by adamboyden on 5 January, 2018
Mendip District Council’s Draft ‘Pre-Submission’ Local Plan Part 2 is now out for public consultation until mid-February 2018 – see here (see Section 10 Town Policies, pages 18-19).
Policy FR6 proposes to allocate the large field between the end of Packsaddle Way, Innox Hill and Spring Gardens for the development of up to 100 houses. Please see the Local Plan text and map here over 2 pages here:
A planning application for 107 houses at the same site was submitted in 2013 and withdrawn in 2014 in the face of a large number of objections on a wide range of issues, and a likely refusal from the council’s planning department – please see here for details of my response. The planning application documents are also still online.
The site was proposed as a potentially suitable development site in the Issues and Options stage of Mendip’s Local Plan Part 2 in late 2015. I and local residents raised objections to this allocation on a range of issues – please see here.
Mendip’s own Sustainability Appraisal report on the Local Plan Part 2 (see here, in Appendix 5) has analysed all the proposed development sites in the Plan against 13 ‘sustainability critetria’. The appraisal for site FRO061 concludes clearly: ‘Site not suitable for development: Site is unsuitable for allocation due to its landscape impact, primarily due to its location beyond the ridge line north and west of Frome, in an area of rural character. It is also poorly related to the settlement form and is distant from many facilities and services’. The site scores ‘very poorly’ against the sustainability objectives ‘Maintain and enhance the distinctive character of settlements’ and ‘Protect and enhance the district’s landscape’, and poorly on ‘Protect and enhance the district’s built environment’ and ‘Improve access to facilities and services’. The site FRO061 is indeed not a ‘preferred option’ at all.
Policy FR6 also identifies issues of landscape/visual impact, wildlife and protected species, access, and flood risk at Spring Gardens, all of which were highlighted by the previous planning application as difficult or impossible to mitigate with this scale of development.
Having a Local Plan allocation for development will mean that planning permission is much more likely to be granted for such a development next time. The site promoters did a local consultation afternoon in St Marys Hall in July, and another event about custom build proposals for the site at the Town Hall in August (see here) which generated much interest. I had a meeting with the architects before these, but they would not show me any plans, and implied they were planning a smaller scale and more sensitively designed development than in 2013.
The promoters provided a Design Guide and Consultation Notes P2 to support their promotion of the site in the Local Plan allocation. An extract of the Design Guide here shows the draft masterplan layout, which includes for proportions of market housing, custom build and self-build plots, live-work units, a courtyard and a flood attenuation pond. Comparison with the 2013/14 planning application for 107 houses shows very little has changed in the plans except the proposed tenure.
I understand that the promoters are now preparing a planning application and are in confidential pre-application discussions with Mendip planners. The Design Guide states they have interest in the site plots and intend to build the site out in 2 – 5 years. A planning application could be submitted at any time.
It is currently assumed the vehicle access would only be from Packsaddle Way. However, much of the development would front onto Innox Hill, and the Consultation Note states access was being looked at to see if access off Innox Hill is possible. The problem with that is of course the creation of a through route (rat run) from Innox Hill through the site to Packsaddle Way and through existing residential streets not designed for such levels of traffic.
I will be discussing this further with other local councillors, and with local residents in my ward. The site itself is in the adjacent Market ward within Frome. More information will be added here when available. For a copy of the Design Guide or other reports please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.