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Fromefield Co-op to open Weds 2nd December

by adamboyden on 25 November, 2015

The new Co-op convenience store at Fromefield is nearing completion and is planning to open on Wednesday 2nd December at 9am.

The store has been fitted out to a high specification, with energy efficient and eco-friendly equipment and systems ‘installed where possible’. The store will include ‘an in-store bakery, coffee machine, hot and cold ‘food to go’, and a range of fresh, chilled, grocery and household ranges, local products, including beers, ciders and wine, with National Lottery, Health Lottery, PayPoint and free car parking (spaces for 10 cars, 4 of which will be cordoned off during major deliveries). A new cashpoint machine will also be on site.

I have been dealing with several issues on this during planning and construction, so please let me know what you think when the shop is completed.

In response to Ian Marshall’s letter in last week’s Frome Standard, planning permission for the new Co-op store at Fromefield was granted by Mendip District Council planning officers under delegated powers in July 2014 (ref. 2013/1514/FUL). The design of the store was chosen by the applicant Radstock Co-operative and their architects, and was subject to some consultation and amendments. Frome Town Council, Frome Civic Society and some residents objected on the external appearance and a few other things. MDC officers considered the demolition of the old surgery building and the development of the new store complied with local and national planning policies, that the design and scale was appropriate and acceptable, and that it would not harm the character and appearance of the Fromefield Conservation Area or the setting of neighbouring listed buildings. Due to the importance of getting the design and traffic issues right, at this prominent site and busy road junction, I asked for the application to be scrutinised and decided by councillors on MDC’s Planning Board instead. But my request was turned down (by the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Planning Board (Conservative councillors not from Frome) without any specific reasons), so it was granted permission without going to the Planning Board.  Further details have since been approved (with some prominent advertising boards refused), and the site has been very busy of late.

The shop is due to open next week. It will be a popular local store and a good source of local jobs, and I applaud Radco’s and the Co-op’s community and ethical policies. Planning is a tricky business. We do need ‘greener’ development (!) but whether the building fits in with the local area, is an interesting question. What do people think?

Links: Mendip District Council’s planning webpages on this application and later amendments and further details, is here. The original and approved planning application 2013/1514/FUL is here with submitted documents and decision notice here, and comments from consultees and the public here. The planning officer’s report is here (2013-1514-FUL Officer Report), and my report to the Chair and Vice Chair of Planning Board for the application to be decided at Planning Board (which was refused) is here. Building work started in April – see Radco’s press release here.

Updates:

December 2015/January 2016: The new Co-op convenience store is open at Fromefield, with a cashpoint on the corner. I am now in discussion with residents and MDC officers on a few planning matters and I’m hoping to help persuade Radco to improve the appearance of the building in terms of the setting of the neighbouring listed buildings and the historic Conservation Area in which it sits. We raised issues about delivery times and noise, the incomplete acoustic barrier/wall on the boundary with neighbouring residents, the colour of the new wall (a rather garish orange?) and the need for frosting film to be applied to the first floor windows to prevent overlooking from the store’s storage room into neighbours’ bedrooms and to respect their privacy.

March/April 2016: As a result of ongoing complaints from residents, I am in discussion with MDC, Radstock Cooperative, residents and others about the design and appearance of the new Co-operative store in Fromefield, and what could be done to improve it, as it is located within the Frome Conservation Area and next to three listed buildings. So far, MDC and Radco have refused to do anything. If you can help in any way, or have any issues that need to be raised, please let me know. The much more sensitive design of the new Badcox Co-op (by the Southern Co-operative) gives a bit of a contrast.

Good news – the windows of the first floor of the store were finally ‘frosted’ by Radco in May, so the neighbours’ privacy is now being respected.

May 2016: After complaints from residents, I recently attended a meeting with residents and Radco about the appearance of the new Co-operative store in Fromefield. We are waiting to hear back as to what could be done to improve things. If you can help or have any issues that need to be raised, please let me know.

September 2016: 

I met with the Radstock Co-op’s managing director with local residents in May to discuss our concerns about the design and appearance of the Co-op store and its impact it on the setting of neighbouring listed buildings and the Conservation Area within which it sits. I and local residents continue to ask Radco to discuss improving the look of the store to blend it in more with its surroundings to enhance rather than detract from the area, but they have refused, stating that the costs of replacing the metal panels are prohibitive. Please let me know if you would like to come to a residents’ meeting to discuss this further.

It is also apparent that delivery lorries have not always been conforming to the requirement in the developer’s own planning approved Service Management Statement for articulated lorries to both enter and exit the car park in forward gear (which their consultants calculated was possible, with a swept path analysis reported in the approved Highways Impact Statement). I have heard reports of articulated lorries blocking traffic and causing delays in Fromefield while they reverse in and out, and also a report of lorry parking directly outside the store while waiting to enter, which means drivers had to manoeuvre around it with no sight of oncoming traffic. I have asked Radco to assure me that these issues are not continuing. I will be reporting it Mendip’s planning enforcement team and Somerset Highways if they are. Please let me know if you have seen or have photos of lorries reversing or can help in any other way.

Photos:

After demolition, before construction, December 2014:

20141205_104313 50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. […] make any changes, stating that the costs of replacing the metal panels are prohibitive. Please see here for previous news, including how it got […]

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