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Somer Valley: Strategy overview and key issues

11 March 2024

We have revised site option diagrams and descriptions of site mitigations at Farrington Gurney 

Check the revised pages

Figure 45: Map showing location of the Somer Valley

Place profile


7.1    This chapter relates to the Somer Valley area illustrated on the map above and primarily outlines context, key issues, priorities and opportunities. It is followed by sections on specific places within the Somer Valley.

7.2    The Somer Valley area covers a large area including many larger and smaller settlements surrounded by hilly countryside and attractive green spaces. The larger settlements are Midsomer Norton, Radstock, Westfield, Paulton and Peasedown St John and these settlements all have their own character and different amenities.

7.3    The area has a rich industrial and mining history, and this heritage is visible in both the settlements and landscape. Some of the paths to the old mines are still in use and old railway lines and the canal have found a more recreational use. The batches from former mining work characterise the surrounding landscape and can have high ecological value and nature recovery potential.

7.4    There has been significant population growth in the Somer Valley between the 2011 and 2021 censuses with 36,546 people recorded in the 2011 Census, which increased to 52,264 residents in 2021. In terms of household size, the largest percentage of households in the Somer Valley are made up of two people. There is a high level of out commuting and a high level of car use. 

7.5    Manufacturing, Construction, and Transport & Storage are the most concentrated sectors for employment in the Somer Valley relative to Bath and North East Somerset as a whole. The Somer Valley’s absolute employment numbers in Construction, Professional, Scientific & Technical, Administrative & Support Services, and Human Health and Social Work have increased, and there has been growth in other sectors as well. There have been significant employment losses in Manufacturing in the Somer Valley in recent decades.

Transport and traffic

7.6    The Somer Valley has a dispersed settlement pattern, an undulating topography and is physically distant to other key settlements such as Bristol and Bath. Somer Valley has relatively limited dedicated cycle infrastructure and no railway provision. Therefore, residents need to travel to Bath, Bristol or Frome, to access rail service . There is a lack of bus connections between the east and west of the Somer Valley, poor services in more rural areas and lack of connections between villages. The principal roads within the Somer Valley are the A367, A37, A362 and A39.There is typically congestion during peak hours on the A367, A362 and A39. Congestion and the associated impact of traffic is also experienced within the Somer Valley, notably in the centres of Radstock and Midsomer Norton.  

Proximity to Somerset Council: Duty to co-operate 

7.7    The Somerset Council administrative area is located directly to the south of the Somer Valley. Therefore, we are engaging with Somerset Council to discuss strategic cross-boundary matters, such as housing provision, transport and other infrastructure. 

Key issues

  • Evidence from the Employment Needs Assessment suggests net employment land requirements over the Plan period in the Somer Valley area comprise around:
    • 800 sqm office space
    • 7 to 9 ha industrial floorspace
    • 4 ha warehousing / logistics floorspace
  • Some of this employment land requirement can be provided through existing commitments (sites with planning permission or allocated in the adopted Local Plan for employment development). These existing commitments will need to be reviewed in preparing the Draft Local Plan.
  • The Somer Valley area has had significant housing development over the adopted Local Plan Period from 2011. However, that has been delivered on a piecemeal basis, with little infrastructure provision resulting from, and needed to serve, development. 
  • Restructuring of the local economy has resulted in some businesses closing and an increase in out-commuting to other areas for work.
  • Midsomer Norton and Radstock town centres have limited footfall, due to the lack of diversity in retail offers, as well as a lack of an attractive food and beverage offer.  
  • There is a lack of sustainable and active travel links in the area, and steep topography creates a constraint to active travel. Access to public transport is patchy, and within some areas access is very limited. Bus provision has been reduced in recent years. 
  • The A37 is a major road that runs through several towns and villages and creates a severance barrier in these communities. 
  • The Somer Valley has a rich mining heritage, but it could be better promoted and curated.  
  • There is a lack of wayfinding, which affects residents' and visitors' ability to access the countryside.  

Priorities and objectives

  • Facilitate opportunities to enable existing businesses to be retained and new employers attracted to the Somer Valley, in both established and emerging sectors, and generate a range of jobs that will mean local residents have access to, and can thrive in, good work
  • Provide homes to help meet need, including the provision of homes that are affordable, and a mix of homes to meet the varying accommodation needs of the population, including homes for older people.
  • New development should complement the Radstock Town Centre Regeneration Action Plan and the Midsomer Norton Heritage Action Zone aiming to increase footfall to these town centres. 
  • The Local Plan Partial Update removed the site allocation at South Road Car Park for a supermarket. Opportunities for the use of the site will be reviewed, alongside the wider regeneration of Midsomer Norton Town Centre.   
  • New development should complement the Somer Valley Rediscovered Project to provide greater opportunities for people to engage with and enable nature recovery. 
  • The Somer Valley has health and well-being needs that the built and natural environment can play a role in addressing. There are high levels of childhood obesity, people living in poverty, levels of physical inactivity, and poor adult mental health. It is also an area with lower levels of active travel. 
  • New development should complement the Somer Valley Links project (view Engagement Report) to provide a greater choice of transport via sustainable and active travel (walking, cycling, wheeling and public transport). 
  • WECA have allocated funding to explore the feasibility of mine water heat recovery for district heating

Discussion question

Question 1: Somer Valley key issues, priorities and objectives

Do you agree with the issues, priorities and objectives for the Somer Valley? Is there anything else you think we should investigate or include?

Status message

The Local Plan Options Consultation has closed