So how many supermarkets do we need in Frome? And how many Tescos in Somerset? There are already three major Tesco stores and half a dozen Express outlets within a 12-mile radius.
Frome is undergoing a period of great change. It is finding its voice (10 of its councillors were recently elected on an Independent for Frome ticket) and quickly evolving, along with a small and noble band of towns like Brighton and Totnes, into a very 21st century community that places sustainability at its centre.
We should not damage the potential for this exciting change by passively allowing the rebuilding of Frome's core sites by remote and aggressive developers, nor by supermarkets. The supporters of more big retail development say that Frome needs to compete with Trowbridge. But it already is competing, in a unique way, through the growth of dozens of small independent retailers who flourish here, that include the national award-winning Whiterow Farm Shop and the shops of Catherine Hill and Cheap Street.
We will not create distinctive local towns that thrive economically and are a pleasure to live in if we make them all identikit places devoid of local businesses. If you want to see what happens when Tesco congregate big retail brands on one of their sites in a market town, take a ride to Shepton Mallet where the life has been sucked out of the town centre.
In the spirit of local enterprise – which seems to do so well in Frome – we should all be fighting off the likes of Tesco and other big retail, supporting the council, writing to our MP and reminding those in power that big commercial proposals for small towns run counter to the Government's agenda for localism and the Big Society.
The development of the Saxonvale site near the centre of Frome is a great opportunity which will not arise again in our lifetimes and it's an opportunity which should be given to local people.
As Frome changes it is attracting more creative businesses and becoming even more sustainable, more distinctive and more special. We must not allow anyone to damage its wonderful potential.