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No to ‘cramped’ & ‘bland’ police station homes

MENDIP District Council last week threw out controversial plans to build 61 new homes on Oakfield Road’s old police station site, saying “the scheme as a whole does little to contribute to the local identity”.  

Councillors gave a resounding thumbs down to the proposal at a meeting on Wednesday 15th April, backing local residents who had objected to the scheme.

The plans submitted by  Newland Homes Ltd had previously provoked concerns about traffic, school places, and the proportion of affordable housing.

Mendip cited problems with traffic problems, affordable housing provision, and the housing itself being unsuitable for the area, as reasons for refusal.

The official decision said, “The Transport Assessment submitted with the application fails to demonstrate that the proposed development would avoid causing traffic problems within the transport network and maintain the safety of highway users at nearby school drop-off and pick- up times.

“The provision of only four affordable housing units is inappropriate for this particular location and contrary to the Mendip District Local Plan.

“The proposal represents an overdevelopment of the site in that the density provides a cramped form of development that is out of character with the pattern of development in the area.

“The proposal would represent an unacceptable form of development in terms of design. The street frontage is bland and does not contribute to the street scene, the houses do not make a positive contribution to the local vernacular and the scheme as a whole does little to contribute to the local identity and distinctiveness of the area.”

Helen Sprawson-White, councillor for Frome Oakfield Ward said, “There are so many issues with this  application. It is a unique site surrounded by conservation areas and sharing its immediate vicinity with three schools for which the catchment areas make vehicular transport a necessity.

“There is unanimous community objection to this application. The community is accepting of the fact that this site will be developed for housing, despite being a previous employment site, but this must be a sensible build that takes into account the various sensitive needs of the area.

“There is a serious and existing issue with traffic, congestion and road safety in this area, and whilst I appreciate that the statistical comments submitted by Highways suggest that there is not an issue with the additional traffic flow that will come with the development, a simple visit to the area during the school drop off and pick up times would prove the physical reality of the situation.”

An application was made in February last year to build 64 homes on the same site; it was rejected on the grounds that such dense living conditions would put too much pressure on the area.

The most recent application was submitted with just three fewer residences.

Cllr Sprawson-White continued, “The site was earmarked for employment use, of which the neighbourhood plan would have looked favourably upon, yet we are offered this high density housing plan with no employment whatsoever.

“The local primary school is already oversubscribed each year and the middle school and SEN schools are growing rapidly in population and reaching full capacity. We are talking about the safety and education of a lot of children!  The infrastructure is already struggling to cope with an ever expanding town.”

Newland Homes’ proposal included up to 61 new two, three, and four bedroom residential dwellings and modified access from Oakfield Road.

For more details on the application go to with reference 2014/2211/FUL.