(from the Standard, 27.1.2011 - read it here)
Residents give their views on redevelopment of Saxonvale
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.
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.