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Frome firm Butler, Tanner & Dennis “under closure threat”

FROME-based print company, Butler, Tanner and Dennis, could be under threat of closure if a planning application to convert the site into housing is granted by Mendip District Council.

A row has broken out between Butler, Tanner and Dennis and the owners of  their Caxton Road base, London and County Property Developers, over the lease of the land.

London and County claim an agreement over the lease has not been reached and have now submitted plans to Mendip District Council to build houses and offices over the current Butler, Tanner and Dennis site.

Managing Director of Butler, Tanner and Dennis, Kevin Sarney said, “We are working hard to reach an agreement on the lease. Our intention is to remain on our current site.”

Staff at the company have also signed a petition that was handed to Mendip District Council’s planning office last week, opposing the plans to build over their site. 73 employees signed the petition which was organised by print union, Unite.

John Peverley, chairman of Frome and District Civic Society, fears that if the planning permission is granted, then it will mean the closure of Butler, Tanner and Dennis with the loss of 120 jobs.

“If this application is approved by Mendip District Council, it will mean the closure of the last of the major industries of Frome,” he said. “London and County’s proposal is for 90% of the land to be developed for 150 homes, with the remaining 10% used for offices and light industry.

“This is the biggest planning application to affect Frome since Terramond’s proposals to develop Saxonvale, but at Saxonvale there was a development brief, agreed after lengthy public consultation, and adopted by Mendip District Council, setting out how best to develop the area for the benefit of the town.”

He added that London and County should have consulted wider about their plans to redevelop the site, as well as submitted a development brief for public consultation.

John Peverley said it is not too late for Mendip District Council to ask for the application to be withdrawn and rethought.

“Frome Town Council has organised a special meeting at the Merlin Theatre on Wednesday 10th of April at 6.00pm to discuss this application,” he said. “If you are interested in what happens to the BTD site, you should go to the meeting.”

Legally, Butler, Tanner and Dennis can only remain on the site until their lease expires at the end of September.

Simon Blair of London and County said, “We have a complete and detailed record of all of the meetings and letters over the last three years pressing Butler, Tanner and Dennis to reach an agreement. We even met with Felix Dennis last year to try and move things forward, but to no avail.

“Clearly circumstances have changed and we have presented the company with a number of options – including them moving into reduced premises or purchasing the land they need on the site. We have not closed the door on Butler, Tanner and Dennis, but we must have a detailed and commercially viable proposal from them in the very near future.”