Where the story started

The story about this project first appeared on Somerset Live on 15th Feb 2018 with a report by James Somper. It came about as a local landowner was approached by Cooper & Tanner, a letter dated October 2017.

CooperandTannerLetter

Architect Mark Brierley tsaid the development would be different to previous estates built locally and architects were thinking of a “garden village” format.

“If people are concerned about a bigger development then that’s because they’re afraid it’ll be more of the same. What we are planning to do is to do it properly with new infrastructure, employment and affordable housing. We’re thinking of a garden village and will be doing this in a planned manner in consultation with the local community to make it beautiful.”

The ‘Garden Village’ concept can be explored via links in the right hand side bar.

On 19th Feb there was an update. Mark said that the garden village would provide “a more ambitious future for Frome” and would tackle the town’s housing crisis.

“63 hectares of land will be designated for a residential development of 2,000 new homes as well as a “village centre” while 23 hectares will be earmarked for commercial use.73 hectares will be preserved as “green-space” parkland with improved walking and cycling routes. 700 homes out of the 2,000 planned for the site will be designated for affordable housing. ”

Mr Brierely said: “What we’re doing is significantly better than the alternatives. We’re saying let’s use it for housing but let’s make it really nice.”

“Frome is a really successful town but it’s full. It needs more space, it needs more housing, it needs more employment, it needs more parks, it needs more playing fields and the only way you can do that is on the scale of development that can provide that infrastructure, and provide benefits for Frome as a whole. So, we’re proposing a relatively large development but up to the existing boundary.”

He added: “The space to the south of Frome is the most developable land around Frome. The town is by far the most sustainable town in Mendip and is a very sensible place for development.”

So lets unpick that a little. Mendip District Council decide on the need for new housing and have allocated Frome for 2300 additional homes. You can see their calculation here.

The allocation for the southern side of Frome is currently for 510 more houses, 30% of these (153) would need to be ‘affordable’. The SGV proposes an additional 1964 houses, with around 589 needing to be ‘affordable’. What does ‘affordable’ mean? More on this later……

The landowners land values could rise from around £5,500 per acre to £500,000 per acre if given residential consent. See Savills report & FWI report.

Questions to ask.

  • Should landowners with a vested interest make plans for the future extension of Frome, or should it be the (regulated) Planning Authority?
  • Is Frome so ‘full‘ it needs more houses?  Here is what the Planning Authority think.
  • How do you judge when a town has reached its optimum size? When its town centre is too small to serve the population? When the outskirts are so far away that residents don’t go into town?
  • Is the proposal ‘significantly better’ than the current alternative, ie. leaving it as undeveloped pasture with open views over Cley Hill and the surrounding countryside? Here are photos of the site.
  • What does ‘significantly better’ than the alternatives actually mean? Is there any evidence of this in the masterplan proposed? Or does it look like other housebuilder-led ‘garden city’ town extensions? Like Taunton here Here is the Taunton bid for ‘Housing Infrastructure Funding’ which is one reason for using this terminology. More details here.
  • Does the proposal really deliver 73 hectares of ‘preserved’ green space parkland? See this page for clues.
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