Last night Mendip Planning Board approved controversial plans for the redevelopment of Saxonvale. It was a difficult decision. Not least because the local community clearly want Saxonvale developed. Equally it was clear from last night’s meeting, they don’t want this development.
Mendip District Council is also a part landowner at Saxonvale so it was effectively voting on its own proposal. However approval was in the teeth of almost total local opposition. There were over 200 individual objectors, the town council objected and the ward members on MDC, Messrs Clarke and Dunk were also against.
The objections focused on two main areas. That developer Acorn was trying to overdevelop the site with too much housing. Added to which objectors complained that the affordable housing element at 22.5% was well below the 30% that MDC require in their local plan. There were other problems mentioned too. Not enough employment units, tall building creating darkness in the development and issues around the access road.
In the end members of the Planning Board took the view that any development was better than no development. They may have a point, but residents of Frome clearly felt let down by the decision.
Meanwhile there will be some questions around the conduct of the meeting and an insistence that the meeting be held to the strict letter of MDC’s constitution. Because in the end it wasn’t. There will be more on this in the February edition of The Leveller®
So much for democracy….