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Victory for Easthill campaigners. Green space is dropped from district council’s housing plans

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after it was confirmed by Mendip District Council that the Easthill site will not be used for housing.

Instead, the green space will be retained for a possible future extension of a neighbouring cemetery – which campaigners have cautiously welcomed, explaining that they won’t object to plans if it can be proved that  there will be “no impact” on wildlife in the area.

Campaigners have told Frome Times that they would prefer that the site was given to Frome Town Council, to allow the community to have a say in the future use of the site.

The news brings to an end a six-month long campaign that was launched in early-November last year after the district council announced its intention to build more than 160 new houses across five sites in a partnership with Aster Housing – including up to 77 homes on the Easthill site in Frome.

About the formal withdrawal of the Easthill site from the district council’s Social and Affordable Housing Programme, Bharati Pardhy from the Friends of Easthill Field group told Frome Times, “We are enormously relieved that Mendip District Council has realised what a special place this is, and that it is far too precious and rare to be built on.

“We’re finding new creatures that live here all the time. One found recently is a nationally scarce humble creature – the hoverfly bumblebee mimic.

“And so far this year we have found over 50 different species of moths in the field – it really is a rich and biodiverse area.”

About the possibility of the site being used as an extension to the neighbouring cemetery, Bharati said, “That’s a discussion for another time, when we know more about what is exactly here. If we can be convinced that there will be no impact on any of the wildlife by having perhaps green burials, then we wouldn’t be objecting to that.

“There needs to be more research in to what is here and the implications of disturbing the soil and habitat.”

However, with possible changes on the horizon to the structure of local government in Somerset, the group has said that it fears a new governing authority may not be as responsive to their  concerns as Mendip has been. Therefore they intend to keep championing the site as a community green space, to help safeguard its “ecological value” for the future.

“We think that it is more constructive to try and guide the decision making about Easthill before changes to the unitary councils happen,” said Bharati. “We would really love it if Frome Town Council could take on Easthill – and then Frome could decide the future of Easthill knowing all the facts about what is exactly here.”

Left: The hoverfly bumblebee mimic on the Easthill site by Bryan Haylett.

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