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150 Marston Lane houses refused

By local democracy reporter Daniel Mumby

“SPECULATIVE” plans for 150 new houses in Frome have been thrown out by Mendip District Council after concerns were raised about road safety. 

Masterplan of proposed development of 150 homes on Marston Lane in Frome.

Gleeson Strategic Land Ltd. put forward initial proposals (known as a screening option) in December 2021 to build up to 180 houses on the western side of Marston Lane in Frome, located off the busy B3090 Marston Road. 

The Fleet-based developer subsequently submitted an application to the district council, slightly reducing the total number of houses to 150 and including a community hub at the southern edge. 

But the district council has now refused the plans outright, claiming the site cannot be accessed safely and would have a “significant adverse impact” on existing residents. 

Frome Town Council’s planning committee also unanimously objected to the plans last month, describing them as “utterly and totally speculative” and “not sustainable.”  

The site is not included in either the district council’s original Local Plan (which was adopted in December 2014) or the additional allocations within the Local Plan Part II (which was ratified by councillors in December 2021). 

The site does lie within the parish of Frome, a short distance from the town’s Sainsbury’s supermarket, but it lies outside the defined development boundary of the town, as set by the district council’s Local Plan. 

The proposals included 45 affordable houses (meeting the council’s target for 30 per cent affordable housing in any new development of ten houses or more) and the creation of four new access roads onto Marston Lane – including one directly opposite the existing junction with Mason’s Way and one near the existing junction with the B3090. 

The district council’s head of service for planning and growth, Julie Reader-Sullivan, identified six reasons for refusing the plans: 

The site is located in “open countryside” and is therefore “considered unsuitable for further housing growth within the town”. 

The prominent nature of the site would lead to a “a significant adverse impact” on the local landscape and the existing views of Frome.

The developer has provided “insufficient information” about how local heritage and archaeological assets would be protected. 

The developer has not indicated how it would contribute towards new school places or improvements to the Beckington and White Row roundabouts on the busy A36.

The development cannot be safely accessed, with the plans “resulting in highway safety concerns for existing and proposed users”. 

The developer has not demonstrated how the risk of flooding would be mitigated, both for the site and the wider area. 

District cllr Richard Pinnock, whose Frome Park ward includes the site, was among the numerous objectors to the plans. 

He said, “Marston Lane is a busy road which is narrow in places – locals use it as an alternative to the congested Marston Road and The Butts. There is already a dangerous junction where the road turns sharply.” 

Cllr Shannon Brooke, who represents the neighbouring Beckington and Selwood ward, described the plans as “speculative” and supported cllr  Pinnock’s comments. 

The Frome Civic Society also objected, with its chair Dr Patricia Smith stating there was “no evidence” that such a large number of new houses was required in Frome. 

She said, “Development in the other towns in Mendip is currently restricted as a result of the government’s ruling on nutrients neutrality (the phosphates embargo). 

“This is channelling speculative housing development towards Frome, which already has more homes than its economy and services can support. 

“There is a demonstrable housing need in Frome only for genuinely affordable homes. 

“Approving this will represent over-development of market housing, resulting in dormitory settlements where most residents will work elsewhere, and house price levels will be driven far higher than local people can afford.” 

The southern edge of Frome has seen a number of significant housing developments approved in the last 12 months, including a number of sites identified within the Local Plan Part II. 

The council’s planning board voted in February to approve two large new developments – 249 houses across two sites either side of the B3092 The Mount, and 198 houses on the Keyford Meadows site on Sandys Hill Lane. 

Plans have also been put forward to create the Selwood Garden Community of more than 1,700 houses near the A361 – but a decision on this has been delayed following objections from National Highways. 

Gleeson has not yet indicated whether it intends to appeal against the council’s decision on the Marston Lane plans. 

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