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OBJECTIVES:

  • Take Mendip District Council to court
  • Stop the Acorn application
  • Appoint developers in a fair, open and transparent manner
  • Opportunities for Frome’s vibrant community, arts and business sectors
  • Much more commercial provision for the town centre

MAYDAY SAXONVALE Q&A

You may have heard of Saxonvale. It’s the derelict site in the centre of town that runs along the river between Marks and Spencers’ car park and Lidl. It’s the last undeveloped space in Frome’s wonderful town centre and represents a huge opportunity if we get it right.

There have been lots of different plans (by various developers/local groups/councils) to renovate it over the last twenty years, although none has come to fruition.

With a Frome-focused plan for the site, it could completely change the town centre and the opportunities Frome can offer to residents and businesses.

What you may NOT know is that there has recently been a significant change affecting the site’s future. And it’s not a positive one. We’ve put together some simple questions and answers explaining what’s going on.

Who now owns the site and what are they planning to do with it?
Mendip District Council bought Saxonvale in 2018 under a non-disclosure agreement and made a secret agreement with residential developers Acorn and Nash Architects to develop the site that was only announced several months later.

What will they build there?
Acorn’s scheme is designed for one purpose only – to return a maximal profit to Acorn & the District Council. They will do this by cramming the site with flats and houses. Every house and apartment sold delivers an additional profit to the District Council.

What’s wrong with that? Isn’t there a housing crisis?
We need to remember that this site, given its location, could and should offer a genuine extension of the town centre with new places for people to work – close to where they live.

Saxonvale is the traditional employment and commercial site of the town and is right next door to the town centre. Acorn’s planning application is highly restrictive of new business and commercial opportunities. There there are lots of exciting options for the site which haven’t been properly explored because of the way the application is being fast-tracked.

We want to see a sustainable development with green infrastructure at its heart and a plan delivering the requirements and aspirations of Frome’s community, cultural and arts organisations.

Frome has built a national reputation as a fertile ground for independent businesses and traders, local entrepreneurs, arts organisations and political innovation. The community in Frome is strong, practical and active. We don’t believe that Mendip District Council and Acorn are seeking to nurture this reputation or the positive outcomes it has for local people.

So what can we do about all this? Have the District Council done anything wrong legally?
Our evidence, which has been reviewed by expert lawyers, suggests that they have. Under procurement legislation, public authorities are required to have a fair, open & transparent tendering process before any contracts are agreed to deliver works with private companies but Acorn were appointed without a tendering process anywhere to be seen and genuine commercial developers have been turned away. If the District Council have in fact, acted against the public interest of Frome in this way, then it constitutes a very serious offence. Town and District Councillors have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements before they can be briefed about Saxonvale.

Mayday Saxonvale
The masterplan for the site has been weakened so we need your help to raise funding and take the District Council to court. It is the only way to prevent this underhand development being imposed upon Frome.

If you can help us with a donation, please head over to the Crowd Justice page here. Your donation will only be taken from your account if we reach complete funding – so you can guarantee that your money will be put to good use.

If you can’t afford to help us financially, please spread the word! Tell everybody that Saxonvale needs our attention. We need to mobilise as a community to stop these plans before it’s too late. If we work together, we can still change things and hold on to this amazing opportunity for Frome’s future.