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Update on land at Easthill, Frome

by adamboyden on 21 March, 2021

Statement from the Mendip Liberal Democrat Group regarding land at Easthill, Frome:

Following a review of land at Easthill, Frome, the Liberal Democrat group of Mendip District Council are committed to retaining the site in Council ownership for use as cemetery extension land. The Group are therefore minded to withdraw support for any further development of the exploratory plans to develop the land as a potential site for the social and affordable housing programme. 

This position was taken in recognition of strong local concerns about the site’s ecological importance. We are grateful to the residents of Frome who shared their concerns with us and we want to make it clear that we’ve listened to all views.

For clarity, as things stand, this position is not one of a temporary nature, but one that will be maintained for the entire duration of this current administration. However, the Group acknowledges that any formal decision is one for Cabinet to take via the Council’s democratic process following the presentation of all the relevant considerations and debate.

The Liberal Democrat group will continue to work to improve the supply of much needed social and affordable housing for the people of Mendip.

ENDS

See here also.

Note: (this is not part of the Group statement, just my thoughts):

Please see previous news about the ‘pause’ here, and last month’s update on the ACV application here. The site is currently designated in Mendip’s Local Plan as an Open Area of Local Significance, and has a number of veteran and mature trees, whose root protection areas cover much of the site, protected by a Tree Preservation Order. The veteran trees (‘irreplaceable habitat’ under the National Planning Policy Framework) are on the Ancient Tree Inventory. The habitat of the site is identified as Wood pasture and Parkland ‘Priority Habitat’ – habitats for the principal importance of conserving biodiversity identified by the Secretary of State at DEFRA under section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. A number of ecological surveys commissioned by MDC had also identified the value of the site for some species (bats and reptiles). My opinion is that it would have been very difficult to secure a planning permission for a major housing development on this site without significant ecological impacts which would be contrary to national and local planning policies and legislation and the Council’s own stated corporate commitments. So I very much welcome the above announcement.

The local residents group set up to protect the site – Friends of Easthill Field – have a Facebook page here, and held a talk recently by tree expert Julian Hight about the ancient trees on site. They, and local councillors, including Berkley Down ward councillor Janine Nash, other members of Scrutiny Board, and others, have been key to getting to this point.

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