Shepton Mallet Town Council’s Neighbourhood Plan Team which is made up of residents and local councillors, have released a revised vision for how planning decisions should shape the future of the town.

Feedback from residents and businesses to the Regulation 14 consultation that took place in May/June last year has shown how local people’s view of the future of their town has changed. The Neighbourhood Plan (2014 – 2034), if finally approved in a referendum, will have legal force to influence all planning applications in the area, to protect important land and buildings, and guide opportunities for future expansion. It will be subject to further consultation by Somerset Council, and a formal examination, in due course.

The team received nearly two hundred comments during its major (Regulation 14) consultation last year, and the revised Vision Statement has taken those comments into account. The revised Vision Statement (below) will underpin a set of planning policies and objectives for the town and surrounding area.

REVISED VISION STATEMENT

During the lifetime of our Neighbourhood Plan, Shepton Mallet is expected to grow considerably in size. It will have increased in energy and imagination and raised expectations
in all sections of the community. Its economy will be strengthened through its contribution to the arts, through investment in tourism, food, and night-time economy, and through the
proactive development of new business initiatives and improved training, skills, and employment offers. It continues to value its proximity to some of the most beautiful countryside in England, and good planning based on the opportunities and policies included in the Plan has meant that its rich character as one of Somerset’s historic small market towns will have been firmly established.
Shepton Mallet will have successfully addressed the need for town centre regeneration. By re-purposing empty shops and buildings, we will have creatively re-imagined the high street as an exciting mix of residential, retail, and leisure activity, with a range of independent shops, businesses, and high-quality food outlets. The imaginative development of the Prison complex, with its emphasis on tourism, leisure, and the arts, along with the growth of a vibrant night-time economy, will have increased both footfall and the visual appeal of the town.

Sustainability through the use of solar, ground source, and wind power, together with ecological planning, has become a priority. Traffic management and pedestrian safety have improved. Greater frequency of internal and external public transport, together with the development of walkways, cycle paths, and green routes into and around the town have encouraged people to leave their cars at home. This has reduced congestion and the pressure on the town’s car parks and has improved the town centre as a place to stop and walk around. Its shops and businesses are thriving in both daytime and evening, increasing job opportunities for local people.

Access to the countryside and its many walking and cycling routes has been retained and improved, with both visitors and residents enjoying the high-quality environment and leisure activities. Local Green Spaces have been protected, and our biodiversity has been enhanced. New health and leisure facilities have been developed, with more local recreational facilities and public meeting places being provided. Some small-scale housing development will have taken place on infill sites, but following the policies in the Neighbourhood Plan it has matched the size, scale and character of the existing built environment and is meeting local housing needs. This has meant that neither younger nor older people need now to move away to find affordable or suitable housing. A strong community spirit continues to exist, and new residents have successfully integrated into the town, giving everyone the opportunity to live a healthy, safe, and satisfying life.