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Saxonvale debate attracts over 150 people

Plan for the Saxonvale site.

Plan for the Saxonvale site.

OVER 150 people came to the Merlin Theatre on Wednesday 6th November to listen and question Damian Wood and his team from Frontier Estates over their plans to develop the Saxonvale site in the centre of Frome.

Paul Wynne, Frome Town Council clerk said, “While the community didn’t learn that much more, Frontier had obviously listened to a certain extent during their recent consultation and amended their plans so that Vicarage Street and Saxonvale will be relieved of most of the traffic.”

Damian Wood informed the meeting that they had reached agreement with Mendip over the sale of Merchants Barton car park and the abattoir, although the selling price is unknown.

He also confirmed that Terramond, the developer which owns a large area adjacent to the main site, has had preliminary planning discussions with Mendip. It seems that if Frontier’s outline planning application is approved, a further application from Terramond – a developer with a track record in house building – is also likely to submit a planning application to develop their part of the site.

Following the discussion, Cllr Mel Usher, leader of Frome Town Council said, “This is a complex issue as evidenced by the polarised and articulate views we heard on Wednesday night. Frontier have obviously listened to some comments arising from the consultation.  However, I think we all expected Frontier’s presentation to be more informative and dynamic.

“There’s a long way to go and to be frank, until more detailed information is forthcoming, I don’t think anyone can decide whether Frontier’s application is right for Frome. I don’t expect Frome Town Council to decide on our recommendations until January or February following further public discussion.

“In the end Frome Town Council can only make recommendations, the final decision will be made by Mendip.

“And importantly, regardless of the planning application, if Mendip are not happy with Frontier’s application they don’t have to sell them Merchants Barton car park and the abattoir. These are key areas of the site, almost ransom strips and Mendip can insist that every aspect of the scheme is of the highest quality. Just like you or I would if we were selling, say, part of our back garden to a builder.

“They should insist on the right mix of shops and public areas and that Frontier contributes to improving the surrounding historic streets and the road layout on Christchurch Street East before they sell the land.

“We’ll have to wait and see how Mendip handle these aspects but we must have transparency and keep up the pressure.”