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Town council objects to Saxonvale plans

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FROME Town Council has objected to Mendip District Council’s current plans for the Saxonvale redevelopment, calling them ‘not fit for purpose’.

In its response to the planning application for the site in the centre of Frome, the council has raised concerns about the lack of commercial space proposed, access arrangements for the site, and the ‘inadequate’ traffic assessment submitted as part of the proposal. 

The council has also asked that a pedestrian bridge over the River Frome to connect Saxonvale to Willow Vale be agreed at the outline stage, and that the amount of affordable housing to be provided be agreed at a minimum of 30%,  including social rented and shared equity housing.

Councillors voted unanimously to object to the plans on these grounds at this month’s Frome Town Council ‘Town Matters’ meeting. 

Cllr Richard Ackroyd said at the meeting, “It is right that we should push firmly to get the best that we can for this development. It’s right that we should push for some more commercial land and more social and affordable housing. 

“Mendip ought to be looking at the amount of profit they are getting out of this and say, ‘okay we’ll accept a bit less profit or to break even on this’, as it is such an important development and it is public money after all. Also, the footbridge is essential to make it viable.

“However, it’s a lot better than some of the schemes that we have seen – so I don’t want to knock it completely.”

Regarding the traffic assessment submitted for the planning application, cllr Rob Collett commented, “It just doesn’t stack up as far as I’m concerned. There needs to be a radical rethink if it’s not going to end up in total gridlock.

“The current outline plan is completely insufficient – it is not fit for purpose.”

The Saxonvale site, which has lain empty and derelict for more than two decades, was bought by Mendip District Council in August last year,  with developers, Acorn Property Group, appointed to produce the masterplan for the site.

Frome Town Council is  on the steering group for the redevelopment and has previously made recommendations for what should be included in the masterplan, including a minimum of 30% affordable housing and a pedestrian bridge over the river.

In response to a question from a member of the public who asked how much influence the town council has, considering previous recommendations had failed to make it into the outline planning application, planning and development manager for the town council, Jane Llewellyn said, “They won’t take notice of everything, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try, and carry on negotiating.”

The planning application for Saxonvale was  submitted in mid-May. At the time of going to press the plans have received 27 comments from members of the public, with 24 registering their objection.

To view the full application on the Mendip District Council’s website visit: https://tinyurl.com/saxonvale

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