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Frome in limbo as Saxonvale saga goes on

A DECISION on the future of Saxonvale remains out of reach as two developers continue to push for permission to build schemes against the wishes of local residents and Frome Town Council.

In the past month, Mendip District Council’s planning board has  again postponed discussing Frontier Estates’ application for the site, and Terramond has lodged an appeal  against the refusal of its housing plan.

Frontier’s controversial proposal to build a retail park and supermarket on the land at Garsdale, was submitted in 2013 but is still pending consideration.

In 2014, Bristol-based property developer Terramond lodged a plan to build 60 homes on the Saxonvale site, but planning permission was refused by Mendip District Council in March this year.

The firm lodged an appeal against the decision in September, and a decision is expected at the end of this month. Neither of the two applications have managed to garner local support, and Frome Town Council has formally objected to both applications, alongside a number of town residents.

Town councillor for the Market Ward and founder of Independents for Frome, Mel Usher, has slated the slow decisions on Saxonvale for hindering progress in the town.

Speaking about Frontier’s retail park application, Cllr Usher said, “The length of this application can now be measured in  years rather than weeks or months. Further delays seem to be inevitable.

“I am not sure who is to blame for this tardiness, is it Mendip Council planners or the applicants Frontier Estates? Maybe both, although the applicants can always appeal against what is called a ‘non-determination’ when the planning authority exceeds a certain time limit before making a decision.

“The fact that this has not been done may reflect the complexity of the application, or maybe enthusiasm for the scheme has waned?

“And there we have the nub of this matter. Ever since the application was submitted the retail market has changed radically; small, more neighbourhood based stores are much in favour and the old style giant shed superstores are definitely out.

“Even as I write, Tesco has announced the shedding of a dozen large sites previously earmarked for new stores. So even if planning permission was granted, the scheme itself may be yet another failed speculator’s dream.

“What is annoying is that the town has had years of being in limbo; will it or won’t it be approved?  If the town centre is to continue to flourish we need much quicker, smarter, braver decision-making. Once a decision is finally reached, the town council is keen to talk to all of the landowners and stakeholders to ensure that this time we produce a viable scheme that produces the right development for Frome with a mixture of retail, employment and housing.”

Frome Town Council, alongside the Civic Society, the Chamber of Commerce and a number of local campaigners has objected to Frontier’s proposed scheme.

A Mendip District Council spokesperson said, “The planning team has raised a number of significant issues regarding Frontier’s current plans for the Saxonvale site in Frome. The application will go to planning board as soon as possible, but we are waiting clarification from the developer on a number of issues and we do not yet have a clear idea of the timescale.”

To see more details of the Frontier application search planning application 2013/2260/OTS at www.mendip.gov.uk. For details of Terramond’s housing application search for 2014/1224/OTS

 

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