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Issue 332 – The two sides of the Saxonvale debate…

‘Frome For All’ backs town centre supermarket

A new group is being formed, saying they want to provide more balance in the debate over the future of the Saxonvale site in Frome town centre.

The new group, ‘Frome For All’, has launched the ‘Town Centre Campaign’ to put the case for a town centre development, including a supermarket and a range of other new shops. The group says, “Until now, the organised campaigning on the future of Saxon Vale has been dominated by those strongly opposed to a new town centre supermarket on the site.
“Those campaigners however represent only one strand of local opinion. We are seeking to promote the views of others and thereby ensure that different views representing the local community are heard.”
One of the founders, Michael Rhodes, talking about the new group said, “We want to see a town centre that is well used by all. Our name reflects our campaign to ensure that Frome develops in a way that meets the needs of all local people. We want shopping facilities, especially in the town centre, that meet the needs of the whole community so that many more people shop locally.”
‘Frome for All’ has highlighted five initial priorities for Saxonvale and the town centre:
• More of the shops people want, need and use most often in the town centre. This would ensure, as far as possible, that local shopping needs are met locally.
• To help the environment by significantly reducing the number of car journeys to other towns or out of town supermarkets for day to day shopping needs.
• To help build a stronger community and enhance the viability of the whole town centre by increasing the number of local people who regularly use the town centre.
• To ensure a well designed and well landscaped development that links well with the existing parts of the town centre.
• Improved traffic management within Frome and a more pedestrian friendly town centre.
‘Frome For All’ says it plans to highlight the social, economic and environmental benefits of a town centre development that would reduce Frome’s over reliance on out of town supermarkets and regular trips to other towns by many residents.
Michael Rhodes summarised the aims of the ‘Frome For All’ town centre campaign saying, “We want a thriving and vibrant town centre that meets the needs of the whole community. Saxonvale offers the opportunity to ensure that more of the shops people want, need and use most often are available in the town centre. Achieving this would be good for the community, the local economy, the town centre and the environment.”
Those who would like to find out more about ‘Frome For All’ are invited to call or text Michael Rhodes on 07714 460801 or email at fromeforall@yahoo.com

Campaign against a big supermarket gains national exposure

This weekend Frome will be the focus of a national story on communities trying to stop supermarket takeovers.

The Guardian has selected the town to feature alongside others working to protect their retail independence.
The campaign against the build of another large supermarket in Frome has attracted a growing amount of media interest; those against the proposed retail build welcome the exposure.
Luke Wilde, Frome resident and chairman of the group which has organised public meetings about the Saxonvale redevelopment commented, “We hope that this feature will help to put the concerns of many in Frome in a wider context. We are by no means alone in wanting a strong voice in decisions which affect our town’s future.”
Support from TV presenter Kevin McCloud has also helped to spark further interest in the campaign; Luke explains the next steps needed. He said, “Kevin reinforced the argument for the vision represented in the Planning Brief document, reassuring us of its viability and providing examples of where such visionary and sustainable development were taking place.
“Our challenge now is to support and strengthen that planning model which was developed with thorough community consultation. Our district councillors need to be emboldened. Too often when I speak to them, I hear concerns over the costs of legal battles against the big supermarkets.
“Yet across the country people are demanding the planning process works for them, refusing to fold in the face of big corporate pressure. In Frome, we have a major advantage over other communities, with what Kevin McCloud calls our suit of armour – the Planning Brief.”
The feature on towns against large supermarket is due to run this Saturday 6th August in The Guardian’s Weekend magazine.

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