Objection to Mendip by Stop SGC and the newsletter of 9 February 2021.
Stop SGC objection to the FR3a proposals
We object to the planning applications 2019/3076/FUL, 2020/0451/FUL and 2020/0341/OTS.
Little Keyford is a tranquil space used by local residents and workers for recreation. The narrow, winding lanes, with wide views of the local countryside, offer a contrast from the rest of Frome and they are not capable of managing the resulting increase in traffic that any significant increase to the local population would bring. The area is rich in biodiversity with many ancient hedgerows and veteran trees. Any development here will significantly diminish the amenity value of the area, especially as these three proposals could well be the precursor to something as enormous and unnecessary as the proposed Selwood Garden Community.
2. Poor consultation
The applications for FR3a on planning website are a mess, which acts to deter residents from engaging with these applications, despite those residents having to live with the consequence of these proposals once they are built. The applications are cluttered with endless documents that should have been collated and simplified. Mendip District Council must be stronger with developers and direct them to achieve a much higher standard of presentation, which will encourage greater engagement by the community who will live in and with these homes for many years to come. Residents should not be required to have extensive experience of the planning system in order to easily engage with planning applications.
The area, FR3a, has been split into three plots by two developers, Wainwright and Barrett David Wilson. There is no joined up plan for the 319 homes proposed with the current designs for the site being poorly integrated into the local area. It is disappointing that these houses are not being delivered from brownfield sites elsewhere in the district, but they are a ribbon development on a key Frome Road and are included on the Local Plan Part II.
3. Negative impact on climate
Mendip District Council have made a Climate Emergency declaration and they must start showing that they understand the meaning of this; they need to show more urgency and their actions must match their words. This site, on a south facing slope, offers an excellent opportunity for them to do so by insisting that these houses are built to the highest specification – high-quality, energy efficient buildings maximising the potential to be zero-carbon, reducing the impact of building on green fields.
The technology exists for developers to build this sort of housing. Barratt Homes, part of the Barratt David Wilson group, have shown this with the development at Hanham Hall in Bristol. The FR3a site offers a fantastic opportunity for these developers to work together to build something Frome, its residents, Mendip District Council and the developers can be proud of. To suggest but a few initiatives, these houses should all have south facing roofs and covered in solar panels. They should obtain the Passivhaus standard. Every home should have EV (Electric Vehicle) charge points, as these will become a common, necessary feature in the near future. Instead of the developments being focused on car usage there should be clever street design focused on the quality of life for the residents; community, recreation and large gardens, provided on a good aspect. These gardens would allow residents to grow and enjoy some of their own food. Additional land, elsewhere in the district, should be purchased and put aside by the developers to establish a viable woodland for future generations. This would provide habitat, local amenity value and act as a carbon sink contributing to the vitally important target of carbon neutrality in Mendip by 2030. The current designs for the houses in these proposals could be found anywhere in the UK, they do not fully deliver on the positive attributes that FR3a offers. These are the homes of the past not the future.
The Future Emissions Pathways report, commissioned by Mendip District Council, “highlights that achieving carbon neutrality requires massive behaviour change, such as… 100% of new housing stock built to the extremely high environmental standards (Passivhaus), by 2030” (mendip.gov.uk, 18 February 2021). Mendip District Council could show real intent and desire to achieve this goal by rejecting these proposals and insisting that the developers return with new proposals to build to this standard now. If Mendip District Council does not do this, these houses will need to be retrofitted in the near future at significant expense to the taxpayer. Taking precious funds from other key areas of society while wasting energy and resources at a time when we cannot afford to. Making changes now to the schemes it approves will greatly increase the chances of Mendip District Council achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. It will send a signal to developers that they must change their habits and business model by accepting a reduced (but still significant) profit. They must fulfil their responsibility to leave a positive legacy for the people and communities they build homes for.
4. Lack of masterplan / Cumulative impact
Despite the Local Plan Part II saying “a comprehensive approach should be taken to provision of infrastructure for the whole allocation [of FR3a]” there is no joined up masterplan for the three plots. Access to the B3092 should be from a new roundabout, given the infrequently adhered to speed limits of the current road layout, but these proposals show three separate, poorly spaced access points scattered along it. Being kind, the developers’ reasoning for not providing a roundabout is flimsy and misdirecting. The increased traffic brought about by 319 new homes needs to be thoughtfully planned or the narrow lanes of Little Keyford will be permanently blighted by these proposals.
The plans involve widening the road and the unnecessary destruction of hedgerows on Little Keyford Lane (the partial removal of mature hedgerows, H12, in the application 2020/0451/FUL and H4 in 2020/0341/OTS). These are a rich habitat for invertebrates, mammals and birds and must be retained, not replaced with concrete and a few young saplings.
The cumulative impact of these three sites should be independently investigated – in particular the destruction of hedgerows, the impact on protected species of bats and the actual likelihood that new impermeable surfaces will lead to dangerous flash flooding in the River Frome Valley below.
Stop SGC fears that FR3a and these three applications is just the tip of the iceberg. The site would be physically linked to the proposed Selwood Garden Community. This hare-brained scheme is an outrageous land grab by its promoters, who have a sole motivation of achieving significant and unearned profits. They will destroy the area and its environment by providing an excessive number of homes (c. 2000) that Frome does not need or have the facilities for. Mendip must show greater responsibility to its residents and stand up to the relentless greed of the developers, promoters and financiers thirstily preying on Frome. It is about the right houses in the right place, integrated to the area they serve, while being designed and built to the highest possible standards.
Stop SGC, 24 February 2021
Newsletter, 9 February 2021
Frome deserves better homes
FR3a is an area of land in Keyford on the southern edge of Frome. It was allocated in Mendip’s Local Plan Part II (shown in yellow on this pdf). The Friends of Little Keyford (F.O.L.K.) have compiled a PowerPoint of their objections to the proposals at FR3a and they can be found here (it was presented at Frome Town Council’s Planning Board meeting on 18 February 2021).
We currently have a great opportunity to influence the kind of homes that get built here in Frome. Between now and Thursday 25 February, Mendip District Council is inviting comments on a series of crucial developments close to the SGC site in and around Little Keyford.
The sites in the consultation are listed separately but are all part of an amalgamated site known as FR3a in Mendip’s Local Plan Part II. The planning references are 2019/3076/FUL, 2020/0451/FUL and 2020/0341/OTS.
The current applications are full of flaws but by giving the Council your views (details below), you could help shape what is built here and set a positive precedent for the town.
Why is action needed?
If development is to go ahead in Frome, why should the developers get their way and build row upon row of low-cost, high-profit, environmentally-damaging houses?
Frome deserves better.
Frome has a unique character but the outer edges of the town are pitted with examples of housing built to minimum standards to maximise profit for the developer. Many homes, including those proposed in these applications, will need to be retrofitted at great expense to make them energy efficient. Mendip has declared a Climate Emergency so it must show that its actions are in line with this declaration and consent to housing that leaves a positive legacy for the local community and the planet.
Despite what the developers say there is no Masterplan for these applications. FR3a has been split up into 3 discreet plots allowing the developer to hide the fact that a development of this scale needs a sensible transport plan for the shared access to all the new houses. The current designs will blight the area leaving a legacy of congested lanes and dangerous access to and from a key Frome road, the B3092. The developers comments on access contained within the submitted documents do little to address these serious concerns.
In this consultation you can use your voice to influence the plans and encourage the developers to build high-quality, sustainable homes. To aid your response to these applications we have compiled a few pointers below.
Here’s what housing in Frome could be
One of the two developers is Barratt David Wilson. A subsidiary of Barratt Homes, which has already proved it can build homes that have a positive impact (the sort of homes that Frome deserves) at Hanham Hall in Bristol.
However, the plans for the green fields that make up FR3a are nowhere near this quality. Why is the developer not striving to build high-quality, low-emission housing, when one of them has already shown they are capable to build to a much higher specification. Is it because South Gloucestershire Council pushed for better housing at Hanham Hall? Will Mendip District Council be as bold and insist on high-quality housing for Frome that maximises the legacy for the town and the planet? The developers will still make a large profit on these houses, so what’s to lose?
Please raise this point with the Council and ask them to insist that the developers build to the highest standards.
Frome deserves better.
Raising a positive objection
This is an opportunity to be proactive. By explaining to Mendip what homes Frome wants, we can set down a marker for anything else that might be built in our town.
To raise your positive objection, simply email email@example.com by Thursday 25 February 2021 stating:
“I object to Planning Applications 2019/3076/FUL, 2020/0451/FUL and 2020/0341/OTS because…”
- These plans will not create the kind of sustainable housing Frome needs and deserves. If pushed, these developers can create exemplar homes like the ones Barratt Homes have built in Hanham, Bristol – these are the types of homes that Frome deserves.
- There is no joined up approach to accessing the three sites covered by FR3a. Instead of a new roundabout on the B3092 to provide access to all three sites, there will be separate entrances. The entrance suggested on Little Keyford Lane will see a huge upsurge in regular traffic on a single track lane in and out of town that is popular with families, ramblers, runners and cyclists; seriously reducing the amenity value of the area.
- The plans involve widening the road and the unnecessary destruction of hedgerows on Little Keyford Lane (the partial removal of mature hedgerows, H12, in the application 2020/0451/FUL and H4 in 2020/0341/OTS). These are a rich habitat for invertebrates, mammals and birds and must be retained, not replaced with concrete and a few young saplings.
- The cumulative impact of these three sites should be independently investigated – in particular the destruction of hedgerows, the impact on protected species of bats and the actual likelihood that new impermeable surfaces will lead to dangerous flash flooding in the River Frome Valley below.
If you would like to share your correspondence please copy in firstname.lastname@example.org.