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Government funding bid for Saxonvale community centre?

By local democracy reporter Daniel Mumby.

MILLIONS of pounds of government funding could be secured to help deliver a new cultural facility within the Saxonvale site in Frome. The project is part of an application to the government for ‘levelling up’ community money and the town council has applied for funding to produce a feasibility study for a possible community and cultural centre. 

The Acorn Property Group was granted permission byMendip District Council in late January to redevelop the brownfield site in Frome town centre, with work getting under way to clear the site in August. 

In addition to delivering 300 new homes, the plans envision turning one of the former Notts Industries buildings (known as the Western Warehouse) into an arts and heritage centre. 

The council has now hinted that the site could benefit from a bid to the government’s levelling up fund – with the town council currently seeking other grants to judge how viable the proposal may be. 

Bids to the levelling up fund are done on the basis of parliamentary constituencies rather than local authorities. 

Frome sits within the Mendip district but is part of the Somerton and Frome constituency (represented by David Warburton MP) – which also includes several towns in the neighbouring South Somerset district. 

The council said it was working with South Somerset District Council on a bid for various projects, “including the Western Warehouse in Frome”. 

Council leader Ros Wyke elaborated on the proposals at a meeting of the council’s scrutiny board in Shepton Mallet on 17th August. 

She said, “We’ve been talking with Frome Town Council, because they have an interest there [the western warehouse], and we’re in a position to make bids for the levelling up fund. 

“As a tier one authority (i.e. the most in need in government terms), we are discussing with a number of people what we will put into the bids – first of all for the Wells constituency, and then for Somerton and Frome. 

“We are talking at great length with a number of people in Frome to make sure we have more than our fair share of monies, and that will be directed towards Frome and its needs – including the Western Warehouse as an option. 

“It hasn’t been forgotten, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes.” 

Ros Wyke said the timetable for a bid was “vague”, but she was expecting guidance from the government by the end of the year. 

The council said grant funding was being secured for a feasibility study on the Western Warehouse proposals before a levelling up bid was submitted, which could increase its chances of success. 

A spokesperson said, “The Western Warehouse is an important element of the non-residential content of the Saxonvale project, all of which will be planned and occupied to maximise the placemaking potential that the scheme offers. 

“The range of commercial and community uses that might be appropriate is being explored by the Acorn Property Group, as they work on the detailed stages of the planning application, with a view to adding further vitality to the scheme. 

“Acorn, with our support, has invited Frome Town Council to put forward a proposal for a possible community and cultural offer for the Western Warehouse. 

“The town council has applied for grant funding which is, in part, to undertake a feasibility study for options on future use. This will be part of a larger mixed-use regeneration of the site which already benefits from outline planning consent and public ownership. 

“In terms of any levelling up bids, we await government guidance expected later in the year, and are working collaboratively across the parliamentary constituencies to develop proposals as more information becomes available.” 

One Response to Government funding bid for Saxonvale community centre?

  1. Andrew S

    September 3, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    Shame they do not have the “will” for bringing public services back to a town nearing 30,000 rather than the Shepton mallet village of 7,500 rather than this “vanity project”

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