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‘Scrap Saxonvale plan’ says Chamber as meeting approaches

FROME Chamber of Commerce has again called for Mendip District Council to scrap the outstanding Saxonvale application, as the local authority is expected to discuss the plan for a retail park next week.

Frontier Estates’ application to build a supermarket and retail park is now  set to be decided at a planning meeting on Wednesday 16th December. It had been scheduled for discussion at meetings in both September and October, but still has not appeared before the district board.

Frome Chamber of Commerce has reiterated its opposition to the application, after it teamed up with the town council, civic society, and Keep Frome Local earlier this year.

Chamber president Nigel Harris said, “When considering the plans for Saxonvale our emphasis is on whether they will improve the town as a whole – both as a place in which to live and do business.

“We do support new development and new retailers coming to Frome. But we feel the Frontier scheme centre just won’t do that. We hope the district council will reject the application at December’s meeting. Frontier doesn’t have a viable scheme or a scheme that would be good for Frome. The site is key to Frome’s future – a bad scheme will blight the town – waiting for a good one does not.”

The Chamber has expressed concerns about traffic problems, parking, and the viability of the plan.

Nigel Harris continued, “At the heart of this outdated plan is a large supermarket. With supermarket chains cutting back on new store openings, and even closing some, we believe no operator will be attracted to this unit which means the whole scheme won’t happen. And that will just continue to blight the entire site and stop better schemes from being brought forward.”

Keep Frome Local, which has been campaigning against Frontier’s application, is organising coach travel to and from the meeting for local residents.

A group spokesperson said, “Just when you’d rather be dipping into the mince pies we’d like you to take a trip to Shepton Mallet! The planners will finally be making their decision on the most important planning application in Frome’s recent history, and we need you to be there to show the strength of feeling.”

Coach places cost around £4 each and will pick up at 5pm from the town centre. For more information contact Katy via keepfromelocal@gmail.com

Campaigners and town councillors have previously criticised the duration of the process, and are hopeful that the application – submitted in 2013 – is outdated and thus more likely to be refused.

When the meeting was last postponed, town councillor Mel Usher said, “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. If the town centre is to continue to flourish we need much quicker, smarter, braver decision-making.”

The meeting will take place at Mendip District Council’s offices in Shepton Mallet from 6pm.

To see more details of the application search planning application 2013 /2260/OTS at www.mendip.gov.uk