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Issue 313 – Have your say on town centre supermarket plans

A meeting has been called to address the possibility of a new supermarket and retail complex on the Saxonvale site – a development that could mean big changes to the town centre.

In order to air the issues, a first public meeting is to be held at the Cheese and Grain on Wednesday 1st December starting at 7.30pm and ending at 9.00pm. To cover the Cheese and Grain hire costs, those attending will be asked to contribute £1 on entry. The meeting is open to everyone.
Mendip District Council has been looking to bring a comprehensive development on the Saxonvale site for a number of years, and the developers have been in initial discussions with retailers and supermarkets to create a retail-led mixed use scheme.
A new supermarket on the site could lead to dramatic changes for the town centre in the future as existing premises and facilities are modified to accommodate the new development.
St James Investments, who are the developers for the site, say that talks with a major supermarket are at a “very early stage” and plan for a consultation to come at the end of the year.
Quentin Webster, a development manager at St James Investments said, “We’re beginning to get to grips with what Frome requires, and will be looking at holding a consultation to invite local people to make suggestions where we can learn what Frome means to people and be in keeping with Frome, and getting to grips with how the town works and what can be enhanced.”
The organisers of the public meeting, who believe that Tesco has plans for the site in the form of a Tesco Extra, say, “It is expected that many people will welcome the giant supermarket with open arms. Others are likely to be strongly opposed, citing the negative impact of supermarkets in general, and Tesco in particular, on independent traders and the liveliness of the existing town centre. In Shepton Mallet, for example, Tesco is widely believed to have had a damaging impact on the town centre.
“To service this store they are planning a 550 space car park (about twice the size of the Market Yard car park). This is likely to have a significant impact on the use of the Mendip District Council car parks which have seen large price rises in recent years.
“The size of the store and car park taken together will result in a drastic scaling down of the number of housing units that can be provided on the Saxonvale site and this may have implications for Mendip District Council to allocate additional greenfield farm land on the edge of town to make up the difference.”