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Saxonvale Plans Revealed – ‘First major investment in Frome town centre for a generation’

PLANS for the redevelopment of the Saxonvale site have been revealed, which include a ‘medium sized’ supermarket, shops for new retailers, and a new public square. 

Billing the plans as ‘the first major investment in Frome town centre in a generation,’ developer Frontier Estates says that the long-awaited scheme will increase the town’s attractiveness to shoppers and retailers and help reinvigorate Frome’s economy, as well as generating an estimated 300 new jobs.  The supermarket is described as ‘much smaller’ than the controversial 40,000 sq ft store that was proposed in 2010, a change that has been welcomed by local campaign groups. Frontier Estates say that overall, there will be more new floorspace for new high street shops than sales space in the supermarket.

However, the size of the supermarket, and identity of the supermarket operator, have not yet been revealed. More details on the plans are due to be released next week, with two public consultations being held on the 18th and 21st September.

Campaign group ‘Keep Frome Local’ has welcomed plans for a smaller supermarket. However, it urges caution until more details are known. It also says that, in light of this and other developments, a more ‘coherent planning approach’ may be needed for the whole town. The group will host a public meeting on the subject on Wednesday 25th September.

John Harris, of Keep Frome Local said, “On the face of it, what we know of these plans is too vague to pass definitive comment.

“In principle, we welcome Frontier Estates’ commitment to a smaller supermarket than the 40,000 sq foot store that was proposed three years ago, and assume it will concentrate on selling food, and therefore not threaten Frome’s independent shops in the way a giant supermarket would. We certainly endorse the plan for new public space in the town, which Frome sorely needs.”

Campaign group ‘Frome For All’ has welcomed the new plan. Phil Whitmarsh, a former mayor who is supporting the campaign said, “We are pleased that at last there are proposals coming forward to bring new shops, hundreds of jobs and regeneration to our town centre.

“Saxonvale offers our last opportunity to significantly reduce the loss of trade and improve town centre shopping for local people. We believe there is a strong case for a medium sized supermarket in the town centre to bring shoppers back and to help attract other new shops that would also help prevent many trips to other towns.”

View the proposals

Frontier Estates is inviting the community to view the emerging proposals and provide feedback while the proposals are still being prepared. Members of the public are invited to attend a drop-in consultation event, where the proposals will be on display and members of the team on hand to answer questions.

The events will be held at The Archangel in King Street, on Wednesday 18th September from 12pm to 5pm, and  Saturday 21st September from 10am to 2pm.

The proposals, and a chance to comment, will also be available at www.Saxon

The Notts Industries site lies at the heart of the wider Saxonvale development area. As part of the development of the emerging proposals, Frontier will be consulting on their emerging plans, as well as presenting an overall plan for the whole site, prior to submitting a planning application in October.

Damian Wood, development director at Frontier Estates said, “We think this is a fantastic scheme for Frome and the local community. The Saxonvale site as a whole can contribute greatly to the town’s success and we have worked hard to develop proposals that we believe respond to the town’s needs. We are looking forward to hearing the community’s views.”

Need to debate more coherent planning approach

After people have had a chance to view Frontier’s presentations, Keep Frome Local will host a public meeting at the Cheese and Grain on Wednesday 25th September at 7.30pm.

John Harris, of the Keep Frome Local groups said, “There is a debate to be had about the big picture. Asda has plans to extend, there is talk of Lidl doing the same, there may be soon be space in the Westway Centre for a new supermarket, and we know there are plans for chain convenience stores in Badcox and Fromefield. We need to debate what all this means for the future of Frome, and whether a more coherent planning approach is needed.

“With all that in mind, we have organised an open public meeting to start to discuss all this. It will be at the Cheese and Grain on Wednesday September 25th between 7.30pm and 9.00pm, less than a week after the second presentation by Frontier at the Archangel. They will be invited, along with local councillors. The meeting will not be dominated by people on a platform; we intend the evening to revolve around discussion and debate about our town, and what happens to it. All are welcome, whatever their view.”