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Saxonvale housing plan refused

SAXONVALE’S future took another step into the unknown recently when a plan to build 60 homes on the land was refused by Mendip District Council.

The decision comes shortly after Frome Town  Council criticised the district authority for stalling progress at the site, which has now been derelict for over 20 years.

Bristol-based property developers Terramond submitted the application in June last year, before amending it in November. The plan proposed the building of up to 60 residential dwellings, modified access, and landscaping of the surrounding area.

Mendip District Council refused the application on the grounds that it was not in keeping with the planning brief for the Saxonvale area or with the Mendip District Local Plan.

Frome Town Council advised rejection of the plan in December last year, when they said, “Frome Town Council are unable to support this application in outline as it is not possible to fully assess the impact of the development in conjunction with the adjoining applications within the Saxonvale site.

“We are in principle in favour of housing on this site and would wish the developers to negotiate with Mendip regarding the size of affordable housing to ensure the right type of housing is provided (there is a particular need for 4 bedroom houses).”

The town council has since spoken out about their wish to take control of the site away from Mendip and keep decisions within the town.

Council leader Mel Usher said, “It’s time for Frome to take the lead and drive forward a scheme that Frome needs. Our project will work towards establishing a Neighbourhood Development Order for the site and would mean that we in Frome can decide what we want and search out developers who can deliver that for us.

“There’s a long way to go but it’s an important moment of decision for Frome as a town; whether to try and do the right thing or, as some advocate, do nothing and just let market forces decide. I know which one I prefer.”

Mendip District Council’s refusal decision stated, “It has not been demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority, that the development of up to 60 dwellings with the access arrangements as proposed, can be achieved on this part of the wider Saxonvale site whilst also providing an acceptable design, maintaining the character, appearance and setting of heritage assets and providing adequate permeability through the site to the wider area.

“To allow development of the site, for solely residential use, without a comprehensive scheme for the wider site, would risk non-provision of the required office/studio space.”

There were also concerns about the lack of consideration for protected species.

The report continued, “It has not been demonstrated that the development of up to 60 dwellings as proposed, can be achieved while also providing adequate provision for protected species, specifically bats.”

The decision also raised concerns about problems arising from the homes’ close proximity to Lidl.