Saturday, 4 December 2010

What's the alternative? An open thread

Wednesday's meeting has led to a big discussion around town that tends to come back to one question: if the centre of Frome isn't to be remodelled around the retail development St James's Investments have in mind, what's the alternative - particularly when it comes to the Saxonvale site? In the past few days, we've heard talk about new green industries, sustainable visitor attractions... you name it.

Time, then, for an open thread. All thoughts, suggestions - however vague or tentative - gratefully accepted. In time, any alternative will have to be worked into something detailed and convincing. So this is only intended as a conversation-starter, but it's a good idea to get it moving.


  1. One of the other themes that came up on Wednesday was “why do we need to develop Saxonvale at all”. Is the fact that it’s there, enough of a reason to change it into something else? Isn’t the question: “Is there something worth doing on that site that will genuinely meet the needs of the people of Frome over the next few decades”.
    I realise that the cynics/realists will say that we have been here before, that the Planning Brief sets out a mix of shops, houses, business etc that is what we need – now let’s argue the toss over the balance, and build it. But that was then (in the last century) and this is now. When the brief was put together it wasn’t it pre recession, climate change and peak oil...... pre the Festival being well established, pre local Sustainability Act and the Big Society.... pre loads of new houses and a situation where we have 50+ children without primary school places in Frome......
    So my real question is: “Are we stuck with the Planning Brief? Is all the energy, ideas, involvement, excitement and new alternatives coming out of Wednesday’s meeting destined to fizzle out in the planning system?” And if the answer is “yes” then the target should be the planning system and not Tesco. And if we have energy to fight, isn’t it around our right to determine what we want, rather than years and years to get s slightly smaller superstore?

  2. I might just be revealing my own ignorance here, but I'm wondering whether there isn't a pretty substantial need for some education (of folks like me) before we go much further. For example I don't know anything about:

    1. What the Planning Brief is and when it was produced/written/agreed
    2. 50+ kids without school places (and future plans for housing, schools etc.)
    3. The scale of the investment we're talking about - £10m to buy the site? What's the cost of development etc. etc?
    4. The planning process
    5. Who decides what, when and how
    6. etc x 100

    I, like many others, am bursting with ideas, and am not short of energy to put into this. But we need a solid foundation of understanding so that people like me can contribute, rather than distract by well-meaning, but essentially pointless ideas. It seems to me that our next meeting - or maybe a pre-meeting - might attempt to explain some of these things. I reckon we're involved a 4 stage process:

    1. Vent our feelings (Done, on Dec 1st)
    2. Educate to form a solid understanding (next step)
    3. Come up with ideas
    4. Plan/execute (the easy bit)

    Patrick (D)

  3. Oh yes - and just one more thing: people like me are very used to contributing ideas online; I/we love it and it comes naturally. The main benefit is that nothing gets lost. BUT most normal people who don't have their heads up against a screen all day don't like contributing ideas online. So how do we capture peoples' thoughts/ideas? In this kind of situation, one little gem of wisdom or insight can transform the situation. How do we make sure we capture that insight...that little gem? Who is our guardian of ideas?

  4. As Peter mentioned, the planning brief was derived on a outdated model of consumerism being the drive for developing the site. It is now obvious that this is obsolete, and a new model/plan based on sustainable development principles is needed. This can still include retail, but the principle needs to change. What about a community run supermarket, where the residents/retailers of Frome are the owners. A Fro-Op so to speak! Its not so daft, look at St. Pauli ( the Hamburg community owned football team), FC Of United …. I know they are footy teams, but they show that community grass roots groups can succeed!
    A new low carbon St Johns School so that a new access to the site can be developed. A urban well designed business hub for small new creative / green businesses to create wealth within our community instead of bland retail units where the wealth is just sucked out to anodyne overseas shareholders.
    I for one am happy to facilitate a new community plan as a architect, and would love the idea of an alternative scheme that shows SJI how dull and uncreative their ideas are.
    What we need is creative thinking. These are just ideas, lets get some more.

  5. Caroline Walsh-Waring6 December 2010 at 09:32

    I don't agree that all feelings have been vented. Whilst the meeting was very well organised last week because of the amount of people there it was impossible to let everyone have their say. Luckily I was able to make just one of my points but there were many others who wanted to speak but couldn't. This is where a forum such as this comes in, but as has been said we don't all spend our days with our noses pressed up against screen so another way to collect opinions needs to be found for those with lives! (I include myself in the screen nosers by the way).

    Anyway - I have further worries about the possible development such as subsidence to the great many historic buildings situated immediately above the site. Surely there will be a huge cost involved in preventing this?
    A large open and empty area at night tends to attract less savory elements who leave rubbish and broken glass around, not much fun for both the existing occupants of the areas and all those people supposedly looking to buy new homes there.
    Damage to the surrounding area both to the air and the ground caused by the increase in traffic.
    Unsightly neon signs for any major development, new signage in a town like Frome should be monitored and kept within the character of the town.
    New ideas - listening to people there definately seems to be a requirement for some kind of food provider, I liked the idea suggested of a "Whiterow" equivalent, why not a collection of smaller units fullfilling the food needs but not clashing with existing providers in the town.
    Parking and any development must be sympathetically landscaped.
    Should a major grocery retailer take the site their activities must be curtailed i.e. no more cut-price clothing, electrical goods, DVDs etc, hardware, all of which we already have in abundance. And no chance of them sneaking these things in later.
    Why not convert the large ex-Notts Industries building which has a certain Victorian industrial charm like a warehouse development, don't throw the bath water out with the baby.
    Whilst walking in the area I noticed a lot of wildlife and existing trees, what happens to them. Could this perhaps be a second park for the town, perhaps even an adventure park? Adding value and facilites for the town.

    The existing "plan" obviously needs serious rethinking but quickly.

  6. we were wondering who actually owns the land at Saxonvale and if St James owns part or all of it or any of it. Could we possibly buy the land ourselves mainly to stop anyone building on it and have it as some sort of community trust?

    We have also had lots of thoughts about what could be there instead of bog standard retail outlets and of course the supermarket nobody needs. Here are a few,

    : reinstate Selwood forest, inc orchard.
    : Urban Farm, including apiery - visitor attraction
    : Artisan bakery.
    : bicycle makers.
    : repertory cinema.
    : an alterative to frome college.


  7. I wrote here a response which was removed, can you let me know what happened to it please?

    Katy Duke

  8. ... cont ...
    It also states that "Proposals should:
    • in general avoid development blocks which are larger than 70m or smaller than 40m in either dimension unless local influences dictate otherwise
    • ensure all streets are faced by the fronts of buildings and all backs of properties are contained within the inside of the block
    • avoid ground level blank walls or edges (i.e. those without front doors or windows which are likely to be actively used) on frontages (as shown on the Strategic Plan)

    Open space and the wider public realm is required to be of a high quality and have high amenity value. It is to be defined by the fronts of buildings, well overlooked, well connected and accessible at all times. The involvement of the community in detailed design is encouraged."

    Regarding education; "Contributions will be sought to meet the need for educational infrastructure arising from the extra housing..... Developers are encouraged to provide premises suitable for child daycare and nursery education within the development"

    Some of the Sustainability issues covered include:

    "All practical measures should be used to reduce energy use both during construction and occupation of all the buildings on the site..... to reduce water use both during construction and occupation of all the buildings on the site,.... to reduce the use of mineral and other resources during construction and occupation of all the buildings on the site.
    Buildings should be designed to minimise heat loss on the shaded elevation, with small windows and less occupied rooms on this side.
    Developers should consider the market advantage and viability of including renewable energy technologies in a proportion of buildings on the site" (OK, so it doesn't go anywhere near far enough! ... but we do have enhanced building regulations since then)
    ... cont ...

  9. I know it was a long post (sorry) but is there a reason why the first third of my comment is gone? It was here a moment ago. It doesn't make sense without it....

  10. oops, last chunk gone too! better than Guardian censorship!

  11. can you confirm if I can repost my comments or will they be removed again? Is this an automatic removal because I didn't comply with something? My current post is meaningless without the pre- & post- comments....

  12. OK, whatever happened, here is the detail of what is in the development brief & why you should read it (you really should read it)

  13. Thanks for the detail Katy - very useful for my education! So, if we're aiming to stop Tesco (or similar) do we:

    1. Attempt to change the development brief, as Peter suggests.
    2. Accept the brief and think of better ideas than Tesco.

    The focus of our energy and ideas is very different depending on option 1 or 2 above. The obstacles we jump in each case are very different.

    Hello folks who are running this site: could you put the dev brief up on the site somewhere prominent pls. Thanks!!

  14. Patrick,
    I think a mix of options 1 and 2 is needed. A new brief that has better ideas than SJI ( we need to remember that it is SJI we are “engaging” with).

    The development brief is flawed, so let’s form our OWN brief or engage with the civic society so that we can convince them that the brief is not fit for purpose now. By OUR OWN, I mean that it is that does involve ALL elements of Frome society, not just the Gruniad reader element, otherwise we will alienate a critically important element of Frome. We need to engage now, as it will be a battle of gaining the hearts and minds of residents and remember that we are the vocal element, and just because we have big gobs, doesn’t mean we are talking for everyone.
    Perhaps a way will be the shopping basket trick of good local produce from loacal independant shops is cheaper than the supermarket?

    Finally, Katy has some good links for the development plan. Katy ?

  15. Just had an update from tescopoly.

    Panorama - supermarket special
    As some of you may be aware Panorama has been working on a one-hour supermarket special for many months. We can confirm that the programme will be broadcast on Wednesday 22nd December at 9.00pm. It will cover intensification of farming, supermarket pressure on farmers and supermarket expansion. The production team have filmed a number of campaign groups opposing new store developments including Manningtree, Seaton, Bishops Waltham and Stokes Croft.

  16. I'm not convinced that the Development Brief is very flawed - you need to read it before making that claim. That's not to say it couldn't be improved but it doesn't include a supermarket so will SJI's proposal comply? That is the critical issue.

    Download the two key documents, the Development Brief & the Design Codes & see the diagrammatic layout here -

    Read some of the descriptive paragraphs from the Development Brief & the Design Codes here -

    See the proposed layout for the site from the Design Codes document - how it fits with the existing street patterns, and a google map showing supermarket sizes here -

  17. I think there is a real issue about a vocal group which doesn't necessarily speak for the majority of Frome residents... that having been said I moved to Frome last year because of its quirkiness cultural vibrancy and independent and interesting shops which I firmly believe would be under real threat by a large supermarket and what goes with it being plonked into the middle of the town.

    We do need to find a way to engage people and also, as rooibosman implies, reassure people that cheap food can be found in Frome and not having a Tescos (or whoever) will not make life more expensive and exclusive for the large number of people who may be less than impressed by the activities at the Merlin Theatre, Cheese and Grain and other such middle class pre-occupations.

    This is a big challenge but I think it is vital to find a way to address it so that people like me (lefty/liberal/middle class and retired!) can continue to enjoy the Frome that drew us in while those who grew up here and have described the town as 'shit' and who seem (as described in Vision4Frome) 'to be increasingly disengaged from decision making and influence in the town' can also get what they need and want from their home town.

  18. I'm glad to see that some of the writers are aware that we are speaking of two very different Fromes. I led the consultation for Vision for Frome, and it was exceedingly difficult to get indigenous Fromies to participate in a consultation. That didn't stop them commenting informally and they certainly were not short of opinions! The above comment certainly applied, and I would hate to see the Saxonvale development causing a deeper rift between old and new residents.
    Frome is an attractive town - in places. Compared to other towns it offers a lot - to cultured middle class people. For some others it offers little but pubs - and a road out of town.
    It has a veneer of culture, but basically it is a working town where most residents do not earn the national average wage. And its population is ageing. When thinking about what it needs now, this has to be allowed for.
    And speaking as both a councillor and a shop-keeper, to get anything worthwhile you have to keep to what is possible and will be viable. Liking independents is fine, but we struggle to survive. Sustainability is more that being green; it is also about making a living. Of 27,000 people, who would the customers be? And who else could afford to buy this land now?
    So while I applaud you for starting this debate, I do hope everyone will be pragmatic and try for the best compromise rather than go for unrealistic and unaffordable solutions. The Saxonvale Design Brief is a good place to start.

  19. As someone who hates shopping my views might be at odds with others, but I want a mix: cheap & convienient, flash and different, local and seasonal. I also only want to park once so a small supermarket selling the mass lines supported by a vibrant town centre sounds perfect to small I guess something the size of somerfields old store.
    Anyway what we need in this town is meaningful and sustainable employment and affordable housing not more the saxonvale breif is not far from my vision???

  20. Debating the size and style of the retail units is important, but if we’re concerned about what will serve the long-term needs of everyone in Frome it’s vital to put it into the wider context of our unsustainable food system. If we end up with quirky independent grocers in the town centre and business-as-usual arable and dairy farming serving regional and national markets in the fields just outside the town, what will that tell us? I agree that there’s a need to engage wider opinion than the usual Guardian-reading/lefty/incomer etc crowd, but we won’t be doing anyone a favour in the end if we get drawn into a cheap food agenda. The average age of UK farmers is around 60, farmers are twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population, and the proportion of UK food produced domestically is dwindling – our agricultural capacity is rapidly going down the tubes. At the same time, global fuel and food commodity prices are rising – a major international food crisis is around the corner, and Britain’s comparative wealth will only bail us out for so long. Meanwhile, idealistic saps like me are trying to grow food for local use with sustainable methods and struggling to gain customers and earn a living wage. The real problem people face is the price of housing, not the price of food. This could be a real opportunity for some joined up local action, so long as we don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s simply about the Saxonvale site and the retail units there.

  21. I totally agree with Chris. A holistic view is needed and do apologise to those involved in drafting the Vision for Frome, but it was developed in a different world economy, and I still believe that we need to look at it again.
    On a different note, the last in “Bring Back the High Street” should be required viewing for everyone involved from SJI, planners, campaigners to every Frome resident, if we want to see how Frome may turn out and what we already have.

  22. I think I agree with much of what has already been said so far but in particular with Maggie D. I feel very strongly that lots of what I call 'fluffy wuffy' (sorry!)green schemes need to be more hard headed. I do feel that we need to consider all possibilities but apply a very pragmatic approach. In a past existence I worked with a disadvantaged community, not many miles from Frome, and I know how hard it is to engage with people in such communities. We need to hear their views but they won't come to public meetings so somehow we need to go to them. This is where links with community workers/housing association will need to be forged.
    I very much like the idea of St Johns school being relocated in a Saxonvale scheme, does the school? The current site must be a nightmare for all concerned because of the lack of space and volume of traffic. I too would like to see and be able to discuss the Vision for Frome, maybe during another meeting. I've lived in Frome with my family for 25 years but only now have I been able to become more involved with community matters (shame on me).

  23. Actually the last comment was not from my husband Colin but me, Janet. I just can't get this darn thingy to accept me! I may have to adopt the nom de plume Colin.

  24. No matter how many briefs are in existence, once SJI and Tesco are involved the game changes.
    Tesco is well known for driving through its plans which may be radically different from those pre-existing.
    It will retain a housing element in order to claim "regeneration" but its overwhelming intent is simple. That is the biggest supermarket possible and other clone shop multiples paying rent to sit on the site.
    It will window dress with pedestrian precincts ( a dubious blessing) or a school or some other spin but in the end it wants as much trade of Frome as it can get for its own shareholders.

    The evidence of its behaviour is overwhelming. no matter what local councils may have planned they are no match for tesco and SJI. Unless that is the locals know how to fight.

    Colin(Jane) makes a vaild comment. tesco tries to seek or even manufacture local consent. To do this it often targets, what one report calls "the uncommitted" People who bear a similarity to the people Jane (Colin) describes

  25. For the evidence to support the case I made in the previous post see:-

  26. I urge total resistance to the plan to let Tesco get anywhere near Saxonvale. I come from Portland in Dorset which has already gone through exactly what Frome is going through now. Tesco made all sorts of promises that they wouldn't harm local retailers, but once they got the go ahead to build they immediately applied to change various parts of the planning application. It would appear that this is a pretty common tactic used by them. Frome doesn't need a Supermarket so close to the town centre, it will do nothing to assist small shops, it will not bring more visitors to the toen, they will come to Tescos, do their shopping and leave.

  27. Quite right anonymous2.

    I sat in the car park of Wells Tesco. I watched the coming and going of people near me. Nearly all came back with their trolleys and drove off. Wells seems to keep its town alive through the extra business from tourists

  28. Apologies if I’ve misunderstand your point Colin/Janet, but I feel strongly on the contrary that greens need to be more hard-headed in explaining why ‘hard-headedness’ as it’s conventionally understood has led us so very badly astray. In the food sector, the hard-headed pursuit of profit has led to the economic blight of rural farm communities, an epidemic of obesity and other chronic diseases that disproportionately affect the poor, a catastrophic loss of wildlife and biodiversity in the countryside, a dangerous over-reliance upon food imports, fossil fuel and other non-renewable farm inputs, shameful levels of greenhouse gas emissions, and monstrosities such as chickens whose legs can’t hold them up, amongst many other things. That’s why we need to put the supermarket plans into broader perspective, since the supermarkets themselves are only the endpoint in a wholly dysfunctional food system. If we as a community buy into a cheap local food and jobs agenda in the misguided belief that this will benefit disadvantaged people locally then we will be doing our town a disservice, above all to its less well off residents.

  29. The food industry as a whole is beyond the scope of this planning issue. There is alreaady in the town scope for a locally sopurced ethical farm shop. The size and location of supermarkets is a question that locals should concern for.

  30. If a 40,000 sq ft store were to be built on the site (and I personally think we should be lobbying for a maximum size of 20,000 sq ft, or about twice the size of the old Safeway) then it would still represent less than 10% of the size of the overall development site (about 420,000 sq.ft).

    We need to talk also about the other potential uses on the site (inc. many more houses, many of them 'affordable') and particularly about the traffic impact of development (on Christchurch Street), and what life might be like in this town in 2035 (bearing in mind food production/security & peak oil).

    I would be very concerned about the impact on the other side of town if 500 free car spaces were allowed - it would kill off the Westway, Black Swan, C&G, etc. unless the other car park was also free.

  31. Wow what a lot of debate. I'd just like to add a couple of thoughts. To those who are vested in the design brief. It was good of its time and I am well aware of the massive effort by many individuals to get it to be as good/ok as it is, in the face of considerable odds. however, time has moved on and some of the other points raised above e.g. about the fragility of our food system have become more obvious. reading an oil analyst's report the other day I was suprised to see such a source reporting that within 5 years we would see food riots and the return to local food production systems as a result of another oil crisis. the world is changing and perhaps we need to be prepared to let go of the design brief and invent anew? second, we have to be realistic. there is big money involved. whatever we come up with needs to generate income. it would be nice to think we could turn the area over to growing veg, but I doubt this alone will enable us to deal with the landowners who operate in the current economic system. finally, the point that Wells attracts visitors is well made. what could we imagine in Saxonvale that would not only aid Frome to be more independent / sustainable but also attract income into the town (rather than extract it to distant shareholders?). I'm sure we have the imagination in the town to come up with such a scheme. Frome's Eden project? Such an initiative would provide employment opportunities - and better employment than a supermarket - for those referred to an the indigenous 'Fromies' in the town, should they want them.

  32. It’s true of course that the food industry as a whole is beyond the scope of this planning issue. The problem is that it’s beyond the scope of every local planning issue, and all those small local decisions end up reinforcing a system that is fundamentally unsustainable and threatening to local jobs and integrity. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t have a town centre supermarket. But I am suggesting that we need to understand the role of supermarkets in the wider food system, and to do what we can as individuals and communities to ease the transition into the food system of the future. I’m also suggesting we should stop assuming that supermarkets are good for disadvantaged people. So yes, let’s have a debate about size, location, traffic, affordable housing, local farm shops and so on. And let’s link what we want to happen in the centre of Frome with what we want to happen in the farmland around it.

  33. Aiee - so much opinion (all very valid, and really, really useful). But what's our next action?

    You can bet SJI (have you subscribed to this site yet Quentin??) and Tesco are beavering away on this project even as we speak, with project plans and project managers, business cases and strategies...

    Just personally, I'm kind of beyond the opinion-expressing stage. What can I actually DO?

  34. Me too! I am eager to develop a alternative plan that takes into account a lot of the discussions above. Is it worthwhile meeting up before Christmas?

  35. Over on the Living Streets web site they are promoting Early Day Motion (EDM 1009) the Protection of Local Services (Planning) Bill Might be some more useful stuff on the web site relevant to the campaign?

  36. I have just had a comment accepted but it has disappeared Webmaster are you there?

  37. yes - try reposting once more. if nothing, email the post to sorry about that.

  38. I think Tesco or its friends will monitor any ideas in the public domain and incorporate bits of them into their plan. They will do this to pre-empt objections to their application. I have some ideas but currently would not put them here.
    Someone asked "what should I do?" I am currently looking at news items and sites such as Tescopoly to see where others have succeeded and also I am trying to think of other new strategies.
    It would be a good idea to also follow the suggestion of westfield wanderer an sign up to a petition to the local mp to support the early day motion mentioned on the Living Streets website. The local mp seems too fatalistic

  39. I think one thing needs saying, in the light of some of these posts, and the coverage in this week's Somerset standard. Portraying opposition to a supermarket as essentially "middle class" is an obvious move, and there's no doubt any campaign has to register with all the people of the town. But a key part of my scepticism/opposition to big retail is the fact that it's built around low-paid, part-time, non-unionised work, and that it effectively sucks money out of local communities. That doesn't sound like a "middle class" issue to me.

  40. Talk of class just obscures the issue. All classes suffer if a town becomes a husk. We already have cheap food from ASDA and Sainsbury and the other in Town supermarkets. What is lost is community bonds. Diversity of activity and social cohesion. This is valued especially by the p[eople who live alone or who are old or who are marooned on a large housing estate. wandering around the aisles of a supermarket just won't replace the streets and inimate atmosphere of small town.

  41. I love Tesco. We need more supermarkets, I don't know what the fuss is from all you rural curtain twitchers. Whatever next, neighbourhood watch?

    If not a Tesco can we have a Xscape Ski Slope or a McDonalds/KFC/Pizza Hut joint restaurant that sells donuts?

    Hell Yeah!

  42. John (whoever you are) - I though this was an OPEN discussion, so why are you deleting relevant comments? I have had three gone now, can you explain please? ... I am not anon. It important for people to have access to the policy documents that will be used in judgement.

  43. I am not deleting anything, Katy. I agree with what you say. Try posting again... if they disappear, email at

  44. I was formally posting as anonymous but have adopted a name because there are more than one anonymouses - confusing

    Woodies runs a very successful operation out at Woolverton sourcing food locally. It could be one of the larger shops/restaurant on the new site

  45. formally = formerly oops

  46. findings from the Friends of the earth survey

    Key findings from the case studies and survey include:
    • Submissions made with supermarket planning applications are often inconsistent or substandard and in some cases inaccurate and misleading.
    • The mismatch between the resources available to supermarkets and local planning authorities gives supermarkets an advantage in the planning system and can make it harder for local authorities to challenge inaccurate submissions.
    • Big chains’ ability to offer ‘sweetners’ to local authorities gives them an advantage over other operators.
    • Supermarkets ability to fund major developments alongside their store has overcome valid planning objections.
    • The fear that supermarkets may appeal refusals and claim costs if they win is an added pressure on local authorities and may influence their decision making.
    • Supermarkets are using legal clauses in land deals which restrict local authorities’ options for alternative retail development.

  47. and

    • Supermarkets use staged applications to ease their way through the planning process.
    • Local development plans which should be drawn up with the local community have been altered to accommodate a supermarket development due to lobbying by the retailer.
    • Supermarkets present local communities with misleading images and claims to sway opinion in favour of their development.
    • Supermarkets disregard conditions attached to planning permissions even where these are aimed at protecting town centres
    • The majority of local planning officers in our survey said that proposals to remove the need test would make it harder to protect and promote town centres
    • Planning officers also warn that removal of the needs test would make it harder to promote sustainable forms of development and may lead to increased reliance on car based shopping

  48. *sigh*
    I just want to make sure everyone has the best possible information about the process & the documents available to fight inappropriate development. Far from being flawed, the brief gives us a fantastic base from which to fight - it focusses on good design, pedestrian priority, built form appropriate for Frome & sensible street patterns. It doesn't support or propose a big foodstore.

    KEY INFORMATION about the Saxonvale site in Frome

    1. Background to the Development Brief & the Design Codes & see the diagrammatic layout

    2. Read some of the descriptive paragraphs from the Development Brief & the Design Codes

    3. See the proposed layout for the site in the Design Codes document and a google map showing supermarket sizes

    4. Download the two key documents, the Development Brief & the Design Codes

    5. Illustrative layout from the District Council's Design Codes document for the Saxonvale area overlaid on the satellite map from googlemaps

    6. Googlemap of Saxonvale area - - shows a large store in blue at 40,000 sq.ft (the size proposed by the new developer SJI), a smaller store in red at 20,000 sq.ft. (perhaps this would be OK for the town?) NB. Old Safeway is 12,000 sq.ft & Asda is 65,500 sq.ft


    Frome base data - shows that shops have a total floor area of 30,000 sq.m = 320,000 sq.ft (of which 3,000 sq.m / 32,000 sq.ft were foodstores [Somerfield & Safeway]) - therefore an extra 40,000 sq.ft (3,700 sq.m) is about 12.5% more floorspace, 80,000 sq.ft (inc. other mixed uses) is 25% more floorspace.

    Katy (ex Regen Officer)

  49. I think regeneration centre around retail consumerism particularly of large national retailers is a hangover from the late nineties and early 2000s. When credit was cheap and borrowing easy the economy relied too heavily on internal consumerism. No one paused to evaluate the effect of such large conumer multiples.
    Ofcourse an economy can't last on that basis. What both Frome and UK need manufacturing and service industries which can bring capital and profits in from outside. Publishing, IT, specialist technical work, downstream processing and jobs that pay above the low wages of supermarkets.

    It is worth looking at the employment profile of Somerset and asking what can be brought to Saxonvale that would bring prosperity. More national retail which pays low wages and exports profits whilst damaging current retail does not seem the answer.

    the Somerset employment profile can be found at

  50. Thanks, Katy, and sorry about the tech screw ups. If it's ok with you, we'll put up these links as a blog entry on the front page.

  51. That would be great, thanks!

  52. Message for Katy: I'm going through the design brief, in search of specific references to a large food store. On page 23, it says "It is considered that demand for a large food store use on the site is unlikely due to the proposed ASDA development at Wallbridge", but I'm still looking for something more pointed. I've been told there was some kind of understanding that any food store should not exceed 15,000 sq feet. can you help?

  53. To view an Open Letter to David Heath and Frome Town Council demanding a 'Declaration for Frome in the 21st Century, please visit the following link:

    Please support the Cheese & Grain Trustees and the chance of a beautiful and sustainable development at Saxonvale by writing to your local councillors. Their contact details can be found on the following web page - please click on each councillor's name for their email address:

    with thanks
    Tim Ashby

  54. a very relevant re markets report see section 49

  55. Anonymous said...On the 10th
    "I love Tesco. We need more supermarkets, I don't know what the fuss is from all you rural curtain twitchers. Whatever next, neighbourhood watch?"
    Mischief maker!
    If you love Tesco - go live in Shepton Mallet!

    on a serious note - all that Tesco will bring to Frome will be more cars, more pollution, congestion caused by even more massive deliver lorries trying to thread their way into the already over used and inappropriate roads. Don't be sucked in by the developers promise to improve roads, etc because once the contract to build is in their sweaty little hands they will almost certainly apply to change the planning applications. I for one will be interested to see comments from our local MP - Mr Heath, I hope you're reading this thread. I think in light of everything else which is happening to Frome and your failure to honour the Lib Dems tuition Fees pledge, your coat is already on a shaky nail and a failure to resist Tescoism in Frome could be the final straw and at the next election Frome will have a REAL Tory MP, not a pretend one, I don't want that to happen!

  56. I also post under the anonymous name but would like to disociate myself from the other anonymouus who posted the flippant "I love tesco" remarks

  57. Perhaps we could start with making an improvement to the site using pictorial meadows - see Look at the Gallery pictures of Sheffield derelict sites. Doing this could help get more community involvement, and also get people to see that there are alternatives to the previous type of developments.

    IF there does need to be any sort of large food outlet how about Co-op which has a local dairy farm, and possibly others- that could be direct supplier of the store, alongside other local producers. No idea how ameanable they would be to very local food producer approach but as you can become a member and have a voice has to be better that Tesco.

  58. To John; I've replied via email (hope its the correct address) as its a complex response but essentially there are no references to particular sizes of units, just a reference to street 'block' sizes. I'll have another read & see if I spot anything of particular use, other than the details posted here -

  59. part 2

    Big Society
    The new rights can be crudely summarised as, first, the right to trigger a procurement process and second, the right to delay someone selling a “community asset”.

    I am sure that joy is unconfined at the country’s breakfast tables: “Look at this, Fred. What we have always wanted – being admitted to the charmed circle of local government procurement!”. And the Secretary of State was rather reticent on television on Sunday about exactly how the new right to acquire would work.

    The best we can say is that these new rights offer some opportunities. Local and community leadership will be critical to making positive changes emerge.

    Where’s the money?
    We know there is less. Has the balance we argued for been achieved? Will Bradford, Burnley and Bolton have as much capacity to respond to local needs as Guildford and Godalming. We will comment further on the details as we get to grips with them.

    A shiny toolkit or a spanner in the works?
    The Localism Bill is potentially a major shift in the balance of power and the capacity to act. Local authorities and local neighbourhoods now need to come together make sure that the detail of the bill does give them the freedom to make the changes they want to see. Of course that would have been so much easier with the same level of funding as in recent years but we should still take up the challenge.

    Government still needs to do more to show how they are exercising their key responsibility of balancing the capacity of places across the country and how they see this toolkit of new measures really contributing to economic and social improvement. We would welcome a fuller and clearer statement.

    We need strong local political leadership together with strong community advocates making the case for change. UKR will help with the sharing of experience from regeneration projects, support local practitioners, and start getting involved in working out how to deliver change in this new world.

  60. I posted part one but it disappeared here it is again

    Nimby or not Nimby
    Planning is about managing change – balancing the benefits of new development against the costs. Both costs and benefits apply to the immediate locality and to wider communities. They also require a trade off between the preferences of people now and meeting the needs of people in the future. The Bill takes away the stick (the top down targets) and offers carrots (more local power and the bonus at least for one kind of development). This is a high risk strategy – not least because there will be some turbulent transitions. A quick reading of the Bill itself suggests that local authorities will retain a clear leadership role through the preparation of their local plans but they will need to be responsive to proposals for neighbourhood plans.

    In regeneration this focus on local engagement has been the norm for some time. Estate renewal projects have only be able to go forward when the local people endorse the plans. The advocacy required to achieve consent is considerable and time consuming. Our colleagues in the planning profession and development industry should take the techniques we have learned the hard way and recognise the need to apply them generally. Engage, engage and win the case for change.

  61. tesco pays for "favourable" research - from New Economics Foundation

    14 October 2010

    The truth about Tesco's 'anchor' claims

    David Boyle

    nef fellow

    .Do Tesco's claims to support local regeneration really stack up?

    retweetA friend has passed me yet another cutting, this time from a magazine called Retail Therapy, which includes much the same quotation from the ubiquitous Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco’s corporate affairs director.

    As usual, it pedals the same line that we have seen from Tesco for the past few months, quoting some research from the University of Southampton that says how much people welcome new supermarkets once they set up in the high street, or out of town (70% in fact).

    The strong implication is that Tesco are doing a jolly good job for local economies everywhere.

    Now we have let the great oligopolists alone for some time now, God bless them, but we really need to look a bit more closely at the Neville-Rolfe thesis, especially when high streets are struggling in a recession. Actually, it is seriously misleading.

    1.First, even in the Southampton research, local traders were not nearly as positive as it first appears. When it came to looking at the effect of the new superstore on their own business a year after opening, only 28 per cent of traders were positive. Another 33 per cent said that the effects had been negative. So much for the idea that clone town retail developments provide an economic anchor for surrounding stores.
    2.Tesco is boasting that they created 12,000 new jobs last year. Maybe they did, but we have to balance that with the number of jobs they destroyed by draining local economies of circulating money, never mind the other effects when small shops close. For some reason, there is a bizarre blindness for this kind of research when it comes to subtracting. Yes, there are economic benefits, but they count for little unless we also know about the disbenefits.
    3.It is worth just checking who paid for the research in these cases to see how much we can rely on its objectivity. Oh, what a surprise, it was actually Tesco themselves. This is not to cast any doubt on the credentials of the academics behind it, but it does demonstrate a breathtaking naivety in the sponsors.
    We have to be sensible about this. Lucy Neville-Rolfe talks about supermarkets providing anchor stores for retail-led regeneration, and it would be insane to suggest this was impossible.

    Of course some stores provide an anchor for local economic success. The problem comes when the stores also have ambitions to sell everything, to intervene in every market, to compete with every product – and to do so corrosively against the remaining shops around them.

    Previous experience suggests that, while stores like Waitrose can be an anchor, stores like Tesco often have the opposite effect – claiming to anchor economic recovery, but actually surreptitiously devouring the businesses around them.

    What local authorities badly need is some means by which they can distinguish the two ‘anchor’ claims, and estimate what the likely effect on local money flows are likely to be of a new development.

    Luckily we do have, in the LM3 tool (, a means for telling the difference. I hope in these difficult times, when local authorities are being handed back important planning powers, that they use it – to tell the anchors apart from the carnivores.

    nef recently published Re-imagining the High Street: Escape from Clone Town Britain, which argues for a well-being based approach to low carbon local economic development.

  62. Ofcourse they do not mention circumstances in the above research - was it conducted in towns like Frome which already has quite a few supermarkets?

  63. What we risk losing - in the following link Frome is mentioned - 275 stores of which only 40 are multiples - no wonder St James and Tesco are licking their lips - They can mop these up and rent the rest to the clone multiples

  64. TESCO shareholders Warren Buffets Fund and another american fund Blackrock

    This where the profits go

  65. Every little helps

  66. If other people are trying to post on this site here is a tip

    When you hit the "Post comment" button you are likely to get a little red line. Do not be put off. Keep going post a gain and again until you get the odd code to enter. After entering it post again.
    If you post disappears - do what I do type it first in your word program and save it. Then copy and paste it onto this board. If it disappears go and get it again from your word program apnd paste it onto this site again.

  67. I am wondering whether we need to demolish existing buildings instead of refurbishing those which are structurally sound and could be upgraded to meeting 'green' requirements. There are very good exsamples of how small workshops/studios, retail units and residential accommodation ( think loft appartments here) can add to the vibrancy of place. Think Camden Lock in London . It started off as a small artisan led development and now has become a vibrant tourist destination in it's own right. The industrial heritage can be clearly read, although the original artisans who got the site going, were priced out eventually. The point is that we have an opportunity to develop a space which encourages interaction and could be also include recreation opportunities such as a swimming platform in the river, relexation and games area such as fixed table tennis tables, giant chess sets, climble sculptures etc. as well as permaculture planting. A square large enough for street performers to entain would be great and would add to the ambiance of Frome. Could we raise the finance to develop the site by selling community shares?

    We also should ask which part of Town is a supermarket development going so serve, given that Liddles is only a stone's throw away. Residents living in West Frome shopping on foot would not like to carry their shopping even further.

    It seems devisive to me to distinguish between Fromies born and bread and incomers. The latter have made their home here and are as entiltled to contribute to the debate as long standing residents. Every town/city has it's diffent demographic layers, which contribute to the diversity of a place. We should all welcome this fact and see it as an opportunity for encouraging different ways of addressing new challanges. We all are trying to find ways of coping with difficult circumstances such as climate change, economic meltdown, the ugly face of globalisation etc. It is very much trial and error, but who really wants to shop, bank, rent a home and work for one transnational corporation, especially, if eventually that becomes the only option, because we have not come up with other solutions, which build on diversity.

  68. Everyone, its not Tesco we need to fight, its a BIG SUPERMARKET. Even if its a Waitrose or Morrisisons, they will all kill our town centre!

  69. Its great that so much energy is being generated by this issue. But, with real respect to many who have posted here and elsewhere I would like to make some observations on this debate.:
    There is a clear gulf between those who have just entered the debate about the future of Saxonvale and those who have been involved for many years and understand how the story has unfolded and the ownership and the detailed planning issues involved.
    To assume the proposal for a supermarket here is either a new issue or that none of the inhabitants knew, cared or understood the impact of a supermarket is, in itself, to grossly misunderstand the situation.
    The proposals by SJI are just the latest in a string of proposals for this and other parts of the centre of town. They have been pilloried in the press by being open about it to the public. There have been other much more detailed development proposals recently that were kept away from the public eye by the Developer and Council under rules of 'commercial confidentiality'.
    Proposals for a Tesco on Saxonvale go back at least 10 years. We have successfully fought off these proposals because the Council, with uncharacteristic wisdom, appointed Gillespies to devise the Planning Brief and Codes. This protects the site from inappropriate development as it forms Supplementary Planning Guidance.
    It is The Only Game in Town.

  70. @Ric:

    Can you post something on the thread following the post about the Planning Brief? It would be good to get a conversation started there.

  71. Don't forget on BBC1 wednesday 22nd 9pm what price cheap food? about supermarkets

  72. A lot of people have invested a lot of time in the current scheme and others have a vested interest in seeing it proceed. But we have the opportunity to reconsider as Peter MacFayden said. It is possible to consider executing part of it. It is certainly possible to consider restricting the size of the supermarket. But not with the Tescos of this world who have been known to depart from size/use/content etc even during the building of such a supermarket and seeking post hock granting of permission. We must not be naive. Do we have to execute the housing plan as a whole or can it be staged and different section have different origins and constructors? Why are we bound to such an area of other high rent shops.40000 sq feet of extra retail is almost certain to depress existing areas. Who is calling the shots here? are the regeneration industry and big retail holding the county district and town to ransom?

  73. I would like to return to the 'class' issue that has been mentioned several times as irrelevant. Whether we are comfortable with the idea or not, it does exist in Frome.

    Unfortunately the differences have become more obvious in the last few years. Recent migrants seem to have, on average, far more disposable income than many locals, some of their interests are very different, and by being vocal they appear to have power and influence.

    Although there are common interests (C&G bands, for instance), on the whole Frome does not cater so well for those not interested in the arts, wholefoods, retro fashion and the like. So the out-of-town superstores, and Bath and Bristol shops and entertainment lure many residents away from the town centre.

    In respect of Saxonvale, one of the questions people need to consider is whether they want the town to provide for all of its 27,000-and-growing residents? Doing so would be the most sustainable solution, and extra footfall would benefit existing local shops.

    If this is the way forward, then it means providing what those people want. Another way forward is to keep the town frozen in time, with no significant changes. I personally think this would lead to withering on the vine, would certainly be a waste of all the efforts of caring people to get the Design Brief right, and would disappoint many in Frome.

    Another way forward is to provide 'alternative' shopping solutions, parks and community-owned facilities. It has yet to be shown whether any of this is possible, affordable, or wanted by enough people in Frome.

    Knowing how a giant Tesco changes the character of the area will be of concern to all who care about Frome, whatever side of the debate they are on. A superstore isn't in the Design Brief, so it can be opposed. If there are viable alternatives, please come up with them as a matter of urgency - Saxonvale's time appears to have arrived.

  74. Gerlinda makes a good point "We all are trying to find ways of coping with difficult circumstances such as climate change, economic meltdown, the ugly face of globalisation etc. It is very much trial and error, but who really wants to shop, bank, rent a home and work for ONE TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATION, especially, if eventually that becomes the only option, because we have not come up with other solutions, which build on diversity."

  75. Councillor Maggie D seeks to divide by raising class as an issue. This suggests a lack of convincing arguments. Many of the people that she characterises as middle class are strong supporters of her party. They are accused of having more income, being more vocal, having more power and having more influence. Also many are said to be "incomers", suggesting an alien non- Fromian presence. So is it somehow alien to Frome to have a more than average disposable income. So their influence is unwelcome whereas Warren Buffet the chief shareholder in Tesco is more welcome. The people who have more income are more likely to spend it in Frome restoring or building houses, employing local services and supporting local businesses. Other towns show a strong desire to attract money and talent but not apparently this Councillor. If they are more vocal it could be that they care for the town and are anxious that the right decisions are made, but that seems to be unacceptable. The Cheese and Grape meeting was an OPEN meeting, well publicised and well attended. Only a small minority would have fitted Magg D's description of rich incomers. It is a well known ploy for politicians to cloak themselves in the guise of "Speaking for the silent majority" against anyone who may dissent, but one hope unites people regardless of origin or income and that is they all value Frome and do not want it harmed by the wrong sort of development.

  76. correction Cheese and Grain

  77. What is notably lacking from much of the discussion above is actually some alternatives for Saxonvale or may I suggest to the big business paradigm. Social enterprise is fluorishing across the UK. I've been collecting some examples over the past few weeks. So here goes:-

    The Peoples' Supermarket see

    We already have our own Vallis Veg, and here is the Stable Trading Company in Lancashire,run by my good friend John Atherton and growing local food, baking bread and operating cafe's with a workforce which incudes some of the most vulnerable and oft excluded in society.

    London's The Lexi Cinema a community focused organisation that is so much more than a cinema

    As others have said, a school on the site would be great. Perhaps one such as the proposed Frome Free School which is actively seeking an educational model for the future and whose pupils would be able to join in the entrepreneurial activities elsewhere in saxonvale / the town

    Add a work / small business hub aka the Old Church School and some artisan facilities such as the silk mill

    An exemplary sustainable housing project

    and you might have the beginnings of something others across the country might be interested in visiting ....and learning from. So throw in an a hotel run as a social enterprise training young people for careers in food prep etc aka Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurants and some educational facilities for people to learn how to make this happen for their town....

    These are all initiatives which I believe are leaning into the future - a sustainable future -will create worthwhile jobs and would truly draw people to visit Frome and spend their money not just in saxonvale but throughout the town....

    Now what would it take to make that happen???

  78. and here's another one. the bricks and bread sustainable living centre in aldershot.. helping people connect, build and run businesses sustainably

  79. This came to Sustainable Frome, where there is a parallel lively debate on whether we (as an organisation) should take a particular stance. I asked if i might post it here as it raises some interesting issues I think (the author was quite happy)

    We are all bombarded with advertising from when we are born, trying to persuade/condition/brainwash us as to what we think we want and need.
    We forget that we have lived without plastic bags, factory farms, cars, supermarkets, central heating, television - all those things that we think are essential to our existence.
    We forget how to cook, use our legs or spend an evening reading a book instead of watching the television or sitting in front of a computer screen.

    In my opinion (we are all entitled to one, whether we are an insider/outsider or of whatever class) We should absolutely be taking a stand AGAINST this development.

    Supermarkets are hugely powerful and help to fuel the need/want for ever cheaper factory-farmed animals, ever more uniform vegetables - either GMO or covered in pesticides,
    and cheap clothes produced in third world sweat shops.
    People want cheap food, but we are looking at this the wrong way.
    Shouldn't we be asking why wages are so low (and also why some people's wages are so high) that people feel they have to shop in places where the food is supposedly so cheap
    (I don't even know if this is true).

    We can come easily come up with (probably have many already) visions for a positive and sustainable future, without the need for supermarkets
    (I am very interested if anyone feels strongly in favour of a supermarket and would like to hear their arguments).
    There is a very good booklet called "Permaculture of the Self" (written by a vegan/punk/anarchist permaculture teacher) about the need to be for something, rather than always being against (avaiable from

    And as they said in the Flashing Blade - It's better to have fought and lost than not have fought at all.

  80. ....and in answer to Luke's request for alternatives, how about a HUGE Mosque? To Take the pressure off Mecca; save Muslims who wish to go for an alternitive pilgimage money; bring in trade to Frome; demonstrate out multicultural intent; save carbon from flights not taken......

    The proposed supermarket at 40,000 sq ft is a relatively large one. For Frome's seventh supermarket 28000 sq ft would be more than enough, making it more likely to confine itself to the food sector. An extra 10,000 sq may be the other component.
    This proposes another 40,000 sq ft of trading space in units. These, because of their size and rent, would be only affordable by clones of the national and international multiples.
    These are the shops are most likely to damage the current independent traders in Frome. They lie close to the supermarket and parking, therefore a shopper after visiting the supermarket is more likely to visit the shops nearby. They will benefit from any increase in any increased "footfall" and not the existing shops. Putting so much car parking space in the Saxonvale area will also draw too much trade away from Catherine and the upper town. It will also leave a visual hollow in the area.
    By damaging trade in other parts of the town Frome will lose its interest and distinctiveness. I believe Frome currently attracts refugee shoppers from cloned towns nearby seeking a different atmosphere and more personal treatment. Frome still feels like a living town. It would be a pity if it were reduced to just another collection of shops with names and stock that you see in nearly every other town.
    So a reduction in the space in Saxondale offered to these clones would be be a step in the right direction and would help guarantee that Westway and the centre of town did not die. As well as this reduced commercial rates for local traders that have only 1 or 2 premises may be a help under the new "localism" laws.
    A sub-component of the scheme embracing smaller cheaper premises for Somerset-only small traders protected from takeover or encroachment might help. The total area for the non supermarket traders should be reduced to 23000 sq ft total.
    With regard to housing, building the whole scheme at once may seem convenient but phasing it would be wiser. It would be less of a commitment and would give opportunity for reassessment and fine tuning plans for later stages. A private individual-built section should be considered and better vistas and space around River Frome should perhaps be included. At its current state the plan looks too uniform and lacking in interest, character and diversity. Finally what assessment has been made with regard to future flooding?

  82. The other 10000 sq feet of large food would be for Woodies and other similar shops that use only regional suppliers.

    They would lower rates per sq ft rent as an incentive. So on site the shoppers would have immediate choice between local/supermarket

  83. My two previous posts were somewhat corrupted when I transferred them from Word.

    So summarising

    28000 sq ft for a trustworthy,food-only supermarket

    10000 sq ft for local food Unions (Woodies and others)

    Car park reduced.

    23000 sq ft for surrounding shops (with some special small shops for local start ups)

    Housing phased and reconsidered after every phase.

  84. Send in the Clones II

    Costa coffee proposes to open in Frome with 8 jobs(low paid)

    How many of the local coffee shops will shut?

    Profits will leave town and go to Whitbread shareholders

  85. I have conmsidered the above posts and think the areas given to the supermarket and shops is still too big

  86. Now this story sounds very familiar

    "Linwood town centre, in Renfrewshire, was bought by Balmore Properties in 2001 in a £1.7 million deal and fell into decline over the next six years before Tesco stepped in as a "knight in shining armour" and snapped up the site"

    I am sure I have heard of something similar
    (story from the Scotsman newspaper and quoted by Tescopoly)

  87. The prime minister will meet business leaders this week. Amongst them will be heads of the big 4 supermarkets who will promise to "create more jobs" but will not confess how many jobs they will destroy. We know the damaging effect of supermarkets on communities so this hardly feels like a move towards the "Big Society"

    I have already contactyed number 10 on the issue if you would like to do so the link is

  88. an obseravtion made in the New Statesman about clone shops

    According to a US study, "In the ten years after Wal-Mart moved into Iowa, the state lost over 555 grocery stores, 298 hardware stores, 293 building suppliers, 161 variety stores, 158 women's clothing stores, 153 shoe stores, 116 drug stores and 111 children's clothing stores. In total some 7,326 businesses went to the wall."

    In Britain, the Tesco expansion is having a similar effect, killing off small general stores at the rate of one per day and specialist shops such as butchers, bakers and fishmongers at 50 per week.

    And diversity is suffering in other ways. The supermarkets are targeting the newsagent sector through their new, small branches, but whereas independent local newsagents typically carry a wide range of magazine titles, the multiples concentrate on the top 100 titles with the biggest turnover, to maximise profit. The same is true for the sale of CDs and DVDs. So not only do they reduce the range of shops, they reduce the choice of goods, too.

  89. Tesco wants it all

    The first Tesco store was opened in 1929 in Burnt Oak, Edgware, Middlesex. Originally a UK-focused retailer specialising in food and drink, it has diversified both geographically and by product, into areas such as clothing, electronics, financial services, telecoms, home, health, car and dental insurance, retailing and renting DVDs,[9] CDs, music downloads, Internet services and software.

    And now garden centres and local shopping and books and now Tesco Towns

  90. How much would that leave for local shops?

  91. If the current plan was carried out a typical shopper to Frome would drive into the Supermarket car park and do the supermarket shop. They would then go into Starbucks for a coffee and a bun. Then they would stay in Saxonvale and visit the clone shops next to the supermarket. perhaps Gap, Next, Pret a manger Phones4u (sending their profits out of town

    After that the time would be up for free parking and they would leave. At no point touching the existing shops.

    So should the new shops be placed next to the supermarket? or should shoppers be encouraged to cross the road to the other side where as well as the new shops they will see existing shops?

  92. the more one learns about this issue the more one sees that there was a deliberate effort by developers to squeeze more and more retail space into the area. they went back to mendip and town councils pushing for more and more. the owners want commercial retail rents and had no regard for the rest of the retail shops in town.

    We should not be panicked nor should we allow ourselves to bcome the battleground for the big4

    Asda Sainsbury tesco and Morrisson's are involved in a knockdown takeout fight and wherever one of them goes the other tries to follow and no consideration is shown for the damage they cause to the rest of the town.

    If we must have one we should think about a smaller more honest supermarket ( in a post above it mentioned Waitrose as most ethical)

    Do not be panicked it has taken 10 years to come up with this very imperfect plan - let's take a little more time and never mind developers, supermarkets regenration committees let's get it right for Frome for us and for future generations. There was not enough attention or discussion about the other jobs and industries on this site. In the end they may far more important for Frome.

  93. OK, so there was a palpable lack of enthusiasm for m mosque idea....... but check out this alternative alternative from the Observer today: Power to the peopleDo all supermarkets have to be the same? What if you could start your own, run on ethical, sustainable principles and staffed by volunteers? One group in London is giving it a try


  94. Waitrose support a local supplier market in Truro.

    it unveiled its plans for a new supermarket combined with a Taste of Cornwall store as part of a new Truro Eastern District Centre (EDC).

    More than 1,200 people attended the two-day exhibition to showcase the proposed new development, with several hundred lining up to sign the petition, while a survey asking for people's reaction to the project was overwhelmingly favourable.

    The comments were in stark contrast to those made at a meeting in July, when many spoke against developing the land at the junction of the A39 Newquay Road and the A390 Union Hill.

    Anthony Richards, chairman of St Keverne Parish Council, and one of the men behind Taste of Cornwall, said: "We had about 88 per cent of people in favour.

    "And hundreds have signed the petition to support the application. It is far better than we could have hoped for."

    Project co-ordinator Mike Booth said that many had also praised the park and ride.

    He said: "It's been incredibly positive, more so than we could have dreamt of. There were a lot of positive comments about Waitrose.

    "And everyone is very keen on the park and ride. This is what will take it out of subsidy. It will help double the number of passengers but for a fraction of the cost.

    "Even the architecture has been attracting a lot of favourable comments – but obviously there will be people who are against it."

  95. John Harris will be to shy to mention it, but his article in the Saturday Guardian "The British Highstreet RIP" and the comments which follow it, is stuffed with alarming thoughts on where next for smaller British towns without enough spending money.... (sorry you'll have to cut and paste it...)

  96. Superb article by John Harris would be worth giving its own page if Guardian agreed

  97. More huge Tescos

    Nomura says that while Tesco's international operations are widely
    acknowledged as under-appreciated, the same can be said of its position in
    the domestic market as the retailing giant has the headroom to double the
    number of its UK compact hypermarkets.
    Analyst Nick Coulter says that Tesco has scope to double its 'Extra' store
    portfolio to around 400 stores in the long term, "thereby underpinning
    mid-single digit space growth for much of the next decade." The Japanese
    broker estimates that this expansion would add over ??2bn to 'pure' non-food
    sales, to approach around ??6bn in the long term.

  98. A quote from a report from ThisisSomerset paper

    "Mr Meacher said that in the planning brief the plan for the site is a mixture of housing, retail and open spaces and that there was no way to stipulate how much of that could be used as a supermarket."

    We need to start challenging this.

    In the light of the new Localism Bill we need to have an expert to explore this issue with the minister concerned Eric Pickles. We are either going to have a "Big Society" or is it just spin?

  99. The plan is unbalanced - in it's current state it would effectively drag most shopping into Saxonvale.
    A better idea would be to limit all retail to a contiuous development from Notts Industries site towards the the town and across the main road into Westway and on to the current Cork St car park area behind Westway. So linking it up with Cathrine's Hill and wrapping around through Shepherd's Barton and Rook Lane to the upper end of Bath St and Market Place.

    By doing this we would keep the town centre in place and mix old and new without damage. If we put 40000 sq ft of new shops just in Saxonvale we will divide the town and kill its heart.

    The other end of Saxonvale can be residential - small businesses, offices, schools parks and be protected from the hurly-burly of lorries, commerce and cars.

  100. So if people are attracted towards Market Place and use the shops in Westway and Cork Street car park area they are more likely to use the shops and businesses in the rest of the town

  101. From another posting about Saxonvale by Ric

    "There have been other much more detailed development proposals recently that were kept away from the public eye by the Developer and Council under rules of 'commercial confidentiality'.

    This is interesting. Why the confidentiality? Are there "planning gains" in these proposals? What are we not being told by our representatives on the council?

  102. Just what incentives do developers offer councils? Just what pressure do they exert on councils?

  103. I found the following surprising

    I found the following surprising

    Outline Planning Application Numbers: 120416/004 28 October 2009
    This refers to the revised Outline Application plans registered on 16 September 2009.

    However, we OBJECT to:

    4. Lack of sufficient retail and office floorspace

    This is risky considering the fragility of the town's current retail scene. It would move 90% of the trade away frome the current town centre and seal it into the Saxonvale area

  104. When the planner was asked what %age of the town retail would be in Saxonvale he quoted a low %age because he compared the new Saxonvale figure with the TOTAL of the town shops NOT as a %age of the town centre shops.

    If he had compared Saxonvale to the town centre shopd it would have been a much higher %age.

  105. returning to what Mr Meacher's of Mendip Planning Dept said at the meeting.

    " that there was no way to stipulate how much of that could be used as a supermarket."

    This is crucial. It makes it a Pandora's box.

    It is a choice of NO supermarket or complete loss of control over the size and nature of that supermarket. that is highly unsatisfactory and the people of Frome (many of whom would like some sort of supermarket there) would have their hands tied if they said yes.

    There must be some method of allowing the community of Frome to exert direct influence over something that could change the very nature of their town.

  106. From an article in The Telegraph

    UK supermarkets are 'barons of politics', says SNP's Salmond

    The politician lashed out on a radio programme yesterday after MSPs last week rejected his party's plans to introduce an extra tax on supermarkets in Scotland.

    The so-called "Tesco Tax" would have increased retailers' rates bills on some individual stores by 30pc.

    Asked on BBC Five Live why he thought that the Scottish National Party's tax plan was rejected at Holyrood, Mr Salmond accused the supermarkets of "moaning" and said: "My theory is that the supermarkets have the most enormous lobbying power. I think they are the barons of politics."

    He said that the idea behind the tax supplement, which would have raised £30m, was to redistribute some of the tax burden with small retailers and support town-centre retailing.

    "We wanted to put additional rates on the very large supermarkets and out-of-town shopping centres and the reason is that we believe that are hugely profitable businesses and we wanted to rebalance the relationship [between out-of-town and town centre retail]," he said.

    Mr Salmond said that supermarkets could have afforded the tax: "Take Sainsbury's, for example, who were moaning about it. They would have been asked to pay in a year - in a whole year - £2.5m more as their contribution. £2.5m more in a year. That is their revenue for a single hour. They are making that in a single hour, and yet they moaned about having to pay that additional amount to help everyone else in a difficult economic situation over a year."

    "I think it is a strong positive idea and I am really sorry the Labour, Conservative and Liberal parties combined to vote it down," he added.

    Last year Justin King, Sainsbury's chief executive, threatened to halt the chain's expansion in Scotland if the tax went ahead.

    Sainsbury's said last week that the tax would have "penalised one of the few sectors that continues to create jobs during the economic downturn".


    see whole article at

  107. Daily Mail report on our dying town centres

  108. If I were new to this question about Frome supermarket I would be hard to find "Whats the alternative" thread

  109. A quick reminder that all the key information, diagrams, map showing supermarket sizes, etc. on Saxonvale can be found here

  110. To ind this sub-blog which is the only really active one on the subject

    a new viewer would have to work his/her way through

    Main Blog

    index side column 2010

    choose after scanning 9 other possible sub -blogs

    Ask anyone on the street in Frome about this blog and you'll get a very blank look

    arrive at this sub blog

  111. ... and you might like to see the Urban Design Framework for Frome from several years ago which set the scene for the proposed public square on Saxonvale - with King Street reinforced as a pedestrian-priority 'shared surface' to link the town together more effectively -

  112. 111 comments here mostly unread by the citizens of Frome

  113. I agree with (one of the many) Anonymous, which is why I'm putting the key info on the much-more-user-friendly (& SEO friendly) Frome People site. Feel free to comment there also....

  114. As was pointed out at the last meeting there were defects in the original proposal

  115. For anyone who would like to send people to this thread, you can use this short link

  116. the proposal skewed too much towards the Saxonvale area - it was too 1990s

  117. NEVER NEVER have a shop that appears to be empty - It depresses an area and keeps entrepreneurs away who might oterwise open up

  118. supermarkets raising price of food much more than inflation

  119. Looking at recent correspondence in the Frome Guardian it appears people believe there exists two groups one for and one against a supermarket in Saxonvale. This is not so.
    At the last public meeting it appeared the question was more about what sort of supermarket and what else came with it. In numerous groups there was concern over the behaviour of the big four national supermarkets and whether there was a better more firendly solution that suited Frome and Somerset people that did not over whelme the towns community life.
    We see how one of the big four is behaving in Wells - it is more concerned with competing with another large supermarket (Tesco) than with suiting the needs and wishes of the people of Wells

    see the link below

    people do not like this sort of bullying and that is what gives rise to the questions asked at these meetings

  120. I am looking up this website as lifelong resident of the town. A few thing spring to mind I find hard to understand.

    The biggest opposition for the supermarket is coming from people who do not originate from Frome, how can that be if there is so much backing.

    The next question does anyone who may be from Frome remember the town almost dying in the mid to late 80s when the whole town become endless boarded up shops, we had no supermarkets in town other than one back then.

    I dont know the solution but I can see it in a balanced way.

    We bring a supermarket to town we bring in regeneration of an already dying town and create work and wealth and investment (a stragne concept for me to sugest being a marxist anarchist)

    Alternative 1 we leave it to go to rack and ruin as there is no cash about.

    Alternative 2 a mass of local DIY self sufficiant plots to build local projects from

  121. The biggest opposition is to one of the Big 4 supermarkets and its herd of clones distorting the towns trade and community. The last meeting had a significant majority in favour of some supermarket but not one that will bully its way in and impose a load of other shops which together will export all profits to elsewhere whist closing the shops that did recover and start up again and which keep profits in the area. the regenration in Frome did not come from the supermarkets primarily but the establishment of new services and industry in Frome's industrial estates and offices and the work in nearby towns. Since more people are mobile now they commute in and out of Frome.
    frome needs not just low pay jobs in supermarkets but real industrial technological and new wave jobs which will benefit Somerset and UK in general.
    Social capital is the other thing that is difficult to measure but Frome has quite a lot of societies clubs hobby groups charities etc etc and these are the type of things that thrive in a real town with a real centre. Nobody mixes easily in towns whose centres have died so we need to be careful which supermarket we have, how many other shops we have, how they are sited so as to mix old and new and all the other buildings a town needs offices schools clinics etc etc

  122. One of the local papers published a headline

    "Frome tops empty shops league in West as travel agents closes"

    This was based on the findings of a "Local Data Company"
    - we are not told the name of the company
    - nor of who commissioned the study
    - or how it was conducted.
    the finding surprised people and thankfully Richard Swann pointed out that the study only included 40 town centre shops and that independent shops in smaller towns coped better with down turns than those in larger ones.

    Steve Horler pointed out that some of the town shops were being refurbished for new owners and that 3 in the precinct had their leases ended at the same time so giving a false impression in the survey
    let's hope the press treats reporting of Frome with more care in future

  123. One of the Big Four supermarkets at it again

    Puts up price before a sale so that the sale price is not a bargain - but fools shoppers

  124. Supermarkets accused of hollow job creation claims in attempts to open new stores
    Britain’s biggest supermarkets have opened dozens of new stores after pledging to create jobs that never materialised, it has been claimed.
    Tesco and Sainsbury’s have been granted planning permission to expand their enterprises by convincing local authorities that their regions will benefit from the opening of larger stores.
    But analysis of the chains’ annual reports show that their promises to create thousands of new jobs have not necessarily rung true.
    Tesco said in its 2008-09 report it would create 11,000 jobs in the following financial year yet analysis of the store’s total British workforce only shows a net increase of 1,305.

    Similarly, Sainsbury’s said it has created 13,000 jobs in the last two years yet its net staff numbers fell from 148,500

    Read more:

  125. Tescos say they bring employment for local people but one national newspaper has revealed that Tesco recruits and trains people in Eastern Europe to work in its UK stores

  126. Fresh bread from supermarkets? No up to a year old according to this article

  127. Is Cameron doing a Sarkozy? Who recently cut the Raffarin Law which helped protect local businesses and communities


  128. Do the big supermarkets regenerate by creating more jobs?

  129. These shops are all owned by one group - Arcadia

    Burton Stores
    Dorothy Perkins Stores
    Evans Stores
    Miss Selfridge Stores
    Outfit Stores
    Topman Stores
    Topshop Stores
    Wallis Stores

    In some towns they have disappeared as soon as the going got tough

  130. Midsomer Norton having trouble with one of the big four supermarkets that is not content with the large store it already has

    Just because we give permission for a certain size store it does not mean the company will stick to it

    Be careful - be very careful of cuckoos in our nest

  131. Countryfile on BBC tv has just reported on Totnes. It has a medium sized town centre supermarket and one other small supermarket and It has not harmed local traders unlike other towns which have a large town centre supermarket and two others outside town.

    So it suggests that to make a supermarket work in a town the size fo Frome we need to remove at least on out of town supermarket.

    You may be able to watch the programme online on the BBC website if they put it on iplayer

  132. p.s. some people might say that Totnes is much smaller than Frome but it serve a large area to the west and north

  133. I see in the local paper some letter writers are still labeling Saxonvale Concern Group as "anti-supermarket" Some people never learn. John Davis read this blog

  134. I see Wells has rejected two supermarkets saying it already has enough and instead has given permission to Barrats to build houses and retail

  135. Tesco as well as every other activity service and shop in a town including insurance banking clothing hardware music books electrical goods used cars etc etc etc TESCO now intend to sell double glazing

    Today Frome tomorrow the world

    we don't just want your food sales WE WANT YOUR TOWN

  136. Ledbury next for the chop

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