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Concern over new planning application for Police Station

Concerned residents outside the police station

Concerned residents outside the old police station

RESIDENTS, parents and representatives from local schools have voiced their concerns about a planned residential development on the old police station site.

The Oakfield Road site has been subject to a fresh planning application from Newland Homes for 61 homes, just three homes less than their previous application which was rejected in June.

At the time  Mendip District Council cited how the plans submitted were not of a sufficient quality or accuracy for the Local Planning Authority to make an assessment of the traffic impact that the proposal could have. The proximity of local schools to the site is also thought to have had an impact on this. Furthermore, the district council said, “The proposal represents an overdevelopment of the site in that the density provides a cramped form of development that is out of character with the pattern of development in the area.”

Now, the most recent application has sparked anger from several locals which led to a meeting being organised recently by concerned residents, parents and local schools including Oakfield Academy, Trinity and Critchill.

The meeting highlighted four reasons why attendees believe the application should be refused:-

• Lack of affordable housing as Newlands only wants 22% of the homes to be in this category.

• Over-development as there are too many houses in such a small space of land.

• The appearance and design does not suit the conservation area.

• The infrastructure is not sufficient for schools, green spaces and traffic.

Oakfield Road resident Pacsale Gillet who chaired the meeting said, “61 dwellings equals increased traffic, congested roads at school beginning and end times, danger for the children, but also, unsustainable designs looking backwards to the 1980s when it was all about greed and when we thought energy was always going to be cheap and affordable.

“The local community is getting organised. We want a solution that will create affordable, sustainable homes, a density not above the national average for new built and which doesn’t put the lives of school children at risk!”

“There is not enough affordable housing and we asked architect Ric Swann who calculated that even with only 30 to 40 dwellings, Newland is still making a 25 percent profit. They want to build 61. Our conclusion, Newland is taking being greedy.

“Newland wanted 64 in July, now they’ve gone down to 61 dwellings, which we would find laughable if we didn’t also feel they are taking us for fools. I discovered that in England, the average density of dwellings for new developments is 25 dwellings per hectare. The government recommends that it shouldn’t fall below 20 per hectare for all new developments. The Police Station site at Oakfield is 1.27 hectare. If we were to follow the national average, we should have no more than 31 dwellings on this piece of land. Greed again.

“Mendip felt that the houses did not suit this conservation area. As far as we can make out, the only change Newland is offering is a different kind of concrete rendering. We’re not impressed.

“Our last concern was infrastructure. They have massively overestimated the previous traffic from the site from police and therefore made light of the impact of traffic from the proposal.

“In 2014, people are more sussed, they can tell when someone is trying to pull the wool over their eyes. Newland’s idea of housing is unsustainable. It’s expensive and substandard. Whereas today, it’s possible to build cheaply and carefully something sustainable and zero-energy that doesn’t jeopardise our future.

“People were very taken up by the fact the site is for sale for £1.7million and is affordable if we got together as a community. When the option rules out, we will be there.

“Helen Sprawson White, our elected representative on this ward, compiled all the objections people expressed, as well as letters of objections which she will hand-deliver to the planning manager at Mendip District Council.”

The planning application will be discussed by Frome Town Council on Thursday 4th December. For updates on the campaign against the proposal visit the group’s Facebook page therightdevelopment forOakfield

Anyone who would like to comment on the application can do so by visiting