Last night, Frome Town Council decided to adopt a more pro-active, campaigning approach to support the right in the town. Council agreed to establish a new Planning Advisory Panel to replace the confusing Planning Sub Committee. The panel will provide advice on what building proposals should be publicly supported and those that should be objected to. The aim is to help the community make meaningful comments and suggestions to the planning authority Mendip.
The most significant proposed development in the town at the moment is the Frontier Estates’ plan to build a large supermarket and other smaller shops on part of the Saxonvale site. FTC has recommended refusal. It is due to be considered by Mendip Planning Board soon. Cllrs and members of the community discussed the pros and cons of the development and agreed it was important to promote a suitable alternative rather than just saying “no”.
Peter Wheelhouse, the Town’s Economic Development and Regeneration Manager explained that FTC is taking the lead in bringing together the Saxonvale landowners who are closest to town centre and, by utilising a new planning policy called a Neighbourhood Development Order which will give the community planning permission to secure to the right development, the town will be able to find the right people to build the type of shops and commercial premises that Frome needs.
Cllr Usher said in the meeting, “We have a responsibility to get the development that Frome needs. We must try to bring together the land owners, utilise the powers the Government has given us and go out and find the developers who understand the needs of Frome. First though we need planning authority to make a decision on the long-standing Frontier application and the Council has recommended that this should be a refusal.”
Cllrs also agreed a plan of action for the Dippy open space at Keyford. Last year, FTC acquired the poorly maintained site from Mendip District Council and Chris Stringer, the Environment Manager, thanked the Mount Community Association and the Dippy Green Spaces Group for the immense amount of work over recent months in clearing paths and cutting back brambles and keeping on top of the litter. The plan for the future is to improve many of the paths through the Dippy, keep them open and safe and manage the green areas to maximise wildlife value.
Lastly, Council agreed to dispense with committees and, instead, have one Council meeting a month for all Cllrs. To ensure maximum engagement and to harness the undoubted expertise in the town, panels on leisure and sports provision, well-being including inequality, the town centre, devising a strategy for the town for the next 4 years and keeping Frome clean will be formed. These informal gatherings will enable more discussion and a collective approach to tackling problems. The Town Council will be advertising their remit in the next few weeks and would hope to tap into the enthusiasm, expertise and willingness in the town to “get involved”.The agenda and reports for last night’s meeting are here and the draft minutes will be posted in the next few days.