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Southfield Farm housing refused

PLANSto build a housing estate on the Southfield Farm site behind Asda were thrown out last month by Mendip District Council.

The plans, submitted by Persimmon Homes in  May this year, were criticised for their lack of a development brief and lack of management plan, both of which are key requirements for any new housing development.

Mendip’s refusal was welcomed by local people, after residents and Frome Town Council had campaigned against the application.

Town councillor Pippa Goldfinger said, “Frome Town Council welcomes Mendip’s refusal. We have seen a lack of information, together with poor quality of design and layout within this proposal. For such a large and exceptionally beautiful site we expect a good quality application, anything less is a wasted opportunity.

“We fully recognise the need for more housing in Frome, but poorly designed housing is not only a blight on the landscape but can lead to many problems; social, environmental and economic.

“We understand that this is just the start of a long process and have invited the developers to meet with us in order to encourage a better design which fulfils all the requirements laid out in the granting of the outline permission that responds to the wonderful setting and integrates with the infrastructure of our great town.”

The County Highways team were critical on a number of elements of the application, including the fact that no provision was made for quality pedestrian and cycle routes, or a footbridge over the river linking the new homes with the town.

Amongst other concerns, Frome’s planning advisory group pointed out the lack of soft landscaping and how the frontages of the proposed properties consisted almost entirely of parking.

On behalf of the local residents Nicola Tanner said, “This experience has highlighted a number of key issues which are important, not only to us as the ‘nearest neighbours’, but also to the wider community.

“It’s good news that Mendip District Council has refused Persimmon’s planning application, and we appreciate the support we’ve received from Frome Town Council and our MP David Warburton in highlighting our concerns.

“We don’t oppose new housing, but we do want a quality development that residents can enjoy living in and Frome can be proud of.”

With the refusal of the Persimmon application, the town council hopes to influence any future proposals, work with the developers and help develop a scheme that is acceptable to the community and that will secure consent.

The town council says, “Southfield Farm is one of the key development sites in Frome. The site borders the river and careful consideration needs to be given to reflect the value and use of this amenity.

“It is essential that any development proposals for this site are of good quality design and that adequate provision is made within the site for pedestrian and cycle routes linking the site to the town centre, along the River Frome.

“Frome Town Council recognises the requirement for new housing and has an obligation to support its provision.  However the town council is resolute that new housing must be of a design and standard which helps build Frome as a well-functioning town and provides homes of which we can be proud.”