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Civic Society’s vision for Saxonvale

FROME & District Civic Society has revealed its vision for Saxonvale in light of the news that Mendip District Council has bought the majority of the site and plans to redevelop the area.

In response to the news the Frome Civic Society met with the leader of the district council, to set out an eight-point plan for the redevelopment of the land that has lain empty and derelict for more than two decades.

Suggestions made by the civic society include a well connected Riverside Park and children’s play area; pedestrian connections to the town; a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the river; a new access road; residential development to suit the needs of the community, both young and old; and retail and commercial development.

Chairman of the Civic Society, Richard Swann said, “We trust the district council will bring forward a masterplan or development brief for consultation with the wider community. We expect there are many wish lists circulating locally for uses of the land. The important thing to remember at this stage is that building uses, particularly public and commercial uses, will almost certainly change over time, but the connections, the streets and public spaces, are likely to endure for a very long time indeed.

“It should be a comprehensive and integrated layout. There would be great benefit if it could also include the site owned by Frome Town Council, and we would encourage them to become a partner in developing the site to its best potential.

“We see the connection through King Street and the Kingsway precinct as of critical importance in linking the development to the town. In this regard we encourage Somerset Highways, Mendip Council and the owners of the M&S store and Kingsway, to bring forward compatible proposals that fully integrate the development of Saxonvale with the town.”

The civic society’s eight-point plan in full says that the Saxonvale redevelopment should include:

1. A well connected Riverside Park and children’s play area, retaining the majority of trees covered by the group Tree Preservation Order and the old river meander.

2. Seamless pedestrian linkages to the town including a public square, and shared surface streets, including King Street.

3. A pedestrian and  cycle bridge across the river to connect to the riverside walk through Willow Vale and Rodden Meadow.This path has become a valuable spine route through the town. A bridge would create a welcome bypass for cyclists, avoiding the main town centre roads.

4. A new access road from Garsdale through to the Kingsway car park area to service existing and new commercial developments, alleviating Vicarage Street of non-residential traffic.

5. High quality design of all parts of the development, avoiding pastiche and generic ‘modern’ design, but embracing the special qualities of the town’s spatial and material character.

6. Inclusive residential development with an emphasis on a broad range of dwelling sizes and cost, including a proportion of flats for sale and rent, that suit the needs of the existing community, young and old.

7. A range of retail and commercial development focussed on larger units and follow-on space for growing enterprises, that complement rather than compete with the existing offer in the town.

8. Continuous, active, building frontages at street level on principle routes from the town centre. Taller ground storeys, designed for adaptation to a variety of uses will safeguard future trends in demand for residential, retail and commerce as the town grows.

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