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Last chance to save Whatcombe Fields


Whatcombe Fields

Whatcombe Fields

TIMEis running out for local residents and campaigners to rescue Whatcombe Fields. The Save Open Spaces group is trying to complete a petition and raise the £300,000 needed to buy the land to prevent property developers building on it.

The campaign began this summer and has managed to raise £73,000 in pledges so far, but needs another £227,000 by Christmas to secure the land, which is a popular spot for walkers and families, is home to a diverse wildlife including owls, buzzards, bats, voles, and butterflies, and is known for being used for sledging in the winter months.

Save Open Spaces is raising the money using a fully regulated community share scheme that will give the community ownership of the land. The minimum share purchase is £250 and you can pledge to buy multiple shares, or you can make a basic donation of any amount. The shares won’t earn interest but it will be possible to withdraw your money at a future date.

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to buy some beautiful fields together in Frome,” said group member Anna Francis. “Currently used as grazing land the fields, 54 acres, were sign-posted as having ‘development potential’. With so much of our precious green space being lost forever under concrete, a group of concerned residents is trying to protect them as a space for leisure, pleasure and ecology for generations to come.

“Investing in land collectively is probably a safer bet than having money in the bank in the current climate. It’s also a property investment; a local estate agent estimated that my house would lose 10% of its value if the fields were lost. Living close to such wonderful green space was definitely one of the reasons we moved here.

“Save Open Spaces will set up a community trust and democratically elected management committee to manage the site.”

The land being auctioned is 54 acres of grazing fields beside Whatcombe Road. It was originally put up for auction in June with development potential, but local residents successfully rallied to have the sale postponed in order to raise the funds to buy the land.

A petition ‘Don’t Build on Whatcombe Fields’ has also been created for submission to Mendip District Council’s planning department. At 197, it is just three signatures shy of its target 200. One  petitioner Heather said, “Frome needs to keep these fields for the generations to come, so they can enjoy them as much as the previous. We cannot keep building on our lush green fields!”

Three months have passed and the group is not yet halfway to £300,000. To find out more or to make a pledge or donation, contact save; post to: Save Open Spaces, c/o Frome Town Council, 5 Palmer Street, Frome, BA11 1DS; or phone Ruth or Anna on 01373 465757. The petition can be signed at