North Somerset

North Somerset (/ˈsʌmərsɛt/) is a unitary authority area in England. Its area covers part of the ceremonial county of Somerset but it is administered independently of the non-metropolitan county. Its administrative headquarters is in the town hall in Weston-super-Mare.

North Somerset
North Somerset shown in Somerset
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth West England
Ceremonial countySomerset
Admin HQWeston-super-Mare
Created1 April 1996
  TypeUnitary Authority
  LeaderDon Davies[1]
  CouncilNo overall control[2]
  MPs:John Penrose C
Liam Fox C
  Total144.66 sq mi (374.68 km2)
 (mid-2018 est.)
  Total213,919 (Ranked 83rd)
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
  Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ISO 3166 codeGB-NSM

North Somerset borders the local government areas of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, Mendip and Sedgemoor. The area comprises the parliamentary constituencies of Weston-super-Mare and North Somerset.


Between 1 April 1974 and 31 March 1996, this area was the Woodspring district of the county of Avon (named after Woodspring Priory, an isolated mediaeval church near the coast just north east of Weston-super-Mare). The district of Woodspring was formed from the municipal boroughs of Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and Portishead urban districts, Long Ashton Rural District, and part of Axbridge Rural District.

Though the government proposed that the new unitary area be known as "North West Somerset" from 1 April 1996,[3] the council voted instead to adopt the name "North Somerset" and so the name "North West Somerset" was never widely used. There remained some legal doubt as to whether the council had validly changed the name to "North Somerset",[4] but in 2005 the council passed a resolution to put the matter beyond doubt.[5]


North Somerset Council, a unitary authority, is elected every four years, with currently 61 councillors being elected at each election. Since the first election to the unitary authority in 1995, the council has either been under Conservative party control, or no party has held a majority. As of the 2019 election the council is composed of the following councillors:[2]

Party Councillors
Independent 17
Conservative Party 13
Liberal Democrats 11
Labour Party 6
Green Party 3


The principal towns in the district are the coastal towns of Weston-super-Mare, Portishead and Clevedon, and the commuter town of Nailsea.

Places of interest

North Somerset's natural environment and coastal towns attract visitors from the nearby cities. Notable geographical features include:

The district is noted for the religious buildings at:


Image Name Status Population Former local authority Coordinates Refs
Abbots LeighCivil parish799Long Ashton Rural District51.46°N 2.65°W / 51.46; -2.65 (Abbots Leigh)[6][7]
BackwellCivil parish4,589Long Ashton Rural District51.41°N 2.73°W / 51.41; -2.73 (Backwell)[6][7]
BanwellCivil parish2,919Axbridge Rural District51.32°N 2.86°W / 51.32; -2.86 (Banwell)[6][8]
Barrow GurneyCivil parish349Long Ashton Rural District51.40°N 2.67°W / 51.40; -2.67 (Barrow Gurney)[6][7]
BlagdonCivil parish1,116Axbridge Rural District51.33°N 2.72°W / 51.33; -2.72 (Blagdon)[6][8]
BleadonCivil parish1,079Axbridge Rural District51.31°N 2.94°W / 51.31; -2.94 (Bleadon)[6][8]
BrockleyCivil parish277Long Ashton Rural District51.39°N 2.76°W / 51.39; -2.76 (Brockley, Somerset)[6][7]
BurringtonCivil parish464Axbridge Rural District51.33°N 2.74°W / 51.33; -2.74 (Burrington, Somerset)[6][8]
ButcombeCivil parish218Axbridge Rural District51.35°N 2.69°W / 51.35; -2.69 (Butcombe)[6][8]
ChurchillCivil parish2,235Axbridge Rural District51.33°N 2.79°W / 51.33; -2.79 (Churchill, Somerset)[6][8]
Clapton in GordanoCivil parish348Long Ashton Rural District51.46°N 2.75°W / 51.46; -2.75 (Clapton in Gordano)[6][7]
CleeveCivil parish902Long Ashton Rural District51.39°N 2.77°W / 51.39; -2.77 (Cleeve, Somerset)[6][7]
ClevedonTown21,281Clevedon Urban District51.43°N 2.85°W / 51.43; -2.85 (Clevedon)[6][9]
CongresburyCivil parish3,497Axbridge Rural District51.37°N 2.81°W / 51.37; -2.81 (Congresbury)[6][8]
DundryCivil parish829Long Ashton Rural District51.39°N 2.64°W / 51.39; -2.64 (Dundry)[6][7]
Easton in GordanoCivil parish4,828Long Ashton Rural District51.48°N 2.69°W / 51.48; -2.69 (Easton in Gordano)[6][7]
Flax BourtonCivil parish715Long Ashton Rural District51.42°N 2.71°W / 51.42; -2.71 (Flax Bourton)[6][7]
HuttonCivil parish2,582Axbridge Rural District51.32°N 2.93°W / 51.32; -2.93 (Hutton, Somerset)[6][8]
KennCivil parish431Long Ashton Rural District51.42°N 2.84°W / 51.42; -2.84 (Kenn, Somerset)[6][7]
KewstokeCivil parish1,690Axbridge Rural District51.37°N 2.96°W / 51.37; -2.96 (Kewstoke)[6][8]
Kingston SeymourCivil parish388Long Ashton Rural District51.39°N 2.86°W / 51.39; -2.86 (Kingston Seymour)[6][7]
LockingCivil parish2,756Axbridge Rural District51.33°N 2.91°W / 51.33; -2.91 (Locking, North Somerset)[6][8]
Long AshtonCivil parish6,044Long Ashton Rural District51.43°N 2.65°W / 51.43; -2.65 (Long Ashton)[6][7]
LoxtonCivil parish192Axbridge Rural District51.29°N 2.89°W / 51.29; -2.89 (Loxton, North Somerset)[6][8]
NailseaTown15,630Long Ashton Rural District51.43°N 2.76°W / 51.43; -2.76 (Nailsea)[6][7]
PortburyCivil parish827Long Ashton Rural District51.47°N 2.72°W / 51.47; -2.72 (Portbury)[6][7]
Portishead and North WestonTown23,699Long Ashton Rural District
Portishead Urban District
51.48°N 2.77°W / 51.48; -2.77 (Portishead and North Weston)[6][7]
PuxtonCivil parish359Axbridge Rural District51.37°N 2.85°W / 51.37; -2.85 (Puxton)[6][8]
St GeorgesCivil parish3,379Axbridge Rural District51.36°N 2.90°W / 51.36; -2.90 (St. Georges, North Somerset)[6][8]
TickenhamCivil parish910Axbridge Rural District51.44°N 2.80°W / 51.44; -2.80 (Tickenham)[6][8]
Walton in GordanoCivil parish273Axbridge Rural District51.45°N 2.83°W / 51.45; -2.83 (Walton in Gordano)[6][8]
Weston in GordanoCivil parish301Axbridge Rural District51.46°N 2.79°W / 51.46; -2.79 (Weston in Gordano)[6][8]
Weston super MareTown76,143Axbridge Rural District
Weston super Mare Municipal Borough
51.35°N 2.97°W / 51.35; -2.97 (Weston-super-Mare)[6][8]
Wick St LawrenceCivil parish1,331Axbridge Rural District51.38°N 2.91°W / 51.38; -2.91 (Wick St. Lawrence)[6][8]
WinfordCivil parish2,153Long Ashton Rural District51.38°N 2.66°W / 51.38; -2.66 (Winford)[6][7]
Winscombe and SandfordCivil parish4,546Axbridge Rural District51.31°N 2.83°W / 51.31; -2.83 (Winscombe and Sandford)[6][8]
Wraxall and FailandCivil parish2,302Long Ashton Rural District51.44°N 2.73°W / 51.44; -2.73 (Wraxall and Failand)[6][7]
WringtonCivil parish2,633Axbridge Rural District51.36°N 2.76°W / 51.36; -2.76 (Wrington)[6][8]
YattonCivil parish7,552Long Ashton Rural District51.39°N 2.83°W / 51.39; -2.83 (Yatton)[6][7]


North Somerset's economy is traditionally based on agriculture, including sheep raised for wool on the Mendip Hills and dairy farming in the valleys. This is celebrated at the annual North Somerset Show. During the Georgian era tourism became a significant economic sector in the coastal towns, most notably Weston-super-Mare which grew from a small village to a large resort town. Though tourism declined in the mid to late-20th century, in common with most British coastal resorts, this sector of the economy has stabilised.

In the 19th century the major port city of Bristol found that modern ships had outgrown the narrow river approach and the Port of Bristol company began seeking locations for new docks on the coast. The first of these was Portishead Dock, which handled coal from South Wales, though this too has seen shipping outgrow its facilities. The newer Royal Portbury Dock is noted for the large volume of car imports.

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of North and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire at current basic prices (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling. [10]

YearRegional Gross Value Added1Agriculture2Industry3Services4

^1 Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
^2 includes hunting and forestry
^3 includes energy and construction
^4 includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


North Somerset compared
UK Census 2001North Somerset UA[11]South West England[12]England[12]
Total population188,5644,928,43449,138,831
Foreign born9.5%9.4%9.2%
No religion16.6%16.8%15%
Over 75 years old9.9%9.3%7.5%

North Somerset covers an area of around 145 square miles (380 km2) and has a resident population of 193,000 (1.4% BME) living in 85,000 households.[13]

The population of North Somerset has doubled since the 1950s and is predicted to rise by 6,184 or 3.0% to 2011 and by 17% to 2026. Whilst the proportion of people in North Somerset who are under 45 is lower than the national average, population growth is predicted to be strongest in the 2034 age group. Conversely North Somerset has a 4.2% higher percentage of older people (60+ female, 65+ male) than the rest of England and Wales. This disparity increases with age with the percentage of the population over 75 years almost 30% higher than the national average, resulting in a relatively aged population.[14]

In 2001 there were 134,132 people of working age living in North Somerset and 91,767 were in employment; an economic activity rate of 68.4%. This is very close to the economic activity rate of the West of England sub-region which was 68.8% in the 2001 census.[13]

The 2001 census stated that 1.38% of North Somerset residents identified themselves as belonging to a visible ethnic group and a further 1.27% identified themselves as 'white other'.[15]

Population since 1801[16]
Year 1801 1851 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population North Somerset[17] 16,670 33,774 60,066 68,410 75,276 82,833 91,967 102,119 119,509 139,924 160,353 179,865 188,556


The Unitary Authority of North Somerset, provides support for 78 schools, delivering education to approximately 28,000 pupils.[18]

Weston College is the main provider of further education in the area. University Centre Weston offers higher education courses in conjunction with Bath Spa University and the University of the West of England.

See also


  3. "Article 4 of the Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995 (SI 1995/493)". 28 February 1995. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  4. "Report to the Executive". 14 June 2005. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  5. "Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council". 28 June 2005. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  6. "2011 Census Profile". North Somerset Council. Archived from the original (Excel) on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  7. "Long Ashton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  8. "Axbridge RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  9. "Clevedon UD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  10. "Regional Gross Value Added" (PDF). National Statistics. 21 December 2005. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
  11. United Kingdom Census 2001 (2001). "Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics: Area: North Somerset". Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  12. United Kingdom Census 2001 (2001). "Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics: Area: Bath and North East Somerset". Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  13. "Local Area Agreement for North Somerset 2007–2010". North Somerset Partnership. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  14. "Culture, Leisure and Tourism and Topic Paper" (PDF). North Somerset Core Strategy document. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  15. "North Somerset Council Race Equality Scheme 2007–2010". North Somerset Council. Archived from the original (Word) on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  16. A Vision of Britain through Time
  17. "North Somerset: Total Population". A Vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS Project. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  18. "Schools". North Somerset. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
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