Thursday, 25 November 2010

Full meeting details

Saxonvale – Let The People Speak!

After decades of painstaking work the plan to re-develop the semi-derelict Saxonvale area of Frome, agreed between Mendip District Council and the development company, Terramond, fell through recently. A national development company, St James Investments, has stepped in.

S.J.I. has strong links with Tesco and it is feared that they may be interested in constructing a ‘Tesco Extra’ hypermarket on the Saxon Vale site. Accompanying a store of this size would be a car park roughly twice the size of the current Market Yard car park. This is the size of store and car park that many hold responsible for the ‘ghost town’ feeling in Shepton Mallet’s High Street.

Many Frome residents are concerned by the prospect of an enormous supermarket at Saxonvale and the threat that their town could become as dead as Shepton. Many people and businesses have moved to Frome precisely because it is not like other towns. One friend of a Frome resident who had been planning to move here is so alarmed by the prospect of a hypermarket arriving in the town centre that he is now revising his plans.

To air the issues around the possible arrival of a massive Tesco store in Frome a public meeting is to be held at The Cheese & Grain on Wednesday 1st December at 7.30pm. All are welcome to attend, whatever their views may be.

There will be a number of speakers at this meeting, including the eminent journalists Elisabeth Winkler and John Harris who have followed the rise of supermarkets in general and Tesco in particular for several years.

Elisabeth Winkler lived in Frome for ten years in the 1980’s. She was editor of the Soil Association Magazine for eight years and her ‘Real Food Lover’ blog was short-listed for a Guild of Food Writer’s award.   A passionate supporter of independent shops, she has been involved in the ‘No Tesco in Stoke’s Croft’ campaign in Bristol, where she now lives.

John Harris is a Guardian columnist, contributor to BBC arts review programmes and a Frome resident who has written extensively about the future of British towns, cities and villages. He also takes a close interest in what he refers to as, “the mess of issues surrounding supermarkets”. He has recently made a film about Frome for the Guardian website.

Graham Burgess, local architect and active member of Frome Civic Society, will explain the history of the Saxonvale redevelopment plans, but at the time of going to press the developers, St James Investments, have not responded to an invitation to speak at this meeting. Mendip District Council planning officers have also been invited, so their should be a wealth of knowledge available regarding the future of this site.  Audience members will be able to ask questions and to express their opinions.

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