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Disappointment on the Mayday Saxonvale application recommendation

Mendip District Council will be considering the Mayday Saxonvale proposals at the Planning Board meeting on 17th August. The application is for a mixed-use regeneration proposal including up to 182 dwellings, a hotel, commercial and community provision, Education Floorspace, an outdoor lido, public open space/parkland and associated infrastructure, at Saxonvale. The officer recommendation to the Planning Board is that the application should be refused on four grounds for refusal. 

In response to the paper Councillor Steve Tanner, Chair of Frome Town Council’s Planning Committee, who have approved the application in their deliberations, has called for a rethink and asks the Planning Board to not accept the recommendation on all four counts.  He said:  “We are hugely disappointed in this recommendation.  Over 1,300 residents of Frome sent letters of support for the Mayday Saxonvale application, in itself unprecedented, and it is clear that this is a proposal the town wants and that can be delivered. We consider that this is a development that is community driven and puts the needs of the town first and would urge the Planning Board to overturn the officer recommendation and approve the application.

We need employment space as well as housing and this is the last area in the town centre that could provide a vibrant and thriving extension of the town centre and it is the best destination for an increased working population to build their businesses and reinforce the existing retail and hospitality economy.

One of the proposed reasons for refusal is that the development will not provide the minimum requirement of 250 units as part of a mixed-use development for the site and would not make adequate provision for affordable housing.  Mayday are proposing 182 units and whilst the town council is fully aware of the need for housing, we believe in this case the reduced amount of housing being provided is fully justified by prioritising commercial and community use in this last town centre location. We can not continue to build new houses without providing employment opportunities at the same time.

The target for new houses for Frome in Mendip District Council’s local plan, up until 2029 is 2,880.  To date approx. 2900 houses have been given consent so with Frome having already met the target, it would seem reasonable to allow fewer houses on Saxonvale, especially when this is the last opportunity to provide space for retail businesses, hospitality and leisure activities in the town centre, where they should be.

The most crucial need in Frome is for affordable housing.  The Mayday application for 182 houses is proposing 40% affordable housing. The application by Acorn Developments which has already been approved subject to the legal agreements being signed, was for 300 houses, with 24% affordable housing. Both applications would provide 72 units of affordable accommodation, so it is not reasonable to say the Mayday application does not provide adequate provision.

Another proposed reason for refusal is that insufficient information has been provided to demonstrate that the outline application includes adequate mitigation measures to protect the wildlife on site. This is because the landowners, Mendip District Council would not give Mayday access to the site to do the required surveys and enable them to put mitigation measures in place, so to use this as a reason for refusal, seems very unfair.

There is so much to be positive about the Mayday Saxonvale application and we particularly applaud the effort that has gone into this and the ‘no profit’ aims for the development. It’s refreshing and rewarding to see a scheme that prioritises low density and affordable housing, workspaces for small to medium businesses, community areas and facilities, green spaces, the inclusion of an education space and the social housing/tiny homes.”

Frome Town Council will be attending the Planning Board meeting on Wednesday 17th August and will urge members to not accept the officer recommendation by approving the application.

15 August 2022
Last Updated
16 August 2022
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