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Town council objects to ‘dated’ plan for 319 houses

FROME Town Council has objected to plans to build 319 houses on the southern edge of Frome – demanding that the town deserves better.

The council has raised concerns about vehicular access to the site, the lack of pavements and cycle routes,  the development’s impact on the environment and local traffic, and have called for more consideration to be made to make the site more “sustainable” and “carbon neutral”.

About the design and layout of the site, which is made up of three developments adjacent to each other – in the south of Frome, stretching from Little Keyford Lane to either side of the The Mount – cllr  Paul Horton described it as being “stuck” in the 20th Century, highlighting a lack of consideration to make houses more energy efficient.

And whilst it was acknowledged that the developers were planning to build houses that would produce 4% less carbon emissions than current building regulations allow, councillors said that the plans are not enough and that they “expect more”.

Highlighting that current building regulations are soon to become outdated as the Government sets new targets, cllr Steve Tanner appealed to developers to be more “forward thinking” and build houses that are “future-proofed”.

A representative for one of the developers, David Wilson Homes – who are responsible two of the sites – offered some reassurance that the houses will be compliant with 2021 building regulations.

But cllr Horton described the developers as “disingenuous” and criticised them for expecting new home owners to carry the cost of “retro-fitting” their properties.

“Developers aren’t really prepared to come into the 21st Century until they are dragged there by legislation,” said cllr Horton. They have to be forced by legislation.”

The town council’s comments mirror similar concerns raised by local campaigners who described the plans as providing houses that are ‘low-cost’, ‘high-profit’, and ‘environmentally-damaging’, and not the kind of sustainable housing Frome needs or deserves.

At the town council’s planning committee meeting last month, local group Friends of Little Keyford (FOLK), appealed to the town council to “firmly” object to the applications, raising their concerns about  access to the site, its impact on the environment and the  “sustainability” of the development.

Member of FOLK, Joe Hannam Maggs, warned councillors that FOLK believes that if  their concerns are ignored, it will set a “dangerous precedent” for what might come later for Frome. 

“If development must go ahead, at least let it be appropriate applications,” said Joe.

At the meeting, the three applications – 118 dwellings on land south of The Mount; 70 dwellings on land at Little Keyford Lane; and 131 dwellings on land at Little Keyford Lane to The Mount – were considered as one application, as requested by Mendip District Council’s planning inspector, as part of the district council’s Local Plan process.

However, councillors criticised the three applications for their lack of connectivity.

“We have no masterplan,” said cllr Anne Hills, who also raised concerns about the lack of pavements and cycle routes.

“These are three different plans,” said cllr Richard Ackroyd. “It all feels separate.”

Vehicular access to the site was also a concern raised by councillors – again demonstrating councillors’ concerns that the applications lacked a “masterplan”.

Whilst it was welcomed that David Wilson Homes had removed vehicular access on to Little Keyford Lane from one of their sites – Little Keyford Lane to The Mount – an issue that had been raised in the council’s previous objection – it was noted that the site being developed by Wainhomes, still showed access for vehicles to the site from Little Keyford Lane.

Councillors, and FOLK explained that they felt access to all three sites should be via The Mount (B3092), and that installation of a roundabout should be considered.

It was resolved at the meeting to object to the plans, appealing to the developers to produce a better “masterplan” for the site.

Cllr Horton added that the design “has improved” but said it has long way to go before it is “acceptable”.

The applications closed for comments last month. They will now be considered by Mendip District Council.

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