Councillor Adam Boyden

Somerset County Councillor for Frome North and Mendip District Councillor for Frome College ward (Lib Dem) Learn more

Public consultation on new housing development at Innox Hill

by adamboyden on 23 March, 2022

Local residents in the Packsaddle and Innox area have been notified by leaflet that Savills are giving a pre-application presentation of their proposals for a development of 71 new homes at Innox Hill (the ‘corner field’ adjacent to Packsaddle Way) in a meeting at 7pm on Thursday 31st March at Frome Town Hall. The presentation will be part of Frome Town Council’s Planning Committee meeting, which is both in person and online – please see here to register and for the rest of agenda. Savills will be presenting their proposals in person, and will answer questions, and want to understand residents’ thoughts to help shape their outline planning application.

If anyone is unable to join the meeting you can email innoxhill@savills.com to request copies of their plans and a feedback form, which they will send out after the meeting.

In my time as district councillor there have been two previous proposals for this site, in 2013 (for 107 houses, planning application 2013/2608/OTA – see here) and 2018 (application 2018/0256/OTA – see here), and a proposed Local Plan allocation (see here), which were all withdrawn following objections. The 2018 planning application led to a ‘Save Cuckoo Hill’ campaign by residents, see here, and objections to that application are set out here. Objections to these developments have included impacts on landscape character, poor sustainability and connectivity with Frome, highways and access, and an ‘in principle objection’ from Wessex Water due to likely nuisance for new residents from the nearby sewage works (which is a very live issue for the site’s neighbours currently suffering nuisance from flies – see here). .

Update, 1st April:

Savills gave a pre-application presentation of their proposals at Frome Town Council’s Planning Committee on 31st March (see below for the slides). Some 70 residents attended and many more watched online.

We learned that this would again be an outline application, with all matters except access reserved for later determination (although an illustrative masterplan and assessments of the proposals were being produced). Road access would be off Packsaddle Way only, with a new pedestrian access off Innox Hill. 71 homes (reduced from an initial 80) and small planted areas would be spread throughout the site, with a ‘landscape buffer’ of vegetation along the northern boundary, drainage swales along hedgerows and a flood attenuation pond next to Innox Hill. 30% (21 homes) would be defined ‘affordable’ homes in line with MDC Local Plan policy.

The Town Council’s Planning and Development Officer then gave a summary of the planning history of the site and the Town Council’s previous objection to the 2018 planning application, including that it was found by Mendip DC’s Sustainability Appraisal to not be a sustainable site for a major development, being far from facilities, and had a landscape impact on the setting of Frome, being beyond the ridgeline.

Many residents and other councillors (Town Council planning committee members Lizzie Boyle and Steve Tanner (chair), two district councillors (online) and county councillor Linda Oliver) raised concerns. No one spoke in favour. Concerns included:

  • the impact on the landscape and setting of Frome,
  • the site being outside the development boundary,
  • flood risk and sewer flooding at Spring Gardens,
  • the impact of extra traffic on Packsaddle Way (including by the children’s playground),
  • pedestrian access along Innox Hill,
  • the unaffordability of new housing, and pressure on school places,
  • the current fly nuisance from the sewage works,
  • the previous application’s Transport Management Plan was found inadequate.
  • Several also complained of the speculative nature of the proposals, that this much housing was not needed here.

The representatives from Savills responded to all the concerns, but many in the room appeared unconvinced.

I said that previous applications had generated a lot of reasons for potential refusal and that I was not sure whether the new application had addressed any of those. I noted Wessex Water’s and MDC Environmental Protection team’s previous objection to the 2018 application due to the potential to bring new residents too close to a recognised potential source of odour and fly nuisance and the high risk of fly complaints (as did FTC’s Planning officer) and asked that the applicants take the fly nuisance suffered by neighbours of the site (which was described by several residents in the room) very seriously as it affects a wide area, hundreds of residents already, as I know from over 120 responses to my survey. The applicant’s rep responded that he did not see that a current problem caused by the operation of a sewage works should be a reason to refuse a development here, as it should be dealt with by Wessex Water, and the council could agree a timescale to allow development. The applicant’s team is well aware of the problem, but when I asked if Wessex Water had been consulted (as a senior manager at Wessex had not), he saw nothing to be gained by consulting them before submission. Another councillor said it would be irresponsible to develop this site near a sewage works when the fly nuisance has not yet been resolved.

I asked whether soil/ground surveys had been undertaken, as residents have talked of difficult ground conditions for building houses at the top of the hill at Packsaddle Way. Answer: no.

I asked if there would be a new footpath created to the south along Innox Hill, as if a pedestrian access is created from the proposed housing, how would people be expected to walk to and from the town centre when part of the road has no pavement, it would be creating a death trap as it is hard to see round the bend. Answer: we will have to wait and see the application when it is submitted.

I asked that if this application is refused, would it be the last (as there has been one every 4-5 years recently)? Answer: this is up to the applicants.

I asked when the application would be submitted? Answer: if no new issues arise from the consultation responses in the next week, it would be submitted in April. If new issues are raised that need extra work to address, the application could be delayed.

Savills emailed out a copy of their presentation (including an indicative masterplan), a summary of the proposed development, and a feedback form (see below). Residents are asked to respond to the consultation by emailing innoxhill@savills.com or in writing to Innox Hill Consultation, Savills, Embassy House, Queens Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1SB, no later than 7th April 2022. Such a major development would be determined by Planning Board, of which I am a member.

   3 Comments

3 Responses

  1. […] Public consultation on new housing development at Innox Hill – This is the corner field adjacent to Packsaddle Way, and there is a meeting with the development team next week – see here. […]

  2. […] Today 7th April is the last day to respond to Savills’ pre-application consultation on the proposal to develop 71 new homes on Innox Hill. Around 70 residents and several other councillors and I attended the presentation by Savills at Frome Town Council’s Planning Committee last week, and many concerns were raised. I and others asked about the wisdom of bringing new residents into an area where fly nuisance is suffered by nearby residents, and the need for safe pedestrian access along Innox Hill road towards Frome. If no new issues are raised from people’s responses, a planning application is likely to be submitted later in April. The email address to send any comments to us innoxhill@savills.com. Please see here for my full updated report. […]

  3. Bill Lowe DipTP(dist) says:

    Dear Adam,
    I was the Area Planning Officer in the 1980s when this land was first considered, and rejected at appeal, for housing development. An approval here now, notwithstanding Mendip’s 3.5 year Housing Land Supply, would be contrary to the aims of achieving well designed places at para 130(f) of the NPPF, and is an overriding reason for refusal, despite the “tilted balance” argument in para 11 of the NPPF. The proposal will fail to deliver a site design which will “promote health and well being, a high standard of amenity for existing and future residents” because the development of a north facing slope will inhibit winter insolation into gardens and windows, is adjacent to the waste water treatment plant which is a known source of nuisance (where we imposed a 400m cordon sanitaire in the 1980s) and is on land which is visually important in its undeveloped state to the wider landscape setting of Frome, characterised by building up to, but not downslope of, its skyline. This latter point is particularly important from Spring Gardens and elevated views from Orchardleigh.
    The argument of housing need does not override these fundamental site design objections; there are much more preferable solutions to meeting future housing needs in east Mendip, including a new settlement based on existing rail infrastructure as advocated by the 2021 NPPF. That is something for the Local Plan Review to 2040 to address.
    With best wishes,
    Bill Lowe (Mendip East Area Planning Officer 1984 – 1987).

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