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The Draft Core Strategy for Wincanton

Thursday 2 December 2010, 16:03
By Colin Winder

Colin Winder, Wincanton Town Councillor, South Somerset District Councillor, former Mayor of WincantonBelow are some notes I presented to the Town Council Last week, which shows my research into the problems of the town and the possible way forward with regards to employment.

Colin Winder District Councillor representing the Wincanton Ward

Draft Core Strategy – Preliminary Notes

There is an apparent obsession with housing numbers within the South Somerset "Core Strategy", whereas in Wincanton we have reached saturation point, with unsold houses and flats lying empty. In order to rebalance the work/living lifestyle of Wincanton residents we need to address the employment potential of the town. We should always remember that the unemployed ratio in Wincanton (3%) is lower than elsewhere in South Somerset (3.3%), and considerably lower than the national figures (5.8%). Wincanton is by its nature and proven history a town that works for its living despite all the adversities.

Employment land requirements in relation to housebuilding

Based on information provided by the policy planners:

  • 1053 houses over the plan period.
  • 2.12 people per household = 2232 people
  • Economically active population @70% = 1562 workers
  • RSS states 61% of jobs will be traditional class B uses = 953 jobs
  • Based on employment land revue, 22% in B2 & B8 (50:50 split) and 78% in B1.


  • B1 - 743 jobs. Floor space 19 sm/worker = 14117sm (1.41ha). Ratio floor space to land requirement 0.323 = 4.37ha required
  • B2 – 105 jobs. Floor space 34 sm/worker = 3570sm (0.36ha). Ratio floor space to land requirement 0.4 = 0.9 ha required
  • B8 – 105 jobs. Floor space 50 sm/worker = 5250sm (0.53ha). Ratio floor space to land requirement 0.5 = 1.06ha required

Total area of land required for 1053 new houses is 6.33 ha.

Employment land supply:

Completions 2006/2010 0.29
U/C 0.00
Commitments (2.37) of the planning approval on the New Barns estate, 1.2 ha is for housing, live work units and other non B1,B2, and B8 usage, reducing this figure to 1.17ha of employment land.
Allocated 0.9 (land between Lawrence Hill and the A303)
Lapsed planning approvals (2.25) all of these are in fact in employment. 92/02263/OUT. This is part of the old milk factory site and is a storage area for sand gravel etc for the concrete work, and some staff car parking. 99/01070/COU. This compound is occupied by Yeovil Plant Hire, as part of their business in Wincanton. 99/01918/OUT. This is the development for Markus Products Ltd and was completed as plot 2, phase 3 with application number 02/02486/REM in October 2002. Therefore Lapsed planning is nil.

Employment land supply is therefore 2.36 ha

Employment land lost to housing as brownfield sites in Wincanton

  • Greens Yard, High Street. 0.1 ha (07/00871/FUL) 7 cottages
  • Cale House, Station Road. 0.51 ha (08/03372/FUL) 24 dwellings
  • Land Adjacent to Bellfield House, Station Road. 0.14 ha (07/01472/FUL) 8 dwellings
  • Railway Inn site, Station Road. 0.12 ha (05/02810/FUL) 21 dwellings
  • Council Depot in Moor Lane. 0.24 ha (01/01504/FUL) 13 dwellings
  • Coles Yard, South Street. 0.56 ha (04/01624/REM) 24 dwellings
  • Rochford Garden Machinery, Station Road. 0.4 ha (04/02270/REM) 24 dwellings

All the above were constructed or started after the 2006 deadline.

I have not included the buildings on the Westway Service Station site, which were constructed pre 2006, but was a change of use to 22 flats (0.14 ha).

Area of employment land lost to housing - 2.07 ha

Therefore the area of employment land required to provide a sustainable community in Wincanton, and match the housing allocation is 6.04 ha.

Carbon Emissions and Adapting to Climate Change Implications (NI 188)

Taking the present main site building, and the projected housing:

  •  New Barns Farm Estate: 283 houses
  •  Deansley Way Estate: 245 houses
  •  Projected new houses: 350 houses

 Total: 878 houses

Taking the policy planners figures of 2.12 adults per dwelling, we have 1861 adults. 70% active and working gives an employed level of 1303 Wincanton residents. 50% of the present work force drive out of Wincanton to work. With no real increase in the employment in Wincanton this percentage will increase to at least 60%. Therefore we will have an additional 782 workers by 2026 travelling out of the town each day.

Average daily journey 25 miles equals 19,550 miles travelled by the work force in cars, or 31,280 Km

Average CO2 emissions of a car 180 g/Km (DEFRA figures) equals 5,630,400 gms or 5.63 tonnes

An additional 5.63 tonnes per day of CO2 is unacceptable


With the gradual reduction of employment in the town and the assumption that workers will travel to find work, there is a definite gender inequality of opportunity. Young mothers with children at school are expected to find work. Mothers would still expect to be close enough to deal with emergencies, not 15 to 20 miles away. Schools are not in a position to deal with all problems, therefore require a parent. They (young mothers) are therefore limited to a regime of low paid part time jobs, not career-enhancing employment, unless we start to get the employment within the town back to a balanced and sustainable level.

If we follow the present levels of housing without any balancing of jobs we are failing in the basic tenet of the council constitution to provide equality of opportunity to all.

Retail / Convenience Goods, Floor space requirements

The draft Core Strategy predicts that there will be an increase of 1650sq/m of retail floor space by 2026. This fails to appreciate the basic fact that the reduction of jobs in the town, and workers travelling out to work has already reduced the town centre shopping area. Shops have closed in South Street, North Street, and Church Street and the premises converted to housing (a further reduction in employment).

There is a clear relationship between where you work and where you shop and obtain other services, therefore any growth in town centre retail will be directly related to the number of jobs brought into the town.

General Comments

Over several years we have been informed by responsible officers of the council that there are something in the region of 200 letters a year requesting information on employment land in Wincanton. Although this assertion is based on out-dated information, and the economic background has changed none of these letters appear to have been pursued with a view to bringing jobs into the town. Neither has there been any constructive research to find out why the enquiries failed to materialise into actual projects. We need to establish why a town with the advantages of position, labour market, and an excellent road network, has not progressed in the modern industrial world.

My own minor attempts to encourage businesses to move to Wincanton have stalled on the cost of land. This would suggest that unless we improve both the spread of land and a diversity of ownership there will be a continuous stalemate of available employment.

Collin Winder


Posts: 1
Lack of Business Growth and Gender Inequality
Reply #1 on : Fri December 03, 2010, 17:24:55
I’m glad I waded through all the numbers because Colin has presented a little-thought-of angle that I think is very important here. It’s extremely difficult for mothers, needing to be easily reachable by schools, to find decent jobs close to home in an area where employment land is actually shrinking.

Forced to take low-paid jobs just to stay local, mums are very often trapped into accepting employment way below their abilities and ambitions.

If we continue to build new homes at the rate proposed, without sufficient growth in business, the number of women in Wincanton in this situation will increase. As a percentage of the overall working population in our town, the figure in low-paid work will get ever bigger. Far from becoming a thriving, prosperous town, we'll simply scrabble to not become a ghost town.

My opinion? Forget new housing for a while - concentrate on creating an infrastructure in Wincanton that can help new residents thrive, not merely survive.
Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 17:28:10 by *  
Posts: 1
As a mum and new resident
Reply #2 on : Sat December 04, 2010, 22:18:44
I moved to wincanton 5mths ago and as a mum i have to say the local job options are limited for anyone who moves here, my husband has been lucky and found some part time work locally but as for full time or some thing that will fit in with school hours or emergancys these have yet to be found. On a plus side i would like to say how welcoming and friendly the residents of wincanton have been.
Nick Colbert
Posts: 3
The Draft Core Strategy for Wincanton
Reply #3 on : Sun December 05, 2010, 10:58:46
Firstly a warm welcome to Susy, my father-in-law moved to Wincanton from Bath a few years ago and was pleased and surprised by the friendliness of Wincanton people, especially in the Bear (The pub that is).

A well researched and thought out paper by Colin Winder, the previous government set targets for new house completions and that is unlikely to change under the coalition. Building on in town brownfield sites is encouraged by national government so the question is: “We need more employment so what do we do we do about it?”

I would suggest the answer is to expand the Wincanton Business Park by auctioning off land to design & build developers who construct purpose built premises to order. Once a developer outlays substantial amounts of money on land they generally want to build and sell units as quickly as possible to turn their money over and make a profit, so they immediately advertise the opportunity to businesses nationally. With Wincantons proximity to a main arterial dual carriageway it would be attractive to many companies who currently know little of our existence.

Once this is underway quality new jobs will come to Wincanton, receptionists, engineers, technicians, managers, secretaries, I.T. jobs, drivers, factory staff etc etc. Then there are secondary job opportunities for local suppliers, postal staff, taxi companies, sandwich sellers, and more, and before that we have to build the premises employing brickies, electricians, plumbers, plasterers, roofers, surveyors, painters, road construction gangs and signage companies.

With a little drive, energy and enthusiasm we can bring all this about, then we will have a much better balance of jobs and houses.
James Phillips
Posts: 3
Re: The Draft Core Strategy for Wincanton
Reply #4 on : Mon December 06, 2010, 16:16:28
Sorry, but I still fail to see what problem this rampant home building is actually solving? Which particular fault of this towns requires more houses to solve it? This appears to have the sole effect of moving us closer to be being like Yeovil.
Wincanton used to be a beautiful, quiet town. It is slowly becoming another sprawling clone town, all in the name of fancy projections and targets.

Why can the council not stand up for those who live here instead of buckling to the business community endlessly? Wincanton is fine as it is and does not need to be any bigger. This is a disgrace. No one will judge you kindly for this in 20 years time.
Nick Colbert
Posts: 3
The Draft Core Strategy for Wincanton
Reply #5 on : Sun December 12, 2010, 17:24:50
The problem you outline, James, is the national policy of how many houses are needed in Britian, which is not in the hands of local politicians. For the last 13 years it has been in the hands of the Labour government who set targets for housebuilding across the UK. They partly feel they need to accommodate the millions of people they have let enter the UK over the past decade, if you feel this is changing the nature of Britain and Wincanton in particular you are probably right, but that is nothing to do with local politics. You need to take it up with your M.P.

If local politicians ignore national housing policy and keep turning down planning permission they end up being passed on appeal by a national inspector and then there is no local input at all. Your M.P. is the only person who has any power to stop it.

With regard to business, the point Colin Winder is making is that we have lost a lot of jobs and land which used to provide jobs to residential housing, creating an imbalance. I won't repeat the examples Colin has given, they are above, but there is also the former Unigate factory. Wincanton used to be a town dependant on one company, Unigate, when that closed we had Wincanton Transport left (Unigates Transport division), they have now relocated to Devizes and we have lost another substantial number of jobs that Unigate and Wincanton Transport provided. Their head office was at Cale House and employed many. That is now housing. Plessey used to employ approximately 2,500 in Templecombe, they have been through 4 different owners and are now Tallis the workforce has shrunk to the hundreds as opposed to thousands and one of their two sites has become housing rather than a place where jobs could be provided.

I recommend an expansion of the business park as a sensible way to provide some employment in the area, to make up for the loss of jobs that has occurred in this area over the last decade and a half.

Isn't that simply common sense?
Last Edit: December 13, 2010, 09:59:31 by Nick Colbert  
James Phillips
Posts: 3
Re: The Draft Core Strategy for Wincanton
Reply #6 on : Tue December 14, 2010, 15:04:13
I should make it clear, as it wasn't in my original comment, that my comment was not specific to Colin's article here but a general remark about the way a lot of people feel about the council as a whole and the lack of genuine consultation. It seems that the level of public consultation for a lot of the recent decisions has been as minimal as possible, with meetings etc not being properly advertised and therefore not attended, if they have even existed at all.

"They partly feel they need to accommodate the millions of people they have let enter the UK over the past decade". This may be true, but my comment had nothing to do with immigrants etc changing the nature of britain or wincanton. It was down to the pure change in size which will result from these new houses. Wincanton is slowly losing its character as a small rural town and nothing is being done to stop this.

As for expanding the business park - it of course depends on what new business is brought in as to whether this is a good move.
Nick Colbert
Posts: 3
The Draft Core Strategy for Wincanton
Reply #7 on : Wed December 15, 2010, 14:36:14
I agree with all that you say regarding the nature of Wincanton and lack of consultation. I have just written to virtually the whole of Wincanton with a residents survey attached, including a certain James W Phillips, asking for feedback and any concerns people have. It was a huge undertaking but I agree with your thoughts regarding consultation which is why I did it. Many people have responded and it is a very useful way of getting the mood of the town and its concerns. So far the major issues are the prospect of car parking charges, which will kill the town centre, local jobs and the roads.
James Phillips
Posts: 3
Re: The Draft Core Strategy for Wincanton
Reply #8 on : Sun December 19, 2010, 15:48:02
I commend you for taking the time to put together the survey, but the results of the 'major issues' clearly mean very little if my contention that the public has not been consulted properly is true. This is because if people don't know about the changes, they won't be concerned about them and so it won't show up in a survey.

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