500.
Ø The region has 48 villages, 7 small towns, and 5 large towns. Yeovil has been identified as one of 21 strategic towns in the South West by the regional government strategy.
Ø Population growth is twice the national average, projections suggest an extra 25,000 residents in South Somerset by 2028. 90% of this population growth will be among over-50s.
Ø Nearly 7 out of 10 of the additional households will be single person households.

Ø Manufacturing is shrinking, construction and transport will grow
Ø Dominant local sectgors are low wage/low skill (retail, tourism, hotels, distribution,leisure)
Ø South Somerset had over 1/2m visitors in 2003, the majority were over 55.
Ø Traffic and HGV traffic is increasing
Ø Finance, IT and telecoms are growing. There are also 12,000 self-employed people, and a high proportion of people working from home.

Ø Growing migrant population, especially from Portugal and Poland
Ø Unemployment is low, but wages and educational standards are below the national average.
Ø Several deprived wards in Yeovil and Chard.
Ø House prices are higher relative to income (7.7:1)than the national average (6.25:1). In some rural areas they are more than twice the average (14:1)
Ø The number of very elderly in the region will grow by 88% in the next 25 years.
Ø Deaths from cancer and heart disease are falling, instances of stroke, falls, diabetes and stress are rising.

Environment & Travel
Ø Energy and water use, and waste generation, will continue to rise
Ø Flood and storm damage will increase, and rising fuel prices
Ø Congestion and car numbers will increase. Road casualties a problem.

3. Vision and Objectives for South Somerset

The brief ‘vision’ : "A thriving South Somerset which makes the most of its natural assets, heritage,enterprise and community spirit in order to conserve natural resources, plan and build a better quality of life for everyone, now and in the future."

The document tries to translate this into what it means for planning and strategy. The more detailed vision statement talks about a thriving area, affordable, high quality facilities, protecting the environment, with Yeovil as a strong driver of the local economy. Increasing hi-tech and educational opportunities, with the East of Yeovil regenerated. It speaks of a thriving region, with several local hubs, better tourism facilities and a viable agricultural sector.

This is followed by 13 ‘Strategic Objectives’. These give a pretty good idea of where the Council is coming from, and several of them relate directly to what we do as churches (1, 2, 3, 12)

SO 1 Safe and strong communities with strong social networks.
SO 2 Everyone able to choose healthy lifestyles and access support to improve their health.
SO 3 Services and facilities (including education, health, advice and information, leisure and
cultural) that have all been designed around the needs of the community enabling
everyone to have fair and equitable access.
SO 4 People of all ages and backgrounds across the district to have access to ICT and
transport options.
SO 5 A competitive, high performing economy that is diverse and adaptable.
SO 6 Infrastructure in place for businesses to thrive.
SO 7 An educated and skilled workforce with less economic disadvantage and a good match
with the needs of the business sector.
SO 8 A thriving Yeovil, market town and rural economy/environment able to attract and retain
visitors, consumers and high quality, sustainable businesses.
SO 9 High quality homes, buildings and public spaces where people can live and work in an
environmentally friendly way.
SO10 A balanced housing market with a range of affordable housing and flexibility to meet the
changing needs of the population.
SO11 Effective use and stewardship of natural resources and biodiversity.
SO12 High levels of environmental awareness, pride in and satisfaction with the local
SO13 Move towards a carbon neutral economy by 2050.

Chapters 4-10

The rest of the document explores 6 key themes. Under each theme, key issues are identified, and options for tackling them are identified, with several questions in each section for people to respond to.

The 6 themes are:
a) Strategy
- how to keep sustainable development as a core principle
- balancing sustainability with employment, justice, wellbeing, environment etc.
- meeting the challenge of higher housing demand, and need for more business land.
- Percentages of brownfield or Greenfield land, and housing density.
- Estimates for housing required in South Somerset vary, the latest is 19,700, of which 11,400 should be in Yeovil.
- The paper sets out a ‘settlement hierarchy’ of towns (Yeovil, Chard, Wincanton etc.), Rural Centre (Bruton, Langport, Martock etc.) and Village. There are questions about how much development should be concentrated in each type of centre.
Note: not all local villages are mentioned here, it’s worth checking to see if yours is on!

b) Housing
Issues: - lack of affordable housing
- homelessness
- traveler provision
- more demand for 1 and 2 bed properties
- houses in Yeovil are unaffordable to 1st time buyers.
- Provision for affordable housing in new developments.
- Adaptable homes for increasing numbers of elderly.

c) Economy
- over 10,000 new jobs required for the area
- minimizing commuting, finding land for new businesses
- diversifying, so that we’re not over-reliant on Westlands and manufacturing
- increasing training levels.
- How much effort do you put in to retaining business premises (e.g. the village shop)
- Retaining rural services
- Move from dairy to arable farming. Helping farmers to diversify
- Enhancing tourism

d) Transport
- public transport
- parking
- encouraging cycling and walking
- disabled access
- tackling congestion – charging? Park and Ride? Parking charges?

e) Health and Well Being
- retaining local services (halls, surgeries, places of worship)
- young people’s facilities in remote areas
- increasing obesity
- recreation space in new developments
- community facilities in new developments
- mental health services, larger care and elderly sector
- public transport to facilities
- tackling crime and criminal damage, safety issues
- big rise in over-60’s forecast. Needs increased health provision.
- Loss of rural schools, provision for preschool children in rural areas

f) Environmental Quality.
- how to lower CO2 in line with government targets
- coping with rising energy demand, and demand for development land
- air quality (Yeovil is a blackspot)
- protecting heritage
- increasing use of renewable energy

The final section (section 10) deals with ‘Development Management Policies’ – i.e. what policies the council will adopt, in line with their vision and strategy, to guide future developments. These cover traffic, funding for new facilities, business land, health, housing density etc. There seemed to be a lot of overlap here with previous chapters, probably intentional!

and finally, the official blurb.
This consultation closes on Friday 25th April 2008. There are three ways to submit your comments:
1. On-line via ., or
2. Visit the website and fill out the electronic copy of the comment form and email to
3. Fill out a paper copy of the form (available at Council and Community Offices and Libraries) and post to the address below.

If you have any queries regarding the consultation please contact:
Planning Policy Team, Council Offices, Brympton Way, Yeovil, Somerset BA20 2HT
Telephone: 01935 462462 (8am to 6pm Monday to Friday) Email:

Future posts will cover how the church can respond, and the evidence for the benefits of faith communities on the local community.


  1. Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Transfered FROM US TO THEM. Over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They just keep getting richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductible crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. Cashing in on the PR and getting even richer the following year. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. Their bogus efforts to make the world a better place can not possibly succeed. Any 'humanitarian' progress made in one area will be lost in another. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. So don’t fall for any of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductible contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah, Ellen, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool.. WAKE UP PEOPLE. THEIR GOAL IS TO WIN THE GAME. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Reaganomics. Their idea. Loans from China. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. High energy prices. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. The multi-million dollar endorsement. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. Brainwash plots on TV. Their idea. Prozac, Zanex, Vioxx, and Celebrex. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed, credit card, pharmaceutical, love-sick, couch potatoe, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of the above shrink the middle class, concentrate the world’s wealth and resources, create a dominoe effect of socio-economic problems, and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and politicians. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for any of their ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTIBLE PR CRAP. In many cases, the 'charitable' contribution is almost entirely offset.. Not to mention the opportunity to plug their name, image, product, and 'good will' all at once. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These filthy pigs even have the nerve to throw a fit and spin up a misleading defense with regard to 'tax revenue'. ITS A SHAM. THEY SCREWED UP THE EQUATION TO BEGIN WITH. ITS THEIR OWN DAMN FAULT. If the middle and lower classes had a greater share of the pie, they could easily cover a greater share of the federal tax revenue. They are held down in many ways because of greed. Wages remain stagnant for millions because the executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, and entrepreneurs, are paid millions. They over-sell, over-charge, under-pay, outsource, cut jobs, and benefits to increase their bottom line. As their profits rise, so do the stock values. Which are owned primarily by the richest 5%. As more United States wealth rises to the top, the middle and lower classes inevitably suffer. This reduces the potential tax reveue drawn from those brackets. At the same time, it wreaks havok on middle and lower class communities and increases the need for financial aid. Not to mention the spike in crime because of it. There is a dominoe effect to consider. So when people forgive the rich for all of the above and then praise them for paying a greater share of the FEDERAL income taxes, its like nails on a chalk board. If these filthy pigs want to be over-paid, then they should be over-taxed as well. Remember: The richest 1% STILL own 1/2 of all United States wealth EVEN AFTER taxes, charity, and PR CRAP. A similar rule applies worldwide. There is nothing anyone can say to justify that. Anyway, there is usually a higher state and local burden on the middle and lower classes. They get little or nothing without a local tax increase. Otherwise, the red inks flows. Service cuts and lay-offs follow. Again, because of the OBSCENE distribution of bottom line wealth in this country. I can not accept any theory that our economy would suffer in any way with a more reasonable distribution of wealth. Afterall, it was more reasonable 30 years ago. Before Reaganomics came along. Before GREED became such an epidemic. Before we had an army of over-paid executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, investors, entrepreneurs, developers, and sold-out politicians to kiss their asses. As a nation, we were in much better shape. Lower crime rate, more widespread prosperity, stable job market, free and clear assets, lower deficit, ect. Our economy as a whole was much more stable and prosperous for the majority. WITHOUT LOANS FROM CHINA. Now, we have a more obscene distribution of bottom line wealth than ever before. We have a sold-out government, crumbling infrastructure, energy crisis, home forclosure epidemic, 13 figure national deficit, and 12 figure annual shortfall. The cost of living is higher than ever before. Most people can't even afford basic health care. ALL BECAUSE OF GREED. I really don't blame the 2nd -5th percentiles. No economy could ever function without some reasonable scale of personal wealth and income. But it can't be allowed to run wild like a mad dog. ALBERT EINSTEIN TRIED TO MAKE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. UNBRIDLED CAPITALISM ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE HUMANITARIAN. EXTREME WEALTH MAKES WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman. Of course, they will jump to small minded conclusions about 'jealousy', 'envy', or 'socialism'. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

  2. following the above comment, comment moderation is now on. Unfortunately I can't delete it without deleting the post too.

    Anyone else who wants to air their demented conspiracy theories can do it under their own name, on their own blog. But you're not welcome on mine.