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Fight is on against Frome police station development

Frome Town Council is taking the fight to developers who plan a development on the former Police Station site, against the wishes of local people.

In a radical move, the council will be engaging specialist solicitors and transport consultants to actively fight the developers and are also launching an action group to represent local views.

It is the first time the town council has taken such direct action in a planning issue. Usually the council is simply consulted over planning issues and the decision is made by Mendip District Council. If an application is refused and the applicants appeal, it is up to Mendip District Council to fight the appeal.  Now though, Frome Town Council is taking the fight to the developers themselves aiming to oppose what they see as ‘inappropriate development’ on behalf of the community.

“For the first time in its history, Frome Town Council has decided to take a radical approach over inappropriate development in the town,” says the council.

“Mendip District Council refused a very poor planning application by Newlands Homes in April this year to develop the Police Station site on Oakfield Road. Newland Homes have since submitted an appeal.

“The hearing will take place later this year but evidence in support of the refusal must be with the Planning Inspectorate by 12 August.

“Frome Town Council, along with local residents and district Cllrs will support Mendip’s decision at the appeal and agreed on  the 22nd July to a raft of radical actions in order to make the voice of the community heard.

“These include engaging specialist solicitors and transport consultants to provide expert advice and representation at the appeal and forming an action group comprising local people, district and town Cllrs and experts to co-ordinate the campaign.

“Plans to redevelop the Police Station site at Oakfield Road have been a major cause for concern since the first planning application was submitted in March 2014.

“Frome Town Council strongly objected to the latest application for the erection of 61 dwellings because the amount of proposed dwellings on the site would  have a major traffic impact on the surrounding area. In addition to this the design of the dwellings and the lack of the appropriate amount of affordable housing on the site was not acceptable.”

Cllr Pippa Goldfinger, on behalf of Frome Town Council, added,  “Whilst we recognise the need for new housing in Frome, this is a simply a poor application from Newlands and runs roughshod over what the community needs and their safety.

“It is vitally important that housing is of the best possible quality and there is proper provision for affordable housing. There will be traffic safety problems on Oakfield Road and the surrounding area with literally hundreds of cars mixing with hundreds of children going to school every day.”

 

ALOCALcouncillor has criticised developers Newland Homes after they  launched an appeal against the refusal of their application for the old police station site.

Newland Homes, which hopes to convert the Oakfield Road site into 61 homes, had its second application thrown out by Mendip District Council in April this year – fewer than 12 months after their last one was dismissed.

The company’s agent Pegasus Planning Group,  this month appealed against Mendip’s decision, arguing that the plan had been sufficiently changed to overcome the reasons for refusal in 2014’s application.

Town and Mendip District councillor Helen Sprawson-White, who represents the Frome Oakfield ward and is also leader of Mendip’s Liberal Democrats, has condemned  the company’s actions.

Cllr Sprawson-White said, “I’m very disappointed that Newland have decided to appeal without reviewing the concerns expressed by the planning board, myself and the community at large.

“It shows a complete disregard for the community they wish to build in, whilst claiming to be a developer that has a good reputation for working with the people.

“The second application  they submitted was tweaked at best, and in fact offered less affordable housing through exploiting new legislation for their own financial gain. The major concerns expressed by the community and myself, in particular in relation to very real existent traffic concerns, were ignored by both the developer and the county council.

“I would like to see the community consulted as to what they want on the site and the Police Authority, who have a duty of care to our community and especially to the safety of the 1,000+ children and families that travel to the three schools, to engage proactively with the local community and councils to provide a development which responds positively to the needs of the area.”

When the planning application was submitted last winter,  a large number of local people protested against the development amid concerns about road safety in the area and the density of the build.

The appeal submitted by Pegasus Group argues that the proposal avoids traffic problems, is of an acceptable scale and development, and that the  provision of four affordable housing units is “appropriate”.

The report says, “The reasons for refusal mirror the original reasons for refusal, despite these having been addressed and appropriate changes agreed with the case officer.”

The report recommends allowing the appeal, concluding that, “The proposal will deliver sustainable development on a brownfield site, in a sustainable location and in accordance with the NPPF and officer report that went before committee.”

 

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