Core Strategy - Consultation Draft

Delivering a Prosperous Economy

CS20: Supporting a Successful Economy

CS20: Supporting a Successful Economy

Development in North Somerset will be employment-led with a strategy to both deliver significant employment development and to ensure that new residential development is provided in association with employment opportunities. Employment provision that leads to greater self-containment and reduces outcommuting will be prioritised.

The Core Strategy provides for around 29,500 jobs. To facilitate this around 88 hectares of land will be required to meet demand for office, industrial and warehousing (B use classes). Jobs provided from land uses outside of the B use classes will be delivered through regeneration and the development of other uses planned with public/ private sector organisations and phased as part of a comprehensive approach to development at the broad locations identified in this policy.

Broad location of employment development

Employment provision will be focused at Weston-super-Mare, primarily within the urban extension and at the town centre/gateway area. Elsewhere, appropriate scale provision at Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead will be identified/approved where this improves self-containment, and reduces out-commuting. Elsewhere, economic activity appropriate to the scale of the settlement will be approved where this leads to greater self-containment and stronger local communities.

The broad strategy aims to achieve a more sustainable alignment between jobs and the economically active population across towns and villages in North Somerset, increasing their sustainability, decreasing out-commuting, providing a range of local jobs and reducing carbon emissions from unsustainable car use. In all cases priority will be given to the reuse of previously developed land.

Safeguarding employment sites and premises

Existing and proposed employment generating sites will be safeguarded through the Site Allocations Development Plan Document. A Supplementary Planning Document will be prepared setting out masterplanning and phasing requirements for the Weston urban extension including the provision of employment sites.

Employment development will be delivered alongside infrastructure improvements, as part of mixed use sites, or as part of wider regeneration initiatives to 'unlock' sites for development in the short to medium term of the plan period.

The strategy for Weston as a whole relies on employment being delivered early in the plan period within a masterplanning framework and using employment-led mechanisms.

Where appropriate, opportunities should be taken to support innovative ways of working, including the provision of live/work units where acceptable and planned for in other Local Development Documents.

This policy contributes towards achieving Priority Objectives 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.


The growth of the economy is inherently linked to housing development and the increasing labour force. The increase in jobs across a range of sectors and prosperity takes place in part influenced by the commercial market and also by local land use planning and initiatives such as regeneration to stimulate activity. A key role for the Local Development Framework in addition to co-ordinating wider action to deliver employment development is to ensure that plans and policies make provision for enough land to support and encourage future business activity and that a range of proactive policies are in place to support job creation in the context of sustainable development.

The economic functioning of North Somerset is largely influenced by its geographic position in addition to the local workforce, infrastructure capacity and commercial attractiveness. Its proximity to Bristol, adherence to national trends of rural land use changes, and largely dispersed settlement pattern has resulted in significant out-commuting and poor self-containment particularly at Weston-super-Mare which underperforms in an economic sense in comparison to similar sized towns.

It is against this context that the aspiration to create more sustainable places, both existing and new is derived, to increase the range of jobs, local prosperity, necessary to achieve a sustainable settlement pattern across the district.

The Core Strategy approach

The council considers employment and the economy as key priorities and will seek to facilitate employment and economic investment where it accords with the Core Strategy.

Employment-led approach across the district

There is a general strategic policy aspiration to ensure that all new development is sustainable and contributes to reducing the existing problems of out-commuting, lack of local employment opportunities and associated problems such as congestion and deprivation.

Policy at Weston-super-Mare in particular has a history of attempting to achieve a greater alignment between jobs and homes. The emerging strategy is to link housing provision to employment development at the urban extension. The delivery of 1.5 B use class jobs for every new home in addition to employment opportunities that will derive from non B use classes will be required to ensure the town is more balanced.

Within Weston town centre the emerging Area Action Plan identifies a range of regeneration sites including residential, employment and other mixed use sites that together provide an employment-led strategy. However at this stage it is not proposed that housing will be linked to employment the same way as at the urban extension in an effort to stimulate development/regeneration. Nevertheless it is considered that mixed use sites should have some mechanism linking delivery of employment elements to residential.

At Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead greater self-containment will be pursued with the provision of employment opportunities to meet local needs. It is considered that the Core Strategy should have targets for employment development (job numbers and land take) matched to the quantity of residential expected to be developed between 2006 and 2026. Such employment need is mainly going to be small scale development on brownfield land and will be identified within the forthcoming Site Allocations Development Plan Document.

Indicative employment requirements

Weston Town Centre 15.2 hectares

Weston Urban Extension 61 hectares

Clevedon, Portishead, Nailsea 12.1 hectares

This could provide around 20,160 business industrial and warehousing jobs . Additional jobs[1] from non B uses take the Core Strategy total up to around 29,500 jobs which is considerably more than baseline forecasts suggest though these are based on historic activity and continuance of past trends. The Core Strategy seeks to create an office market at Weston, regenerate the town centre and continue employment development along the M5 corridor (at existing employment sites with residual capacity in Portishead and Clevedon). It is important to note most of this requirement could be met on existing sites.

This policy sets out these broad employment land requirements to meet future demand up to 2026 setting out a strategic framework to guide the broad quantity and distribution of employment development, giving certainty to local communities and the business community about where employment development will be encouraged. It also sets out a general provision to protect the existing stock of employment land.

Broad location of new employment development

Employment development is directed to the main areas of population growth linking to the underlying strategy of aligning jobs with homes in key areas. This strategy is underpinned by the Regional Spatial Strategy which aims to link local jobs to meet local labour supply and thus achieve a sustainable balance between land uses. This has the potential to reduce the levels of out-commuting and increase self-containment bringing additional spin-off benefits including reducing carbon emissions from dispersed development due to increased car use.

office building

How and where the policy will be delivered

There remains in North Somerset a considerable supply of land and sites available to meet business needs alongside existing regeneration initiatives. However additional sites are required to be allocated as part of the Weston urban extension alongside the allocation of mixed use sites in Weston town centre to support regeneration. At the major development areas employment allocations will be phased with residential and other infrastructure to deliver a comprehensive development. At Weston-super-Mare employment development and land uses that create employment will be delivered ahead of residential schemes to ensure additional residential development takes place in a sustainable way without contributing to additional pressure on infrastructure.

Strategic Allocations will be made in this Core Strategy that will include employment development indicated on a key diagram in broad terms. Further detailed masterplans will form part of SPD to guide development and decision making with the necessary phasing and delivery mechanisms set out accordingly.

Consideration should be given to mechanisms for stimulating and promoting economic development. This could include setting up an Employment Investment Fund whereby funds contributed through development can go towards supporting employment development, skills enhancement, local labour agreements, marketing activity and business support. Schemes contribute through mechanisms such as Section 106 agreements.

In order to encourage a wide skills base and strong workforce within North Somerset, opportunities should be sought to develop initiatives to support learning and skills development in association with key public and private partners. Opportunities should be sought to harness relationships between local business and education facilities.

Developers are encouraged to collaborate to bring forward comprehensive development requiring considerable negotiation to co-ordinate delivery with the necessary infrastructure providers.

Alternative options and contingency planning

There are alternative scenarios that could be pursued in the Core Strategy centring on different employment targets possibly expressed as a range, where employment should be directed, and how employment should be delivered alongside new housing including the use of phasing mechanisms.

The council will be flexible in applying its policies to prioritise employment development, especially in the early years to ensure delivery and job creation.

Monitoring and review

Monitoring will assess employment land take-up monitored through the Employment Land Survey, and indicators such as unemployment rates, and jobseeker claimants as well as indicators of the level of self-containment.

Employment development will be monitored within Weston-super-Mare against net housing completions in order to provide an indication of the balance between jobs and homes and the effectiveness of the employment-led strategy.

1. There is however significant potential for variation dependant on employment densities and plot ratios. [back]