Thursday, 27 January 2011

Meeting report from the Somerset standard

 (from the Standard, 27.1.2011 - read it here)

Residents give their views on redevelopment of Saxonvale

A ten-pin bowling complex, a conference centre, a hotel and new leisure facilities for teenagers were some of the suggestions that people made for what they want at Saxonvale following a public meeting last week.
More than 300 people packed into the Cheese and Grain for the meeting on Wednesday last week to hear Mendip District Council planning officers John Meacher and Les Kimberley explain what the existing planning brief for the mainly disused site consisted of.
The meeting was organised by a group of Frome people whose aim is to make sure that everyone in the town gets a say on what goes on the site.
London-based property agent St James Investment's has taken an acquired option on the Notts Industries site and plans to build a 40,000sqm supermarket with a further 40,000sqm of retail.
Developers Terramond have outline planning permission for the site.

Mr Kimberley explained that the planning brief had been put together in 2005 and that it comprised of all the elements needed to make it a successful regeneration of the area.
He said the purpose of the planning brief was to improve efficiency of the planning process and improve the quality of the development.
It includes criteria such as a need for open spaces and links to the town centre and he explained that what is critical in the brief is the highways element, as there are serious issues with access.
The 29-acre site is split into several areas of ownership by different organisations, including Notts Industries, which owns the largest chunk, Mendip District Council, Terramond Property Agents, based in Bristol, and two private owners.
The Regional Development Agency owned a proportion of the site until recently, but it is believed it has now been sold.
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.
The audience was invited to move into smaller groups and discuss what they wanted on the site and the way forward.
The main feedback given was that people did not wish to see a large supermarket, but there was a desire to have something small or medium-sized.
Other opinions included an ice rink, a ten-pin bowling complex, open spaces, a multi-purpose market square in which markets could be held, and one of the main demands was that it had to be linked to the existing town centre.
Concerns raised included whether St James Investments would carry out a consultation with residents.
One question asked in the workshops was whether Mendip could buy any of the land but Mr Meacher said that was an option in theory but highly unlikely due to the current spending cuts put forward by the Government.
Coordinator Luke Wilde said he was delighted with the turnout and thanked those who attended. He added that another meeting was being planned for the near future.


  1. Great meeting! Thanks to the organising group. Just a little anecdote: a year 6 assembly at Oakfield yesterday included a nice little presentation by some kids arguing very well *in favour* of a new supermarket in the middle of town. They didn't distinguish "big" or "medium sized". The teacher taking the assembly pointed out that M&S is too expensive and that Iceland "isn't a real supermarket"; Lidl wasn't mentioned...There's clearly a public debate going on. Is there any way we could input into this debate in schools?

  2. Pippa Goldfinger27 January 2011 at 06:30

    I really enjoyed the meeting but the next day I heard women in the Co-op on Culver Hill complaining that Frome has been left behind and not developed as Trowbridge has(!). It would be good to show people alternative case studies of high quality town centre developments.

  3. Agree with both points... action will be taken. thanks for posting...more please!

  4. Interesting...I have a sense that we (the anti-Tesco's community) need to visualise an alternative. It's so much easier for people to say "we need to be like..." if it already exists...even if it is Trowbridge (AAAAAAaaaaaagh!!). If people know of good case studies - with pictures, video etc. - I'd be happy to compile them into some form of video, presentation or whatever...maybe put them on a website. Maybe we could have visions of hell (Shepton, Trowbridge) and heaven...(tba). Just a thought.

  5. Perhaps we could identify developers who are interested in the style of development we would like and pro-actively approach them. Discovery Properties act on behalf of Waitrose, does any one know who acts on behalf of other supermarkets, large leisure centre and hotel facilities, ethical eco developments etc

  6. Bradford on Avon Community Development Trust


    This Wiltshire town is often described as one of the most atmospheric, best preserved and lively of ancient mill towns. The Trust was formed in 2001 to influence the redevelopment of a 5.5 acre former industrial site in the heart of the town: that issue remains to be resolved. We have competed a govenment-funded study on the potention for hydro-generation and are hopful that it will be possible for this to be taken foward. We are involved with the Town Council on economic activity initiatives and the Trust works with other organisations in the town to take forward issues raised and opportunities suggested by the Bradford on Avon Community Plan.
    Perhaps we should talk with them