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Frome and District Civic Society voices concerns over Market Place proposal

An artists impression of the proposal

An artists impression of the proposal

Frome and District Civic Society has voiced its concern and objected to the proposed changes to Frome town centre.

The society has campaigned for many years to improve the Market Place, clear the Boyle Cross of parked cars and has encouraged proposals to make the area easier for pedestrians to cross.

However, they say that the proposal made by Frome Town Council will make it harder to cross the Market Place and it will be a safety concern. They feel that a stepped platform should not go ahead and that the natural slope should remain. The Frome and District Civic Society also feel the proposed idea by the town council has not been properly consulted.

“In 2012, research by Landscape Projects, the consultant appointed by the town council, found that up to 300 people per hour cross the part of the Market Place earmarked for improvement,” says the Society. “Extensive public consultation of their feasibility study resulted in what is known as Option 3 being adopted by the town council.

“‘Option 3’ was a scheme to improve the two existing level crossing points from The George to the Boyle Cross and at the bottom of Bath Street and to relocate the Cork Street crossing. Landscape Projects were later replaced by a firm of highway engineers, IMA. The first phase of this scheme for the Boyle Cross area was brought forward this year and the civic society say this was  without further public consultation on the detailed proposals.”

Chair of Frome & District Civic Society, Richard Swann added, “We have significant reservations about the developed scheme brought forward by IMA, that will make it impossible to implement the previously consulted and agreed ‘Option 3’.

“A stepped platform around the Cross is proposed, extending further than the inaccurate and misleading illustration that has previously been published. This would obliterate the existing, heavily-used level crossing point on the desire line of Cheap Street from the George Hotel, being blocked by steps running down into the carriageway.

“As well as the hazard posed by steps at the edge of the carriageway, a future crossing here would be prevented by the proposed stepped platform. This is a critical crossing place because road junctions, lay-bys and bus stops make a new crossing elsewhere in the Market Place impractical.

“It is not clear why the council has abandoned plans to improve the crossing. The stated reason for the stepped platform around the cross is that it will be better for markets.

“A market has existed on this sloping site for centuries. The close proximity of the steps to the cross will prevent market stalls using the area as they currently do and will obstruct and inhibit other future uses.

“The proposed stepped platform around the Cross should be deleted and the natural slope of the ground retained as it exists now, to reduce unnecessary costs and provide a more useful, simpler and safer setting for the Cross, that will allow the future provision of the pedestrian crossing shown in the agreed proposals for ‘Option 3’.

“Reluctantly,  Frome Civic Society objects to the current planning application. We hope the town council will reconsider the current ill-judged proposals.”