Press release – July 2020 – download PRESS RELEASE


When Mendip District Council acquired the Saxonvale site, they declared that they ‘were determined to invest in Frome’s future’. But, say Frome Civic Society, the Council is now on course to grant itself planning permission, not for Frome’s long awaited town centre regeneration, but for a high-density housing estate, dominated by 5-storey blocks of flats.

Architect’s impressions from the planning application (2019/1180/OTS) show housing blocks dwarfing the Silk Mill and Western Warehouse, which can be seen in the foreground of the image above left and the centre right of the image above right. (Nash Partnership, January 2020)

Frome and District Civic Society is calling on Mendip to refuse what is, in effect, its own application, on the grounds that it:

  • does not comply with the core policy for Frome or the vision for Saxonvale set out in its own Local Plan;
  • fails to provide the town centre facilities and employment opportunities set out in the Local Plan;
  • proposes unacceptable building heights, mass and density that will harm Frome’s character and heritage;
  • has not convincingly resolved the projected traffic and congestion problems of the present scheme.

If, as is expected, council officers recommend approval, then district councillors on the Mendip Planning Board will be responsible for granting or refusing consent.

“They need to think very, very carefully about the impact of this application on the town and community of Frome”, says Richard Swann, Chair of the Civic Society. “I suggest that all Members take the time to read the huge number of articulate, well-informed and passionate public objections to this application on the planning website. Frome is overwhelmingly rejecting this scheme.”

The Civic Society urges Mendip District Council and its developers Acorn to restore the intended balance of the site by reducing the residential element and increasing the town centre commercial and community uses. This would result in more jobs, fewer cars and less parking, reduced building heights and a more pleasant place to live and work.

“We absolutely believe in the Saxonvale project in principle”, says Richard Swann. “But 300 dwellings is too many, and too greedy. Mendip and their developers are determined to maximise profit on an unsustainable scheme that doesn’t meet Frome’s economic or social needs. It will squander this once-and-only opportunity to create a vibrant town centre extension and cause irreversible damage to the town’s unique character.”

For further information, contact

Richard Swann (Chair)
T 01373 831256
M 07590 602885


February 2020 response to MDC. Please read in conjunction with previous comments.

Saxonvale FCS response 17_2_20

Frome & District Civic Society are part of the stakeholder group advising Mendip District Council, Acorn Property Group & Nash Partnership. Our full responses can be found at the bottom of this page.

We share many of the council’s aims for the site and would support future development that includes:

  • A well connected Riverside Park and children’s play area, retaining the majority of trees covered by the TPO area, including the old river meander.
  • Seamless pedestrian linkages to the town including a public square, and shared surface streets, including King Street.
  • A pedestrian & cycle bridge across the river to connect to the riverside walk through Willow Vale and Rodden Meadow as a major benefit to residents.
  • This path has become a valuable spine route through the town. A cycle bridge would create a welcome bypass for cyclists avoiding the main town centre roads.
  • A new access road from Garsdale through to the Kingsway car park area to service new and existing commercial developments, alleviating Vicarage Street of non-residential traffic.
  • High quality design of all parts of the development, avoiding pastiche and generic ‘modern’ design, but embracing the special qualities of the town’s spatial and material character.
  • Inclusive residential development with an emphasis on a broad range of dwelling size and cost, including a proportion of flats for sale and rent that suit the needs of the existing community, young and old.
  • A range of retail and commercial development focussed on larger units and follow-on space for growing enterprises, that complements rather than competes with the existing offer in the town.
  • Continuity of active building frontages on principle routes from the town centre, with taller ground storeys, designed for adaptation to a variety of uses, safeguarding future trends in demand for residential, retail and commerce as the town grows.

The first consultation can be found on the website.

Exhibition downloads & feedback

Our formal responses:

August 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2020

Here is the February 2019 proposal by Acorn;

Here is the Civic Society response and alternative proposal, based on the Nash layout.

Saxonvale February 2019 

The planning application for outline consent was lodged in May 2019 here.

The Civic Society Design Review Panel have had detailed discussions with the Architects & Developer. Summary bullet points of key issues can be downloaded here FCS 5_6_19 BULLETS. An initial traffic report identifying key issues can be downloaded Traffic report.

The Civic Society have now lodged their objection, which you can download here FCS comment 18_6_19 on Saxonvale application

Second response Feb 2020 Saxonvale FCS response17_2_20