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Save our green spaces! Social housing plans spark community protests across Frome

COMMUNITIES across Frome are standing up against plans to build houses on much-loved green spaces. 

Residents say that the plans for up to 30 houses across several sites in the town will result in the loss of green space that is used by residents young and old for recreation purposes, impact wildlife living in the area, and exacerbate already “nightmare” parking issues.

Behind the proposals is the Fair Homes Project – a partnership between Frome Area Community Land Trust (FACLT), Selwood Housing Group, and Mendip District Council. The project aims to build up to 30 “new high-quality, fair rent, family homes”, for those in “desperate” housing need. 

Director of the Frome Area Community Land Trust, John Clarke, has acknowledged the “mixed feelings” stirred up by the project, and has explained the challenge to find suitable space to help combat Frome’s “social housing crisis”.

He said, “There is no easy solution. If not these green spaces for social housing, then where should social housing be built? 

“The answer is surely not building social housing regardless of the environmental cost. Nor is the answer not building social housing because all green spaces must be protected regardless of the social cost. 

“It is about meeting the need for both and finding the balance between protecting green space and providing housing for those in urgent need of a home. This is about homes and the question should be asked: do homes take precedent over the loss of some green spaces?”

Included in the consultation – which closes this Friday, 11th June – are green spaces at eight sites: Farley Close; Hodders Close; Randolph Road; Feltham Drive & Austin Close; Cranmore View & The Grove; Selwood Crescent; Grove Mead; and Mountfield.

A ninth site, Tower View, was withdrawn from the consultation as it is considered a memorial space by residents.

A number of community meetings and protests about the plans have been held across the town – and there has been calls for the consultation to be extended, to allow for more residents to have their say.

Farley Close resident, Tracey Matthews, told Frome Times, “It’s a fantastic green area where our children play together, have fun, [get] lots of fresh air and most importantly are extremely safe. There’s not anywhere local that they can play – losing it would force families to go further afield.

“And we are concerned for the wildlife – hedgehogs and bats which we all love. And the parking – there’s limited parking here and parking can already be a nightmare for us.

“For our campaign we are asking the community to contact us if they have ever lived at Farley Close and may have some photos of them on the green. The email address to contact us on is savefarleyclosegreen@gmail.com ”

About the proposal for the Cranmore View & The Grove green space, Lisa Rendall – who has observed and photographed wildlife on the green, including a rare pink grasshopper – said, “I’m hugely concerned about the wildlife that use that space, which will be lost if the houses are built on the green. And people use the space to walk their dogs, and let their children play there.

“And we’ve been there 40 years and the parking is terrible already – which raises problems for the emergency services.

“There are lots of other places they could build these houses – there’s not going to be any green space left in the town at this rate.”

A Selwood Crescent resident – where a 78-strong protest was held over the Bank Holiday Weekend said, “In addition to being a well-used play area for children too young to cross roads alone, an area where community events have been held over decades and a safe place to learn to ride bikes, its daily visitors also include older residents no longer able to walk significant distances or, in many cases, also no longer able to drive.”

About the plans for the green spaces at Mountfield and Feltham Drive & Austin Close, trustee of The Friends of The Mount, Marston and Keyford, Scott Ward said, “We are completely supportive of any project that aims to address the needs for social housing in our town, but are sad to see the green spaces in our area being considered for this project. 

“The Mount is an area of town with lots of income families and residents already in social housing and the green spaces were designed to break up the terraced houses and provide a much-needed natural respite, especially in the recent times during lockdown and restricted access to places outside of the immediate area.

“We think that the proposed plans can be amended in some cases to minimalise the impact on our green spaces and possibly make use of other spaces not already highlighted by the proposals.”

For more information about the Fair Homes Project, visit the website – register your interest, and have your say: selwoodhousing.com/fairhomesproject

4 Responses to Save our green spaces! Social housing plans spark community protests across Frome

  1. Tim Bentley

    June 9, 2021 at 7:39 am

    The proponents of this extremely damaging scheme have made a very serious mistake by taking the lazy option in trying to develop these ‘green field sites’.
    What is even worse they are planning to fell some of the Frome Millennium Trees. The was a major tree planting scheme that I instigated, planned and implemented 20 years ago. Many wonderful Frome people helped with the tree planting and these proposals are a real kick in the teeth to their efforts.
    These green spaces around the town should be preserved in perpetuity.
    If the developers think that ‘green washing‘ the plans’ with a few bird boxes compensates for the loss of
    these sites, then it just shows how out of touch they are with environmental and conservation issues.
    What’s the alternative?
    Take a good look around the town and find brown field sites of which they are plentiful.

  2. Sarah wilkins

    June 9, 2021 at 9:57 am

    I totally agree with Tim,

    Enough brown sites exist including garage blocks that are half empty due to the rent being so high, to attack these tiny green spaces such as the grove is senseless and insensitive to all these communities who have relied on these spaces during the last 10 months. It is interesting to see around the mount estates , for example, mendip /aster having so off all these patches of green at the end of terraces to private owners for relatively small sums, one patch in particular now with a private fence around it would have fitted at least two houses.

  3. Christine Morgan

    June 9, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    On my original house deeds the area where they propose to build is clearly marked “Play Area”. There is no other play area on our housing estate.
    My children and now grandchildren have played safely here, today it is equally popular with local children and adults.
    We’ve held social gatherings here and it’s our green haven for birds and wildlife.
    There is a huge building project near Sainsbury’s surely social housing could be incorporated here.
    The well being and mental health of residents close to these small green areas will be severely affected.
    There is also the problem with parking, extra vehicles causes a ripple effect into adjoining streets.
    Please please Save Our Green Spaces

  4. Paul S

    June 10, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    Well said Tim.

    The Selwood Crescent proposal is a very poor one. All the other green spaces should also be protected. Tackling the lack of affordable housing is only going to get worse so the issue is not build more. There must be many housing opportunities above the shops in Frome. A tourist tax should be added to airbnb accommodation and incentives to the owners of these properties for them to move into a council backed fair price rental income scheme. A huge issue here and im lucky to have a house but i dont have a Porsche, a boat or a caravan as i cant afford it!

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