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Consultation on social housing at Selwood Crescent Green

by adamboyden on 24 May, 2021

UPDATE 16th June: The Fair Homes project, and all sites proposed for development within it, including Selwood Crescent green, has been withdrawn in its entirety, following feedback from residents in the consultation – please see the statement from the project partners here. Thank you to everyone who responded. Your local open spaces are now safe. We now need to focus on the viable alternative and sustainable ways to increase the supply of social housing that do not involve building on green open spaces that are either valued by the community or for their ecological value (or both).

The Save Our Green Alliance local group has issued a statement that reads, ‘We are very pleased our voices have been heard and we thank the Frome Area Community Land Trust, Selwood Housing Group and Mendip District Council for listening to us and respecting our views. We consider that retaining and protecting the precious, biodiverse, health-giving, small green spaces within the town is the right decision both for now and in the long term. We would also like to thank Cllrs Adam Boyden and Drew Gardner for the support they have given us throughout. Individual and personal reasons expressing the importance of Selwood Crescent Green have often been moving, even upsetting, to listen to but the coming together of several of the green space communities to speak with one voice has been inspiring and we value the lesson learned for our children and young people who joined the campaign, that if you stand up and take part you CAN be heard. However, we are mindful that this does not resolve the pressing issue of a lack of social housing, a legacy of the poorly thought-out policies of previous governments. Nationally and locally a supply of social housing is needed and some of us will be putting in writing the suggestions we made verbally regarding where and how we think homes, both social and private, can be built to enhance, not fracture, our communities.’

Original article, 24th May:

Mendip District Council, Frome Area Community Land Trust and Selwood Housing Group have formed a new partnership, the Fair Homes Project, which aims to provide more social housing in Frome, offering fair rents for residents in most housing need. There is a pressing need for social housing in Frome. Over 500 families in the town are on the Somerset Homefinder housing register.

The partnership has identified 9 areas of land owned by Mendip District Council land it considers suitable, where up to 30 homes could be delivered. The project was announced on Monday 24th May here, and an initial online public consultation has been launched here to allow the community to have a say on whether each site is suitable.

In our area one site is included in the consultation: the green between Selwood Crescent and Mendip Drive, where four 3-bedroom houses are being proposed. This would mean the development of the public open space and removal of the large evergreen tree and several newly planted trees, but the mature oak and walnut trees would be retained, and the partnership has pledged a 3 for 1 replacement policy on trees.

The consultation website here is inviting views from local residents until 11th June. Residents’ views will be considered before any planning applications are prepared and submitted.

A proposed site plan for the four houses proposed at the Selwood Crescent site has been sent to residents with the official letter (This was delivered to residents in a small area around the green by the project team on Monday 24th May. I have asked that the letter be sent to residents in a wider area. If you do not receive this, please get in touch). It is also available at the consultation website, and is included at the end of this article.

The official letter also refers to intrusive ground site surveys being undertaken soon, to face-to-face consultations being planned once Covid restrictions are lifted, and that if the site shows development potential the project team will involve residents ‘in every stage of the consultation and planning stage’. It is also anticipated that the Fair Homes Project ‘will be presented to Mendip District Council’s Cabinet in July 2021’, for their consideration.

A resident’s campaign group the Save Our Green Alliance (SOGA) has now been started by a number of concerned residents, to help coordinate a campaign to retain the green for local people in perpetuity. All those concerned about retaining the green space can join by emailing soga.frome@gmail.com. Their first article expressing concerns about the plans has been posted here.

Drew and I support increases in social housing on suitable sites, but we are opposed to housing being developed on Selwood Crescent Green, due to the impact on this locally important open space. But what do you think? Here’s what you can do:

1. Firstly, it is vital everyone responds to the consultation in as much detail as possible including whether and how you value and use the green (if you do). Residents’ views will influence what happens next. Details of the site plan and the consultation are in the official letter (please get in touch if you do not have this).

You will need to submit your comments online in the Have Your Say section at the bottom of the Fair Homes project website here before 11th June. Alternatively you can write to: Fair Homes Project, Selwood Housing, Bryer Ash Business Park, Trowbridge BA14 8RT.

2. Come have a chat with us and your neighbours in a socially distanced manner on the green on Saturday 29th May at 10am, and again on Saturday 5th June at 10am. If more than 30 people are present, please be prepared to stand in groups of 30 or less, to ensure Covid safety rules are visibly maintained. Please also wear a mask. Children and animals are welcome.

3. To find out more and get involved, please join our online community meetings on Zoom (https://zoom.us/join):
Thursday 3rd June at 7.30pm, Meeting ID 851 2569 8430, Passcode 082043, and
Thursday 10th June at 7.30pm Meeting ID: 895 3581 0593, Passcode: 881874 (the Fair Homes Project partners have been invited to speak on the 10th).

4. If you agree with us please put the poster (see below) up in your window.

5. Let us know what you think:
– comment on the article at www.adamboyden.mycouncillor.org.uk/
– by email: cllrboyden@gmail.com and drewgardner@me.com
– by phone: 07809 284817 (Adam) and 07860 288624 (Drew)
– Facebook: Drew Gardner, Mendip District Councillor, Twitter:@cllradamboyden.

Thank you,                                                                                                           

Adam Boyden and Drew Gardner,
Liberal Democrat Mendip District Councillors for Frome College ward

Update 11th June 2021:

After two leaflets delivered, two meetings on the green and two zoom meetings with residents, I have submitted my response to the consultation below:

Consultation on social housing development at Selwood Crescent Green: Response from Mendip District Councillor Adam Boyden

I write to object to the inclusion of the land at Selwood Crescent in the Fair Homes project as a potential housing development site.

Please see below for a comprehensive list of objections which relate to the landscape character, community, recreation, public health, biodiversity, arboricultural, local and national planning policy and design elements of the proposed development, and the need for a more effective strategy for social housing provision.

  1. Development on the green would harm the character and appearance of the area, and remove the landscape scheme provided for the Northcote Estate residential area built in the 1960s.

Selwood Crescent Green is not allocated for development in the Adopted Local Plan Part 1 or the emerging Part 2, and never has been proposed for development. The green was not obtained by Mendip District Council as a potential building plot, but was created intentionally as a landscape feature and public open space for the community as part of the approved plans for the development of the Northcote Estate, when planning permission was granted by Frome Urban District Council (FUDC) in January 1964. The green would then have been transferred to the new Mendip District Council when FUDC was abolished in 1974.

The Frome Town Design Statement notes that the Northcote Estate was facilitated by FUDC in order to help attract key workers to Frome. Many of the original residents are still living here. To fill in nearly all of the green for housing now would remove a significant element of the landscape scheme implemented for this now-established residential area, and would seriously harm the character and appearance of the area. This is entirely contrary to the original intentions of the District and Town Councils’ predecessor, and the commitments made to residents over 50 years ago.

It is most unusual and unexpected for any organisation to propose to build on the green, as it shows a lack of appreciation of the historical development and character of this part of Frome.  

2. The consultation has revealed that Selwood Crescent Green is valued and used, actively and currently, for recreation by members of the community of all ages, and has been used for large communal gatherings.

The consultation materials do not give the reasons for Selwood Crescent green being chosen as a suitable potential housing plot for four homes, but it is assumed that the project team considers it ‘under-utilised’ Council-owned land and therefore suitable to build on. The many and detailed responses to the consultation include testimonies from a large number of local residents which clearly demonstrate that this is far from the case.

I also now understand from comments from the project team at meetings that there has been no consideration of the use of the area by the community, and that the site was identified purely due to its size and potential for development, considering the general need for social housing.

Residents’ responses reveal that the green is valued and used, actively and currently, by members of the community of all ages – young children, teenagers, adults and senior residents, local families, for quiet reflection and recreation, to help recover from illness, and to play football, rounders and cricket, host informal social gatherings, parties, and meet with friends and family. It is a place where parents and grandparents can have confidence that children can play safely very close to where they live, with their friends, parents and grandparents, as originally intended over 50 years ago. There is also no MDC sign prohibiting ball games, unlike several other open spaces in the area.

The green’s nature and location also means it has served as a meeting place for major communal gatherings, including carol singing, street parties and fundraising events. It can do so again once Covid restrictions are lifted; residents are now planning a street party to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

To remove such a valued green space is clearly unacceptable to local residents. I have received over 30 responses, with all but one objecting to the development. I have asked every respondent to respond using the official consultation website or by email or post, so you will have received many more. Residents have put a banner up on the green, and many residents including children have added their thoughts and photographs – showing evidence of use and how much they value the green. Responses I have received and photographs from the green are attached to my emailed response. A number of residents have also said they would lie down in front of bulldozers to stop any building development, such is the strength of feeling.

I understand this is a genuine consultation which aims to find out whether each site is suitable to develop, and that residents’ genuine feedback on how valuable the green is to them should make a difference to your decision on whether to proceed with a development here or not. I hope the feedback from residents is very clear

3. Selwood Crescent Green has the potential to be designated Asset of Community Value and/ or a Town/Village Green, which demonstrates that it should not be built on.

The local community considers the green to be an asset of community value. It would appear there is evidence that it would meet the criteria for formal designation as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act 2011 according to Mendip District Council guidelines. The green has an actual current primary use as open space that furthers the social wellbeing and social interests (for recreation) of the local community, which you can see from residents’ responses. I understand that an application is being prepared by a group of more than 21 local residents to formally register it as such with MDC in the next few weeks.

There also appears to be clear evidence that the green has been actively used for recreation for over 20 years (55 years). As such it would appear to have the potential to meet the criteria for designation as a Town or Village Green under the Commons Act 2006. I understand that an application could also be prepared by a number of local residents to formally register it as such with Somerset County Council.

These potential designations will demonstrate that building on the green is not appropriate

4. Building on urban green spaces also goes against the findings and advice of a wide range of bodies including World Health Organisation and Public Health England, which recognise the importance of close access to green spaces for the physical and mental health and wellbeing of local communities.

The World Health Organisation’s 2016 report Urban Green Spaces and Health – a Review of Evidence concludes,The evidence shows that urban green space has health benefits, particularly for economically deprived communities, children, pregnant women and senior citizens. It is therefore essential that all populations have adequate access to green space …’. Urban green spaces provide ‘many public health benefits through diverse pathways, such as psychological relaxation and stress reduction, enhanced physical activity, and mitigation of exposure to air pollution, excessive heat, and noise as well as other harmful factors in the urban environment. …’. It points out that enhanced physical activity can lead to improved fitness and reduced obesity, and refers to UK studies that show improved mental health and well-being with reduced levels of stress as a result of living in greener areas compared to areas with poorer availability of green space.

It identifies a need for small open spaces –‘The available evidence suggests that there is also a need for small, local green spaces very close to where people live and spend their day, as well as large green spaces, offering formal provisions such as playing fields, and opportunities to experience contact with nature and relative solitude.’

On the loss of green space in urban areas, WHO concludes, ‘Loss and degradation of urban green space can contribute to the burden of disease exacerbating the effects of other adverse factors in the urban environment, such as inequalities, air pollution, noise, chronic stress and insufficient physical activity.’

Public Health England’s report ‘Improving access to greenspace: A new review for 2020’ identifies greenspace as ‘increasingly being recognised as an important asset for supporting health and wellbeing. … Evidence shows that living in a greener environment can promote and protect good health, and aid in recovery from illness and help with managing poor health. People who have greater exposure to greenspace have a range of more favourable physiological outcomes. Greener environments are also associated with better mental health and wellbeing outcomes including reduced levels of depression, anxiety, and fatigue, and enhanced quality of life for both children and adults. Greenspace can help to bind communities together, reduce loneliness, and mitigate the negative effects of air pollution, …

However, population growth and consequent urbanisation combined with competing demands for land use and budgetary constraints, are putting much of our existing local, accessible greenspace under threat. This report makes the case that we must not lose sight of our growing population’s need for it…..’

It goes on to state, ‘some recent valuations have estimated that: £2.1 billion per year could be saved in health costs if everyone in England had good access to greenspace, due to increased physical activity in those spaces; … in England and Wales, houses and flats within 100 metres of public greenspace are an average of £2,500 more expensive than they would be if they were more than 500 metres away – an average premium of 1.1% in 2016, suggesting that the public places a value on being near to greenspace.’

It states ‘Local authorities play a vital role in …  improving, maintaining and protecting existing greenspace’. PHE’s report includes as its first ‘policy’, ‘Consider local green (and blue) space to be critical assets for maintaining and supporting health and wellbeing in local communities. The evidence base linking health and greenspace is compelling and encourages fresh thinking about the way these spaces can help meet local priorities.’.

I also agree with a recent article by FACLT Director Cllr Clarke (‘The challenge of providing social housing and  protecting our green spaces’) that some green spaces have greater value than others and that ‘It is crucial to recognise there are green spaces that can offer substantive benefit to the community, which have to be protected.’

The responses from residents demonstrate that Selwood Crescent Green valuable to the community because it benefits their health and wellbeing for the reasons identified. The development of any local green spaces could therefore have adverse impacts on the local community’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.

The Fair Homes Project would go against very strong official advice to protect local green space, wherever it reduces the availability of and access to local green spaces. It should therefore remove Selwood Crescent Green, and other local green spaces that are used and valued by the local community, from the development list.

5. Any planning application for development on valued and used public open spaces such as Selwood Crescent Green and others would go against Local Plan policy and raise significant and sustained objections, and is unlikely to succeed.

Mendip’s Adopted Local Plan 2014 at paragraph 6.148 states that the council’s default position is that ‘playing fields and other public open spaces are safeguarded from development. However, opportunities and circumstances sometimes arise where development proposals do seek to make use of public open spaces and the wider community benefits may be worthwhile. In such circumstances, the Council will ensure that the overall estate of public open space is not diminished to a level where local standards are not met, or in a manner that means the accessibility of varied types of open space to the local community falls short of play strategy standards.’

Local Plan Policy DP16: Open Space and Green Infrastructure states in its first paragraph: ‘Development resulting in the loss of existing open, sport or recreational space, including allotments will not be permitted unless:

i. It can be demonstrated that there is an excess of recreational or open space in the settlement and the proposed loss would not result in a current or likely shortfall during the plan period; or

ii. Suitable alternative recreational or open space, which is adjudged to be of equal or greater benefit to the community as compared with the space which is to be lost, is provided in an accessible location. ….’

Given that no alternative recreation space can be provided in the project, the question is whether there is an excess of open space in Frome and whether the loss would result in a current or likely shortfall. The latest assessments of the need and provision of open space in Mendip District which would be used to judge this appear to be the MDC Open Space Study and Open Space Technical Paper, both dated 2012. The Open Space Technical Paper identifies Selwood Crescent green as an ‘informal play area’ on a map of page 3.

The conclusions of the Technical Paper summarised in the Open Space Study in para 4.15 is that ‘Frome is identified as having an overall surplus of 3.45ha of open space but a deficit in informal play space of 0.54ha.’. So if the 2012 study is relied upon, there was an excess of open space in general but a deficit in Frome of the type of open space that would be lost to the project, which the loss of Selwood Crescent green and other informal play spaces would worsen.

However, the 2012 is also substantially out of date. MDC is currently updating its open space assessment and no report is available of this work (MDC Planning Policy officer, pers. comm. June 2021). Frome has been subject to additional population growth in the last 9 years, an increase of 7.6% from a population of 26,186 in 2008 (used for the 2012 Open Space studies) to 28,168 (mid-2019 estimates from ONS) and has seen new residential areas created (some with local open spaces) and some losses of open space (e.g. at the Old Showfield). If the population increase and no change to open space provision are assumed (as there is no current estimate), Frome would now have a deficit of 1.1 hectare of open space overall, which the loss of Selwood Crescent green and other informal play spaces would worsen.

It therefore cannot be clearly ‘demonstrated that there is an excess of recreational or open space in the settlement and the proposed loss would not result in a current or likely shortfall during the plan period’ as Policy DP16 would require. Under policy DP16, we must conclude that development resulting in the loss of existing open space should ‘not be permitted’.

6. National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) policy is that existing open spaces and recreation land should not be built on.

The NPPF is clear about the importance of protecting open space for the health and wellbeing of local communities, stating in paragraphs 96 and 97:

’96. Access to a network of high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and physical activity is important for the health and well-being of communities. Planning policies should be based on robust and up-to-date assessments of the need for open space, sport and recreation facilities (including quantitative or qualitative deficits or surpluses) and opportunities for new provision. Information gained from the assessments should be used to determine what open space, sport and recreational provision is needed, which plans should then seek to accommodate.

‘97. Existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including playing fields, should not be built on unless: a) an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space, buildings or land to be surplus to requirements …’

As demonstrated above in relation to the Local Plan, it cannot be demonstrated that the open space at Selwood Crescent Green is ‘surplus to requirements’, and there are currently no ‘robust and up-to-date assessments of the need for open space, sport and recreation facilities (including quantitative or qualitative deficits or surpluses)’ on which to base a decision to build on open spaces. Under the NPPF paragraph 96, this existing open space ‘should not be built on’.  Development on open spaces that are actively used and valued by the local community cannot be justified under the NPPF or our Adopted Local Plan

7. Development would also contravene the Frome Town Design Statement.

The Frome Town Design Statement (adopted by MDC as a Supplementary Planning Document) Policy L3 Green Spaces states ‘Existing areas of public open space should be retained and managed appropriately. Adequate provision of green/open space should form part of new developments.’

The Design Statement identifies Selwood Crescent green as an ‘Other important green space within development limit’ on the Landscape, public spaces and open spaces plan on page 44. The neighbourhood is described under Zone 23: Packsaddle, in which it is stated under ‘Issues’, ‘There is an important network of green space running through the area which needs to be retained and fully used.’.

The loss of Selwood Crescent’s green space (and others) would therefore also contravene this adopted SPD policy.

8. The mature walnut and oak trees will be put at risk.  

Arboricultural advice should have been obtained before proposals to develop the site were presented for this public consultation (currently this is shown in the consultation site plan as ‘TBC’).

There are concerns that the old walnut tree is likely to be affected by damage to its roots from building work so close to it, and that the oak tree may suffer from its location within a private garden.

Currently I and residents consider the trees to be at risk due to the development encroaching on their Root Protection Areas (RPA). For single stem trees, in British Standard BS 5837:2012 Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations, the RPA should be calculated as an area equivalent to a circle with a radius 12 times the stem diameter.

The common walnut tree girth at 1.5m is 2.5m. The RPA = 12 x 2.5 = 30m therefore the minimum radius of the RPA is 15m. The English oak tree girth at 1.5m is 1.8m. The RPA = 12 x 1.8 = 21.6m therefore the minimum radius of the RPA 15m. The RPAs for both trees overlap with the nearest pair of proposed houses.

BS5837:2012 states that the ‘default position should be that structures are located outside the RPAs of trees to be retained’. It appears that they will not be. The houses and gardens of the proposed houses would also be shaded by the walnut and the oak, so there would be inevitably pressure from residents to reduce and remove the trees.

These are important trees for the neighbourhood that must be retained, and it appears there is not room to develop houses here as well as to fully protect these trees.

9. Local contact with biodiversity would be reduced.

Residents state that the green is home to a variety of wildlife, including foraging (and possibly roosting) bats, owls and other nesting birds, and squirrels. Trees of this age are host to a large number of species and as such an ecological appraisal should be carried out, including a bat survey.

The WHO’s Urban Green Spaces Review of Evidence (2016) suggests that pro-environmental behaviour can be induced by experiencing natural environments, particularly during childhood. It follows that removing green spaces will have the opposite effect.

10. Highways concerns.

There are concerns in relation to highways access to new properties at the bend of the road, and highways advice will need to be obtained.

11. Building on green spaces in Frome would provide only a very limited contribution to meeting local social housing needs.

The project’s identified need for social housing is for around 500 homes for people registered with Somerset Homefinder that state a preference for living in Frome. The whole Fair Homes project would provide up to 30 homes, just 6% of that need. If the 30 are built, the need for social housing will not end, the problem will not be solved, housing need will continue to rise unless a whole raft of other measures are taken. There may be pressure to develop yet more urban green spaces. The harmful impacts from losing local green open spaces appear to be disproportionate compared to the limited benefits of the project.  

The consultation has rightly identified the need for more social housing. But it offers a harmful, short-term, small ‘solution’ that is inadequate to tackle the size of the problem. Instead, the project partners should be working on an ambitious and positive strategy to tackle the issue in several and effective ways, without building on valuable urban green spaces.

12. Suitable alternative less harmful housing development sites and means of delivering social housing have not been fully explored.

The need to build homes on urban green spaces in Frome has been presented entirely in a vacuum, with the message that this is the only way to provide much needed social rented homes in Frome. It is presented as a moral argument, with no detail, background or context to explain how large or small a contribution the project could make to meeting the identified need, in parallel with other means of delivery or a broader strategy. To understand the context and need for the project, I have asked Mendip District Council the following:

1. How much social housing is there in Mendip and Frome?
2. What is the current demand and need for social housing in Frome and Mendip?
3. What are the recent and current trends in social housing provision into the future, including contributions from developments in the planning ‘pipeline’?
4. How much (and what proportions of) social housing is being provided through Section 106 agreements negotiated with private developers in line with Local Plan policy, and by Housing Associations and others directly?
5. What is the gap between Local Plan policy compliance and actual delivery by developers?
6. Would 100% policy compliance be sufficient to meet local needs for social housing?
7. How can we increase policy compliance?
8. Do we employ a S106 Officer, and if not, would it help if we did?
9. What are the current numbers of social homes likely to be provided in the tranche 1 sites approved by Cabinet in November 2020, and potentially at North Parade in Frome?
10. What are the current numbers of social homes likely to be provided by sites with planning permission or Local Plan Part 2 allocation in Frome, including Edmund Park, Caxton Road, Sandys Hill Lane, and the Keyford allocations?
11. What alternative additional delivery models for social housing have been or could be considered? I am aware that Phoenix Board has commissioned reports and considered these in confidential sessions, and that some potential alternatives exist. Will these be included in the Cabinet paper to inform public debate?
12. What is the potential to purchase of land (by MDC or its Housing Company)?
13. How many empty properties are there are in Mendip, what are the trends?
14. What is being done to have them reoccupied as homes?
15. Do we have an Empty Homes officer, and if not, would it help if we did?
16. Can MDC or its Housing Company purchase empty properties and turn them into homes?
17. Can we invest in new partnerships with other landowners (public and private) and developers at suitable sites, including existing brownfield sites, and potentially suitable greenfield sites owned by other public authorities?
18. Are sites in SCC ownership being looked into, such as at Packsaddle Way in my ward (land gifted to SCC for the development of a school several years ago, which was put forward at an early stage in MDC’s Local Plan Part 2 for the potential development of 90 homes, but later withdrawn).
19. Are there otherwise suitable development sites which suffer from development constraints which MDC could overcome using its powers or through applying for Homes England funding.
20. Can we invest in additional social housing provision at sites MDC already has a stake in. such as Saxonvale?
21. Before we justify building on open spaces valued by our local communities, can we  review the above information, and form a clear strategy with an achievable target for social housing provision, and how the viable alternative policies can contribute to meeting such a target.
22. Is the paper coming to Cabinet (via Scrutiny) simply proposing to progress the Fair Homes Project in Frome, or does it look at a wider review and strategy for social housing? Can I propose we do the latter?

I understand the need to increase the provision of social housing, and this consultation has rightly drawn attention to the need to tackle housing needs in Frome. However the project currently offers only a harmful, short-term, small ‘solution’ that will not tackle the size of the problem. I look forward to the project team identifying suitable sites for social housing development, but Selwood Crescent Green is not one of them. The local community is responding – please listen to them. I suspect that a number of other sites identified by the project such as Farley Close, Hodders Close and in Keyford ward, are also not suitable to build on.

Building on Selwood Crescent Green, and other urban green spaces in Frome, will cause harm to the character of Frome, increase the deficit in informal green space in Frome, and affect the health and wellbeing of the local community. This is not a good way, or the only way, to provide social housing, and a broader, more effective long-term strategy is required.

Adam Boyden

Mendip District Councillor, Frome College ward’

If you agree that this is not a suitable housing development please display the following poster in your window:

   24 Comments

24 Responses

  1. The green between Selwood Crescent and Mendip Drive is a pleasant oasis with beautiful trees. We have lived here for nearly 48 years and our children played there and now our grandchildren. My son remembers Jensen Button in his pedal car wanting to join in. Many of the residents are now in their eighties and nineties so the green is a social area for a gentle walk or a chat, they will be heartbroken if they lose it.

  2. John Harford says:

    I have left the following on the fairhomes website:
    The proposal to build houses on Selwood Crescent Green seems perverse in an age when we are, supposedly, more aware than ever of environmental issues and the need for amenity, not least to contribute to emotional and mental well-being. The green spaces in Selwood Crescent and Mendip Drive are not there by accident. When the houses were built 60 years ago the then planners appear to have been more aware of these issues than are today’s. It is difficult to believe that if this proposal goes through the other spaces, in Mendip Drive, will not follow.
    One might understand the need for plans such as this were Frome in the centre of a large conurbation with no room for expansion but, as we have seen in various large new developments in recent years, it is not. We do not even need to encroach onto more farmland to provide new developments. Saxonvale, a brown field site, has been the subject of debate for more than 25 years to my knowledge, and more than 40 according to one of my neighbours. It is an eyesore and a scandalous waste of an asset and is the obvious place to put a new housing development which could provide for all the current needs and still leave space for the other things which are frequently mooted for it. I cannot help thinking that the efforts of local planners and politicians would be better directed towards resolving the Saxonvale debacle (which it is in my opinion, perhaps it is time for a Public Inquiry) than fiddling about with tiny projects such as Selwood Crescent Green.

  3. Daphne says:

    I have left the following on the fairhomes website:
    Although we only moved to this estate 25 years ago I have been familiar with it since the 60’s. The green spaces dotted throughout are there for a purpose. The planners foresaw that children would play on them; adults gather on them; the space and greenery would enhance the whole area. It beggars belief that the planners of 50 years ago understood and built- in these benefits whilst, apparently, modern planners, in an age when much is made of the environment and the need for green spaces and community spirit to enhance the mental health of the population, seem keen to whisk them away.
    Whilst I appreciate that the average age of the Selwood Crescent resident probably puts us in the “elderly” category this is gradually changing. Older residents are, inevitably, dying or moving out and are being replaced by families again with young(er) children. And it has to be said that many of us have grandchildren who also use these green areas when they are around. They are regarded as ‘community’ spaces.
    Of course most of us, and particularly parents with grown up children, are more than aware of the need for lower cost housing for their own and other young people. But why are we not building this housing in Saxonvale, which has lain idle, to my knowledge, since the mid ‘90’s? It is conveniently close to the town centre and shops; close to rail links and to bus services; arguably the ideal situation for housing. And it does not impinge on any green areas. With thought and imagination a community could (indeed should) be built there.

    The proposed housing on the Green has a space for four parked cars and a small new road joining Mendip Drive on a bend that is already ‘dodgy’ with residents having to take great care negotiating it. What price road safety?!
    It also doesn’t say much for the ‘planning’ that goes on here when several new trees are planted shortly before we receive news that the land may be built on. So much for joined up thinking.

  4. Bryan Wilson says:

    My wife and I are relative newcommers to Frome. We have lived in this corner of the town for just 5 years. One of the many things we love about Frome is the way in which green spaces have been icorporated into the urban landscape. It gives an entirely different, more green, more friendly and more “Frome” feeling to the environment. To take one of these away would be the start of a slippery slope in our view away from the current feel of the town. PLEASE leave our green spaces

  5. Jenny Hawkes says:

    I was shocked and dismayed to hear that there are possible plans to build 4 social houses with garages on the green space at Selwood Crescent. Shocked because the green space has been there for around 60 years, I understand, and dismayed that a small but valuable area of green space, in an environment-conscious area will possibly be destroyed forever. The trees in this area are very valuable to the environment and local wildlife and are likely have TPOs on them. However, you dress it up, these trees will undoubtedly be destroyed if any disruption or damage to the roots is inflicted in order to build the houses or underground facilities. This green space has been used constantly by myself, partner, son and grandchildren who play ball on the grass and run about. It is a little oasis in a world of concrete and we cannot do without this nor should we do without it. It is the right of citizens living here to have some green space and clean air as was shown by when the houses were built. They were forward-thinking then, so why when the world is even more aware of the need for a greener environment, has someone taken it upon themselves to do quite the opposite.
    Yes, we need more social housing, but not in the midst of a beautiful estate with green areas that the residents have enjoyed for many years. The place for this is Saxonvale, not here. Almost everyone who lives here has been here for a long time and have enjoyed this area. We want our lovely piece of green land and trees to stay as they are so we can enjoy them until we can’t manage to walk there anymore. It’s a great meeting place, a place to feel the grass under our feet, marvel at the Oak and Walnut trees and play with our grandchildren in a safe environment.
    One last comment, why on earth would anyone in their right mind plant trees if it was known that this invasion of our space was likely to happen? Was it to appease us all and soften the blow? Only huge trees like the current trees on the green do any good to the air quality of our environment. The little ones recently planted have a long wait before they take effect.
    Do the right thing for the people living in this area – build somewhere else, leave our valued green space alone.

  6. Geoff Colllins says:

    I understand that there are plans to build on our little patch of green at Selwood Crescent. That green is our little oasis of communal grass in today’s desert of bricks and concrete. In our current climate of lockdown, this little area has been a lifeline to those who were unable to travel to open spaces further away. It has been a meeting place for local residents on celebratory occasions for Jubilee days and such like and has also been a meeting point for street parties and other gatherings of note. It is also the meeting point for residents opposed to this awful idea. The green has been used by so many local children, some now adults with children of their own over the years for cricket, rounders, chase and football etc. This has been a great escape from their X-boxes and Tablets and so good for their wellbeing.

    This space is used by wildlife too, due in part to the wonderful walnut tree and the oak tree. Pigeons and other birds nest in the fir trees and the oak and walnut trees being such a good food source for the wildlife that we see there. On warm summer evenings, I have heard the gentle flap of bats as they fly by on their search for flying insects that frequent the trees.

    I understand the plans are to leave the walnut tree and oak tree? Well, how they will build what is proposed without damaging them is nigh on impossible as the trees are so mature. It would also be in the builder’s ‘interest’ to damage them during the build so they could be felled at a later date and more little boxes squeezed on to the site? Planting a few 4’ tall saplings in their place is hardly Eco-friendly, is it? While on this subject, whose idea was it to plant a few saplings (a great idea) to them dig them up for these new houses? Having spoken to older residents on that small patch of green they say they remember that patch of land being left free from development so as to be free for the residents to use as they please. Why is this likely to be changed after so many years? There must be a written record of this ‘covenant’, somewhere. The age of the trees on the green makes me wonder if they have TPOs on them – if not, they should have. The CO2 levels they reduce cannot be compensated for by a few saplings that will be added when they are gone, as that is what will surely happen.
    There are the usual NIMBYs and objections to most developments, but who in their right mind thought of suggesting this development? There are plenty of other places to build houses, especially ‘social housing’ in Frome, but this is most definitely not one of them, Saxonvale immediately springs to mind. There are brownfield sites available too, but to squeeze four houses and garages in such a most inappropriate area as this is just not right and to take away one of our few green spaces left that is valued by the local residents, is so wrong. Find a place near the centre of town to build the houses, not ruin the one little ‘village green’ that is the centre of the ‘Selwood community’.

  7. Richard turner says:

    The green is a perfect site for a small social housing development. Being existing residential brownfield land it will have minimal environmental or social impact. I’ve read the comments on here but can say I’ve never seen children playing on the green in 8 years of regularly walking past at different times of day.

    I cannot see a sensible reason to object on planning grounds, and a few pigeons can find somewhere else to roost if need be.

  8. Katharine says:

    Thank you very much Adam and Drew for the communications we have had through our door today and last Friday. We greatly appreciate you making us aware of these proposals, as I wouldn’t have known about them otherwise.

    I shall be responding in more detail on the Selwood Housing site but needless to say we are horrified at the prospect of losing this beautiful green space.

  9. John Harford says:

    I have placed this additional comment on the Selwood Housing website:
    Further to my earlier comments: I live in Selwood Crescent and I am diabetic. Part of my control regime is exercise. I walk on at least 5 days every week and part of each of those walks is on Selwood Crescent Green at least once. One could argue that I could walk round the outside of the proposed houses but much of the rest of my routes is through housing, some of it fairly tightly packed, and walking on the Green lifts the spirits greatly and adds interest as one watches the evolution of the trees and other plants through the seasons.
    I still struggle with the logic of this proposal. In 2018 the Government published The Green Space Preservation Act which recognises the importance of parks and green infrastructure for people’s health and wellbeing. It includes a commitment to green towns and cities. It appears that planning rules now require the inclusion of green space in new residential developments, which I would have thought implied a rule that, at the very least, existing ones should not be taken away. At the risk of banging on about Saxonvale again, I see that the artist’s impressions on Acorn Properties’ website lean heavily towards open spaces. Relocating my green space to Saxonvale can only have an adverse effect on my wellbeing.

  10. Tilly Kempshall says:

    I am writing to object to the planned proposal of building four houses on the green between Selwood Crescent and Mendip Drive.
    Having lived in Mendip Drive for six years, I have used the green to play with friends, as well as making new friends in the local area. Now I’m sixteen, I use the green as a safe outside space to catch up with my friends, close to home, in a socially distanced manner. Since the pandemic, and online education, the green has been vitally important to me as a meeting place. Not only benefitting myself and my friends, but neighbours too.
    At school, I have learned (and also through all avenues of media), how important green spaces are for mental well-being. To me, this area has most definitely benefitted mine, and I strongly believe it would be a backwards step to remove this area.
    Whilst I understand the need for social housing in Frome, I do not feel that removing green spaces used by the local community is the answer. I am aware of other areas, such as Saxon Vale, that has been disused for many years. This is an area that could be used to help provide social housing to the local community, with close proximity to the town centre. Surely this is a better option?
    Regards

  11. Shaun Kempshall says:

    I am emailing to object to the proposed plans for 4 social houses to be built on the green between Mendip Drive & Selwood Crescent. As a resident of Mendip Drive the green is an open space that provides many benefit to the local community. My own children used to use the green to play on with friends, now teenagers, they use the green to sit and chat with their friends. Which during the pandemic and isolation through online education has been very important. The more elderly residents have also use the green for that very same reason. I am appalled to think that a used green space that benefits the mental and physical wellbeing of local residents could be lost. With such emphasis on our mental health and the benefits that open spaces bring this seems to me to be a backward step. The planners of years ago had the foresight to include green spaces and yet today there are proposals to remove it .
    With Frome being an ever popular market town to live in and make your home, I do appreciate the need to provide social housing and the dilemma this brings, however loosing an established green space is not the solution.
    Frome has areas such as Saxonvale or East Hill where further consideration should take place . Both sites have the potential to dramatically reduce the social housing crisis Frome finds itself in. Removing small green spaces around the town used and enjoyed by local residents is not the way forward. Also with large housing companies building many houses in Frome, perhaps the council should be enforcing an increase in the amount of social housing they build .
    Apart from the obvious impacts on removing the majority of the green we also need to bear in mind that this will increase the traffic and likely to have more on street parking taking place, which on a busy bend is adding a risk.
    Please listen to the voices of local residents of Frome and invest your time in looking at other more suitable and appropriate options.

  12. Alyson Kempshall says:

    I am contacting you to express my concerns over the proposal to build 4 houses on the green between Mendip Drive and Selwood Crescent. Whilst I fully appreciate the need to provide social housing in Frome the green is not an appropriate solution.
    Frome has green spaces designated for a reason, they provide local children and local families areas to get together . This has been evident during the pandemic where my own children have used the green to meet with their friends in a public safe place. Not to mention the loss of habitat to birds, bats and hedgehogs, and possible loss (most likely due to their roots) of the Walnut and Oak tree.
    In a time where mental health and well being are so prevalent the loss of the green to local residents would be devastating. I would also like to point out that a green space doesn’t have to be constantly used or played upon to benefit mental health . Just by having the green space is helpful for positive mental health and wellbeing.
    Frome has other areas where houses would be more appropriate. The Saxonvale site has sat idle for years. This is a prime site close to the local amenities which could make a significant dent in the social housing crisis Frome finds itself in. Also large housing companies are continually building in Frome and its outskirts, surely during negotiations wouldn’t it be forward thinking to enforce more social housing is provided , other than the bare minimum!
    Frome has pockets of green space used by local residents, please do not think they are not used or needed. They are valuable to those they serve.

  13. Andy Scudamore says:

    With regards to the proposed Selwood Crescent/Mendip drive community green space development feasibility study, I understand that there is a need to investigate the suitability of parcels of unused land that could be used to provide housing for people in need of social housing. I have lived adjacent to the green for over 20 years and throughout that time it has been a valued space that has been maintained both by the council and the local residents for all to enjoy. The green has been used throughout that time by many people both young and old and is a vital oasis of calm in an increasingly busy world. My personal experiences include many family fun times with my wife, children, late parents and extended family, these experiences would also be similar for other members of the local community. Any perceived lack of use that may have been fed back would be as a result of the national lockdowns and the fact that the various people that attended for surveys etc were during the winter months, now that restrictions have lifted and the weather has improved I can see from my house that the green has come back to life as it always does.
    There are many emotional reasons why a development would not be in anyone’s best interests. Attempting to solve one problem would create more damage to vulnerable people both young and old.
    Probably of equal importance would be the plan to use land, that was always designed as open green space for something it was originally not intended. I have consulted my original copy of the plan for all the building plots in the area and this area has clearly been left as a green landscaped area without any plots allocated, the original planning consent letter for the estate dated 21st January 1964 states that a landscaping and planting scheme needs to be implemented within the agreed plan and the trees and or shrubs shall be protected, maintained and replaced as necessary , I would think that this would mean that the intention of the original planning consent was to prevent the loss of the allocated green spaces within the plan.
    I have concerns about the feasibility of managing to maintain the very large walnut and Oak trees within the development, the walnut tree looks to be much too close to the adjacent buildings and its root spread would almost certainly be damaged and the future of the tree endangered. The plan also shows the oak tree entirely within the garden of one of the properties covering the entire garden of one and part of the other, although already a substantial tree it will continue to grow much larger towards maturity leading to its inevitable loss. The green is also home to a variety of wildlife including various nesting birds, squirrels, an owl.
    Hopefully the amount of people that turned out on the green on Saturday 29th May,(many elderly) at short notice, to express their concerns to the councillors etc, is evidence enough to show that although the desire to address the issue of housing for the most vulnerable is a very important and worthy cause, the destruction of another part of the community is not the way to achieve it. I hope that you are successful in finding other suitable land; unfortunately this green community space is not in my view suitable.

  14. Hannah Scudamore says:

    I am writing in regards to the proposal for Selwood/Mendip drive green.
    This is a very valued area which has been going through the whole circle of life. We still have a few original residents that bought plots in the 1960’s, with their children and grand children now grown, they are enjoying the space for a gentle walk and exercise. When out near the green, people stop and chat to others which is so important when so many of us are feeling lonely and isolated, it gives this area a feel of community and belonging. All of this is incredibly important for our mental health and wellbeing. Some families like my own have lived here 20 years or more, with our own children using the green, being a safe spot for those very important first steps to their own independence. Playing with friends and making new friends with others who lived close by and some of these friendships have carried on into adulthood. I am looking forward to seeing my grandchildren having the same opportunities of a bit of freedom and entertaining themselves building their imaginative world which are all incredibly important first steps of life. We now have a few new families moving in and children are back on the green, learning to ride their bikes or kicking a ball with friends and family and of course rushing to the walnut tree on a windy day in September to collect those all important nuts.
    This green space is valued so much that the local people keep it clean and tidy and two kind locals cut the grass so children can play as the council have been cutting it less frequently.
    The beautiful walnut tree is very loved by me and my family, it looks amazing all year round and the wild life adores it too. It has many nesting birds in holes of the trunk and in its branches. The bird song is a loud and cheerful reminder of the importance of nature. In the Ecology report it states [where feasible existing mature trees should be retained} the planned houses will most definitely harm the tree by damaging its roots and lots of the wildlife will be lost.
    The oak tree will be lost to the community completely, as it is totally included in the garden of one of the houses. How can this much loved young oak tree ever flourish, when it has not been given the space to grow!
    Last year when the council did not cut the grass it was a real concern to the community and a few of the neighbours did some contacting to find out why and what the plan was and kept us informed of any information they came across. The same when we noticed surveyors and people examining the trees, they were questioned by the community as to what was happening, so much community interest and wildlife shows we all really cherish this place.
    With all this going on, there is no way you can say it is an unused green!
    To go ahead with the development will solve one problem and cause lots of others, as these areas are so important to our mental health.

  15. Ella Kempshall says:

    I am contacting you, as I live in Mendip Drive and I am aware of the proposed plans to build four houses on the Mendip Drive/Selwood Crescent green. Whilst I appreciate Frome is becoming a popular town to live in and house prices are high I do not believe removing green spaces used by the local community ”my local community” is the solution. I have used the green over recent years with friends and during the pandemic have used the space to catch up with my friends. The green has many uses to local residents, as well as wildlife which have made the green their home. I have seen squirrels, bats and birds who live there and the loss of the green would impact the wildlife and the loss of the walnut and oak tree would be devastating. Frome has some small pockets of open green spaces and these should be saved, they are part of the character and Frome and one of the reasons why it is rated as a desirable place to live. Please do not make Frome a concrete town, with little regard for its local born and bred residents. Frome has other areas more appropriate for social housing, such as Saxonvale. For years the land has remained disused, a dangerous area where children without green spaces play. Surely this would be a better solution, please think again the green is precious to me and my neighbours.

  16. Catherine Scudamore says:

    I am writing in regards to the proposal for Selwood/Mendip drive green development.

    As a child I grew up living opposite the green. I have so many happy memories there. We would make dens, climb in the trees. I remember collecting walnuts from the walnut tree with all the neighbours . we even used to do a community easter egg hunt for all the children in the road. I always remember playing with all the other children from the neighbourhood on the green, it was such a part of our childhood. It breaks my heart thinking the children living in the area now could miss out on this and we could loose the sense of commnuity in Mendip drive . Frome is known for its community spirit please don’t take away Mendip drives community spirit.

  17. Victoria Scudamore says:

    I am writing to express my concerns regarding the proposed plans to build four houses on ‘The Green’ between Mendip Drive and Selwood Crescent.

    Growing up in a house overlooking the green I have many happy memories of times spent there. The Green provides an amazing space for young people and adults alike to spend time outdoors, just a stones throw away from their front door.

    Particular memories of the green include the yearly anticipation of the walnut season in the autumn and the joy of waking up after a windy night and collecting bags of walnuts to share. The green also provided an ideal location for den making, easter egg hunts and igloo building. Although these activities may seem trivial in their essence, on reflection I can see how important they were for my development and happiness as a child.

    I feel surveying the green during COVID restrictions gives an unfair representation of the true usage of the green. And when at my parents house I regularly see children playing as well as adults using the green for walking, running and other activities.

    In addition to this we need to look into the future and to see the impact building on our green spaces will have. I had always looked forward to one day bringing my own children to the green reliving these memories by playing games and collecting walnuts.

    If this proposed development proceeds I would worry about the impact on the effect on the wellbeing of those who use the green. This will be a loss of an essential community space that brings the local people together and I can clearly see the significant impact these will have on people’s physical health and mental well-being.

  18. Teresa Sully says:

    With regards to the proposal, there are many reasons why this area should remain an open community space. While there are other green areas on this estate, this one particularly serves the residents of this corner. It is a reasonably safe place for children to play; also with the trees etc it introduces young children to wildlife and the environment.

    When the estate was planned the provision of green spaces was incorporated into the plans (planners ahead of their time maybe) with the intention they would always be there to enhance the life of residents.

    I believe it was designated as a wilding area last year and a local resident mowed it himself. Furthermore only very recently 5 trees were planted and then replanted . Why does a council spend money on this, then just a few months later decide to destroy this and turn the area into a property development? It makes no sense.

    Re: the trees that are to remain (as indeed they should ) the root systems of both oak and walnut are known to be wide spreading and strong and indeed known to cause problems in buildings. These roots would obviously be damaged by the building work for the proposed development. This may cause the death of said trees therefore the plans for them to remain is far from reassuring.

    Finally on two sides of the site the road curves and even at present can be hazardous to negotiate because of parked cars; the number of cars would only increase with more houses and make it even more dangerous.

    Regarding the provision of social housing, should this not be incorporated into the plans of the various large new developments which are taking place, and a check made that they are actually built? This would ensure that residents are not deprived of established community/recreation greens.

  19. Joanne Pavey says:

    Here is a copy of our response:
    We live in Mendip Drive, directly opposite one of the greens (Selwood) on which you propose to build 4 units.

    We, as a family oppose this proposal as we, along with the rest of our neighbours, rely on that space for so much.

    We are a mutli-generational family, there are two children, two adults and one Grandma sharing this house. We totally understand the need for social housing in Frome, I myself have been on the Home finder list for over a year and expect to be on it for a long time. However, this is not the answer. I know from living here with my mother for last 5 years how many people rely on this space, including ourselves.
    I’m pleased that you are making social housing a priority but please, not at the expense of green spaces such as these needed and utilised by the local children, elderly and vulnerable.

    The proposal would take away this green space that we and many others in this community vitally need.

    We and the children who live here, aged 6 and 9, use that space often, for all sorts of activities, including:

    Exercises like running and playing tag, practising cycling, scootering and skating in a safe place that doesn’t involve crossing busy roads.
    We climb the trees, play hide and seek and fly kites and drones. We have built snowmen, launched rockets and also enjoy spending restorative time simply laying around in the grass and listening to the many birds that live in the big beautiful trees.

    I have a health condition that means I can’t venture too far out at times and I don’t drive.
    The green has been my sanctuary in nature and enabled me to supervise the kids playing close to home.

    My mum (Grandma) has osteoporosis and other conditions that limit how far she can walk. So she will often use walking round the green as her exercise.

    I see many, many people enjoying the green in similar ways, especially during lockdown and the frequent nods of hello to each other has helped us all feel less isolated.

    I can not believe that the council would even dare to try and take our green space away from us at a time when the importance of green spaces and nature has proved to be invaluable to communities for health and well being. I am concerned about the impact on the wildlife, I see many birds making their nest in those trees, I have also seen bats, butterflies and bees. I also don’t understand why you would want to disrupt the newly planted trees or the beautiful existing Oak, Walnut and Leylundii.

    Especially for such a tokenistic amount of social housing that surely could be allocated elsewhere in some of the bigger building projects going ahead around Frome. Even if you built the 30 homes on our green spaces you still have a shortfall of 470 homes, we need to think again and as local and active residents we would love to help you find somewhere else more suitable without disrupting and impacting on this community.

    We will be opposing this scheme alongside other neighbours and residents of the area for the duration, we will not be just a storm in a tea cup for couple of weeks. We are also united with the other communities around Frome and refuse to be played off against each other. We urge you to think again.

    Thank you for consulting with us, I’m sure we can come up with a better, less disruptive, fairer, long term solution.

  20. john Boxall says:

    Adam,

    I got your letter about the proposed development at Selwood Crescent.

    Four points I might make

    1. Whatever and Wherever Mendip develops Social Housing it should be to the highest standards in terms of energy efficiency & sustainability. In addition to this the properties should be excluded from ‘Right to Buy’ if possible

    2. It seems to me that Mendip having decided to build more Social Housing – which I entirely support has then decided to put it in some of the worst possible places in terms of social and environmental damage – Easthill (The site by Frome Cemetery) here & Broadway Allotments. The obvious question must be why not build more Social Housing on Saxonvale, a site that NEEDS development. There are also some scrubby fields between Leys Lane & Packsaddle which, if they are used for anything is Fly Grazed horses and I understand is owned by Somerset County Council, why not develop these?

    3. There are may housing problems at the moment but may I suggest that Mendip includes a condition in all future planing permissions that properties are for owner occupation only, no second homes or buy to lets?

  21. Daphne Harford says:

    I have just put the following post on the Selwood Housing website.
    A lot has been said about whether or not the residents of Selwood Crescent and Mendip Drive “use” Selwood Green. No one has made any attempt to define how one might use a green space. A tree lifts the spirits – but does one use it? Blossom makes us all feel more cheerful, but do we “use” it? The fact is that the simple presence of a small area of green grass and mature and new trees lifts the spirits. In that sense it is not necessary to have a picnic or a party on the Green for it to be beneficial to all who can see it. I walk past it regularly. I did so this morning on my way to the Post Office in McColls. Both my children and grandchildren live abroad. I regularly post to them in an attempt to keep in touch. I haven’t seen them for over 18 months due to the pandemic and I think I can be forgiven for sometimes feeling a bit depressed and tearful. But I was aware as I walked alongside the green that I definitely felt cheered. Simply by being there the Green has an effect. No one would deny that my walk back through the old Cheese Show ground was likely to cheer me up – so why not our little green oasis.

  22. John Warman says:

    Response sent to Selwood Housing, copied to FALCT, Cllr Pinnock MDC Housing Portfolio & on Selwood Housing Website
    I have received your letter of 24th May 2021 regarding the feasibility study that is now in progress. Understand that this is an early consultation stage and the next steps will take into account the feedback received. The deadline for feedback is short and an extension was requested, my email of 25th May 2021 refers. However as I have not had a response to my request I am submitting this response by the original deadline, but I am conscious that there are additional points and detail that could have been usefully added.

    Although the response timescale is short I understand that you have already had a considerable number of responses, with many people voicing concerns about the proposed loss of green spaces in Frome and Selwood Crescent green in particular. Further research into national and local policies and the legal position is planned. My initial feedback is given below,

    Problem – Lack of Social Housing

    There is a shortage of social housing and affordable housing, not only in Frome, but nationally. The shortage is affected by national policies and in Mendip by the lack of prioritising the building of social houses for decades.

    Reportedly there are about 500 families seeking social housing and clearly a significant number of additional houses are needed. Finding space for new houses is problematic and to have significant numbers of social houses incorporated into new estates requires cooperation of Developers.

    Proposals to Build on Green Spaces Owned by Mendip District Council

    Proposals have been made by a new partnership of Selwood Housing, Mendip District Council and Frome Area Local Community Trust to build on land owned by Mendip District Council. This has been called a Fair Homes Project and the stated mission is “To provide for local people in housing need, because everyone deserves a home.” The proposals originally covered nine sites with a total of 30 homes, one site has now been withdrawn. Clearly the total number of social houses in the proposals will not significantly alter the shortage and is a token gesture.

    Concerns & Opposition to the Proposals

    The proposal to build such a small number of houses on small plots of green space around the town would remove important green space and destroy the local environment and adversely affect the physical and mental health of so many people for so few extra homes.

    The green spaces that are proposed to now be built on were deliberately created for the long term benefit of residents and the environment. The importance of such green spaces has been recognised by many bodies, such as Public Health England, and is allegedly a concern of Mendip District Council. The COVID pandemic has further highlighted the importance of having local green spaces. Public Health England has reported in 2020 that there are positive physical and mental health benefits to anyone living within 100 meters of a green space.

    Given concern about obesity levels in children surely it is important to have areas where children can safely take active exercise and play games such as football, cricket and rounders.

    Since new estates are required to incorporate green spaces it is illogical to take away such spaces in existing estates. Indeed I understand the Local Plan includes an assessment of the amount of green area that exists and should be provided with Frome now likely to have an under provision.

    Planning permission given for the development of the existing estates included specific caveats, such as housing density and importantly in the case of Selwood Crescent green “no part of the state shall be developed as or as part of Housing Estate in public ownership”.

    Purchasers of houses on the Northcote Estate were told that the Selwood Crescent green was designated as a children’s play area. This was raised when Mendip District planted a number of trees across the green in 1994. MDC were informed about the green being designated a children’s play area, which was not on MDC’s computer records and it seems that documents from Frome Urban District Council were not available to confirm the position. However, MDC then arranged for the trees to be relocated.

    Filling in green spaces in existing residential estates is harmful to people, the environment and biodiversity. Selwood Crescent green and the mature trees on the green have a range of wildlife, insects and various birds including an Owl and Bats.

    Selwood Crescent green is demonstrably special to the local community and has been so for over 55 years. A considerable number of people use and value the green space for many reasons. Generations of children have used, and continue to use, the green for playing games. Some come from a fair distance away and many friendships have been formed by meeting on the green.

    The plans that have been received show four houses and the position of the houses would mean not just the felling of mature Leylandii, but in the process almost certainly kill the mature Walnut tree. The stated intention to retain trees “where feasible” is concerning.

    The plans show that the existing footpath on the edge of the green, which is behind Parkhill Grange, would have fences for the gardens of the proposed houses. This would create a narrow alleyway, which would be dark at night and could become “Mugger’s Alley”.

    The siting on the corner of Mendip drive to access parking spaces is considered dangerous, given the width of the road and visibility.

    Way Forward

    Given the feedback on the effects of the proposed building, the policies espoused by Mendip District Council and the legality of building social housing on the Selwood Crescent site it is hoped that the site is withdrawn sooner rather than later. The distress and anxiety being caused to local residents by these proposals is considerable, they fear the loss of their local community area not only for themselves and their children, but for the generations to come.

    The need for additional social housing in Frome and Mendip is clear. However, the proposals to build on green spaces in existing residential estates across Frome are harmful and misguided and should be withdrawn. Given there is now agreement and potential action to provide more social housing, a strategy is needed to meet the actual need. Alternative more suitable sites, some known to be in public ownership, should be sought.

    If, despite the objections raised, it is intended to continue proposing to build on the Selwood Crescent green then a number of actions will be explored to preserve the green space in perpetuity. As a first step under the Localism Act 2011, and the Community Right to Bid, a newly formed alliance, “Save Our Green Alliance”, which already has 70 members will make a formal request for the six week “window of opportunity” to consider making an application to designate the green an Asset of Community Value. Then there is a period of six months, in which the owner cannot dispose of the asset, to allow an application to be made to bid for the land. Of course there may be other options which are more favourable to secure the land. Ideally there would be an early withdrawal of proposals to build on Selwood Crescent green and other green spaces in existing residential spaces in Frome.

    John M. Warman

  23. David Warman says:

    I write in response to your “destroy green spaces” project, which you propose in the name of “fairness”.

    It’s not entirely clear that this is fair to anyone: either the existing residents who are deprived of the existing, scarce green space, or the occupants of the proposed dwellings, who will only find out what was lost after the damage is done.

    The big winner here appears to be the local developers who might get away with reduced social provision in their own plans (and wouldn’t mind if there were fewer green spaces in housing developments generally, since they will then argue against their importance in future).

    There is undoubtedly a shortage of social housing, in Frome as elsewhere. The scale of the problem needs more fundamental action than a token effort which damages the community and deprives public realm of an irreplaceable benefit.

    At this point, I should declare an interest: forty years ago, I was one of many who played on the “Selwood Crescent Green”. It was known to us as just “The Green”. It was, and has always been, an inclusive space. I wasn’t ever good at football, and wasn’t going to get into the Collegians. It didn’t matter there; it was always mixed age, and mixed ability – games played entirely for their own sake. In summer, we played cricket (with a tennis ball, and no slogging for the boundary). And I still remember when the kind gentleman from the corner mowed our wicket when the grass was getting long.

    The demographics of the area have changed over time. And they will change again. The quality of the environment we leave to future generations will be remembered. The planning errors of the past are not forgotten. And we can leave more than just apologies.

    The past year has reminded us of the importance of our local spaces, for both physical and mental well-being. They bring benefits to all generations, and should be available to all – and should be included in all housing developments, public or private.

    It may be feasible to destroy the present green space, but that does not compel you to do so. Consideration should be given to the social and environmental cost. Frome is only 1300 years old, so doesn’t have any 48000 year old artefacts to bulldoze in a fit of short-termism. And I hope you’re not as cynical as Rio Tinto. But the loss of even a half century old communal space would be felt just the same.

    David Warman

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