The Silk Mill is working with Andrew Kirby Architects and local resident and fellow Social Value Architect Jonny Buckland, to develop a ‘constraints and opportunities’ plan. Our aim is to ‘prompt’ the basis of a ‘community brief’, where you can have your say about what you think is needed in Frome and how it will be provided on this site.

This will be a mix of affordable housing, flexible local business incubation units, workspace and office, independent retail, artisan shops and live-work. Please engage and contribute to this process with your thoughts about this site and what you think Frome needs.

These contributions will assist in defining the wider options for site, and will be developed in further detail as the masterplan evolves. Building uses, scale, relationship with the town, public spaces, materials, environmental standards will all be considered.

25 thoughts on “Community Feedback & Brief

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  • I have joined this forum hoping to contribute as much as possible.
    I have lived in Frome for twenty years and seen major changes in the town in its, structure and community life, of born and bred residents and all the newcomers with a considerable number from London!
    My home overlooks the town and any development will be on my viewpoint, so I hope it is visually acceptable.
    The area should become in my opinion, the central hub, for residential, internal markets,start up studios/workshops etc. and a community park.
    The public consultation I hope ensures that it is not developed for the maximum profit of the owners which include Mendip District Council. but for the community of Frome.

  • I strongly support the proposal for relocating St John’s School. The Saxonvale site is still with close proximity of the church and is central within the town and catchment area. I believe the proposed new site would open up more park and (accessible) stride options for families and accordingly would have the potential effect of reducing school traffic along Christchurch Street East. The current school building and site cannot adequately meet the needs of the children and staff due to the age And style of the building and the limited outdoor space.

    With regard to housing I agree that this should be multi-generational with some affordable housing and provision for people with additional needs. I believe there should be level walking routes into town, suitable for wheelchair use. Frome has several new sprawling housing estates – they have little character. When within them, you could be in any town. It would be nice if the housing and Saxonvale development generally could maintain some of Frome’s character and identity. The danger otherwise is that aspects of Frome’s character and identity would be lost and this would be a shame.

    I believe that the aesthetic of the development should be broadly outwardly in keeping with the older stone and listed properties in the vicinity, insofar as possible but with a ‘modern edge’ when required, e.g. the school building.

  • Love the idea of the different zones so you can eliminate those that are supported from those that may be contentious. Like the community feel of the area. Only thing that jarred with me was the Hamam. I think in its place should be a community fitness space with a stage so it could be used for classes in the day/evening and also small music/poetry/ drama performances or talks. There are not many performance places in Frome that are big enough to accommodate an audience of say 100/200.

    • Hello Penny,
      Thank you for your comment and participation in this important process. The Hamam is just one of the areas of the design we have identified for active community uses. The listed building cluster to the east of the Merchants Barton, (including the Western Warehouse) and in the Pavilion Building overlooking the riverside park will have opportunities for fitness classes and lowering the car-park beside the Bennett Centre will be an important element in opening this building fully, helping to build capacity for the types of activities you describe.

      Studying the natural resources of the site, a Hamam in this location caught our attention as accessing and utilising the undervalued natural spring water resource in the Barton. The facility is proposed to have treatment rooms for alternative therapies and massage rooms as well. Community provision in total, (including cultural) is calculated by our draft masterplan at approximately double the total amount than would be the case if only the Western Warehouse were to be made available.

      Andrew Kirby

  • At long last an achievable plan to make good use of this huge wasted space in Frome. How many years and how many plans forwarded? Time to act.
    For me, a Frome resident for 40+ years, I would like to see greenery, affordable housing for young people. Possibly a self build opportunity? There has to be the much needed infrastructure – there’s been so much housing built on that side of Frome but nothing to support the increase in resident numbers.
    This could be a real asset to Frome but if the dithering continues it will be a lost opportunity.

  • I think this is a fantastic opportunity to create a positive space in the HEART OF FROME.

    The possibility of building a school on a pocket of this land is hugely exciting.

    The building could be inspirational in itself by using sustainable technology and modern methods; the school could cater for the wider community not just the pupils it is educating, by housing evening classes and adult education groups; a forest school could be included in some of the outside space, which could be utilised by the Frome Learning Partnership and its schools.

    This is a chance for us as a community to have something other than simply more housing or another supermarket. Let’s try to do something innovative, fresh and useful…not just for us, but our children and our future.

    Well done Mayday Saxonvale……now let’s get this ball rolling, and build some momentum.

    Being “Heavily” into preserving / recording the fantastic wildlife we have around this GREAT TOWN of ours and having had a quick look at the excellent revamp of the “God Awful” —-“Plans” put forward by MDC and Co, like to put forward a suggestion of making use of the flood area not to be ???? built on of excavating a loop in the river forming an island with a bridge over plus there,s talk of another bridge over into Willow Vale replacing the foot bridge that was there I remember as a kid. (thick –ear for “Accidentally” dropping my shoe in the river —last seen going over the weir at Welchmill)
    Easy enough to excavating (being a retired build could probably scrounge a digger somewhere) down to the mean average river level so there is a constant movement of water —–small weir on the end of the loop to form a deeper area —-platform for river dipping catching minnows and the like.
    As for the rest of the site I reckon you’re pretty well there.
    Congratulations and THANK YOU from the people of Frome on all you’re hard work.
    Tony H.

  • These new proposed plans over MDC and Acorn I feel are far more balanced and all in keeping with a variety of demands. I appreciate the level of thought and consideration that has gone into the new masterplan scheme offered here. I love the idea of a lido, spring and Hammam however if they had to be dropped to make it more likely to be picked I feel that would would be a price worth paying. If it made no difference however I’d love to retain them and also love to include new Cockey lamp street lighting to tie the existing iconic street lighting in with the new masterplan however this is far from essential and more of a wish list. I have noted that in some previous people show concern that this new masterplan doesn’t offer the needed affordable housing compared with MDC and Acorns plans however we need to be realistic. Frome house prices have been steadily increasing over the last several years as it a wonderful place to live. As a result I believe that nearly all the housing offered by MDC’s plans by definitional cannot be affordable as housing adjacent to the heart of a thriving desirable town will have a higher ceiling price than similar houses in other parts of the town. For this reason I support this new masterplan as it includes a reasonable number of new properties whilst trying to ensure they can be as affordable as possible in the location they are. The variety of uses in this new masterplan I negates the risk of failure. By throwing all your eggs into the housing and traffic and housing plan offered by MDC’s plan fail to work as desired the entire site will be a failure (which undoubtedly will be the case if they bulldoze their horrendous plan through). With the variety that this new masterplan offers I feel if one quarter was weaker than the others at least the entire plan will not be compromised however I don’t feel this will be the case with such care and thought that can be seen throughout.

    I’d like to congratulate you in managing to bring together such an inclusive, coherent plan that is what our town deserves. I appreciate it is difficult to please everyone and no plan will ever be perfect and with that in mind I am so very impressed how brilliant this plan is.

  • I am just reading the article in the Frome Times (3/9/20) the plans put forward for Saxonvale are very innovative, exciting and feel that they encourage a really vibrant community focused area for Frome. Love the idea of a Lido and Hamam, green spaces and a school, I think this would be a definite positive step for Frome.

  • Having seen these ideas from Andrew Kirby Architects & Jonny Buckland, I breathe a sigh of relief. This is more like it.

    I still think a closure of Vicarage Street to through traffic should be included in the deal with the councils (Mendip & Somerset). A green bank at the roundabout would soften the views from each direction, while allowing pedestrians and cyclists a route through. The pavements could be widened, including shared space in the narrowest bits and it would reduce risk of accidents at the Gardsale Roundabout. Road access would be through the stub of the site leading into the north side Vicarage Street by No.11.

    At the west end of Vicarage Street, it could be blocked at the Bennet Centre, either before their entrance or after it. This allows for the (lowered) car park to be accessed from Merchants Barton and also access for loading/unloading around the Auction House.

    At the West end of the site, shared route for traffic and pedestrians could be along King Street, through Kingsway to the new development and then return for some (with suitable width/height warnings) down Church Street into Eagle Lane! The bit of King Street between the Kingsway and Eagle Lane would then become fully pedestrianised, with an unloading/loading bay at the Kingsway end.

  • As Co-Chair of the School Of Governors at St John’s we are delighted to be considered in these plans for Saxonvale.
    We are concerned about the proposed rising level of transport (heading past the School) that Acorn’s plans have revealed and quite rightly have been criticised by various bodies.
    The new school plan gives us a new greener School, better facilities and a greater space for the pupils to thrive in.
    The subject of Saxonvale stirs many views and emotions and perhaps some might be against a school being included. However, considering the times we now see ourselves in, it is so important to be investing in our future and that is in the education of the younger generation.
    I think these small voices should be heard, giving them a good start in life, a safer, greener environment to learn in is essential.

    • I was very keen to see the opinions of others on the school plans as I thought it was a brilliant proposition but not having kids of my own I wasn’t confident to comment or add my opinion until those with more knowledge of the needs and requirements of the schools ever evolving needs etc. ACORNS plan I believe is nothing short of reckless and negligent. Lovely to have a Co-Chair approve of the new design put forward here.

  • An addition to my earlier comment. I would like to see much more attention paid specifically to local artists. Lovely as it is to see the next new thing I think locals should be the priority we have so many really great artists here who struggle to get seen even in their own town, perhaps there should always be a percentage of local artists featured say 70/30.

  • I think Mendip are desparately trying to fulfill their housing quota and in many ways I’d prefer to see housing on already built upon sites rather than the proposed hideous green field plans to erect zillions of identical rabbit hutches to the South of Frome. However it needs to be sensitively done. Whilst it would be good to see some retail opportunities there I wouldn’t want that to detract from the existing retail space in the centre of town now, retail is struggling hard enough as it is without adding to the competition. Personally I think a new modern leisure centre would be a great thing to include, the current one is horribly outdated in my personal opinion and there is not enough space to cater for the variety of modern day sports requirements plus one thing the pandemic has taught us is that we need to encourage people to be more active. Perhaps space for the college to expand and have perhaps a business annex there as it would be close to local offices and make work experience easier to organise? As Frome is such an artistic town artists studios with retail attached, as an artist that’s a very personal want. I would like to see decent sized artists studio where artists can actually work with exhibition and SELLING space included all in one space, would be great for a large ground floor area. Black Swan is great don’t get me wrong but artists could do with more affordable practical places to create and show their work. Affordable exhibition space in Frome is almost non-existent, many of the spaces locally are just too expensive to hire for a lot of artists. And it needs to be green, tree planting, grass, flowers, benches, local artists commissioned to erect great sculpture and actually making the place a pleasant place to be and for Frome to be proud of. These are just a few thoughts off the top of my head. One or even two main stream shops would help encourage people into the space but I do feel for Frome it should be mainly artisan and independant shop based. A lot of housing can be mainly flats on upper floors leaving ground space for retail and leisure. Leave the houses for places where there is space to breath rather than cramming it all into tiny plots with not enough parking. AND finally, partly pedestrianised. This could be a great opportunity for something lovely. AND finally, finally please can I be one of the commissioned artists! A girl’s gotta try. Good luck.

  • Public buildings? I’d like a swimming pool. An advice centre, even a law centre. Adult education? Meeting spaces in public ownership. Shared workspaces (like Impacthub in Athens). Employment, including light industrial/crafts such as traditional building methods. Pedestrian walks, including riverside, although it would be good to take the opportunity to reconsider road configuration: could we take that sweep of traffic out of the town centre? Nothing without a plan for public transport to serve it. Local business/marketplaces. No chains. No more places to eat. Carbon neutral. Not sure low cost housing to buy works- just gets sold and becomes high cost. May be low cost rental housing, e.g. for key workers, is needed? Beautiful architecture, in local materials. Follow existing roads or build straight: no housing estate mazes.

  • As a local resident living very near to the development site, I’m very keen to see the land put to good use and enhance Frome in the longterm for all stakeholders. As a brownfield site its development is a must, given the current need for new housing. However, there is only one chance to get this right! A proposal such as ACORNS sets to maximise profit from the first sale of property with no regard to the future. We need a proposal that will prioritise long-term value to the town over a quick buck – in time, this will pay for itself many times over.

    The new development should enhance Frome in the long-term for:

    – The residents who move into the in new homes on Saxonvale (and those who move into these houses after the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th etc sale of the property)
    – Existing residents of Frome
    – Local commerce
    – The environment

    The ACORN proposals do not satisfy any of the above. The focus on high density housing and a quick profit totally ignores the needs of existing residents, local commerce and the environment. The sub-standard, cramped housing estate will not provide dwellings conducive to long-term wellbeing for those living in them, creating an ‘unloved’ area in such a prominent location.

    The key points I would love to see addressed in the alternative proposals are:

    – A focus on high quality housing, environmentally friendly housing in which people are happy and proud to live in. This should include ample garden space (the recent pandemic has shown us how important this is), privacy, desirable architecture and eco-friendly building materials

    – A fair percentage of affordable housing. This MUST be build to the same standards as the other housing, rather than stuffed into high rise blocks of flats as per the ACORN proposal

    – A density in-keeping with the surroundings. Maximum 2 storeys on the Eastern Edge as per Fishers Brook and Rivers Reach, with potential for 3 or 4 storeys as the site moves to the West and closer to the town centre

    – Communal spaces for free of charge use by Frome’s residents, away from traffic but with low maintenance leisure facilities which can be easily looked after by the community projects and social enterprise (the set-up of which should be part of development process). These spaces should encourage community events and physical exercise

    – Retail and food and beverage units are needed, but in proportion to the requirements within the town. The days of ‘build the shops and they will come’ are gone. Commerce provision must not compete with the vibrant town centre areas, but should complement it. GAP analysis should be conducted to identify the exact requirement,

    – Office and workshop space is a must. This is severely lacking in Frome town centre.

    – Public services (doctors, dentists, post office) should be explored. To keep the town centre vibrant we need more reasons to visit than commerce alone.

    – Provision of areas for street food vendors to rotate, with ample communal seating and tables to help with this

    – Retention of as many trees as is possible, particularly at the boundary of the development

    – Schemes to assist wildlife with adapting to the new development (bird boxes, additional wildlife corridors etc)

    – Use of the beautiful riverside location to enhance the look and feel of the entire development. The river should be embraced as a positive feature, rather than an inconvenience to be tolerated by the developers. The footbridge linking the site to Willow Vale, one of the most positive aspect of ACORNS proposal, should be retained

    – A viable solution to the traffic issues that would be caused by the ACORN proposal (there was another serious RTA at the roundabout at the top of Vicarage Street last week)

    – Ample parking provision. Whilst encouraging the use of public transport, walking and cycling is very important, this should be achieved by positive means (cycle lanes, cycle parking, pedestrian space, public transport provision) rather than the negative means of not providing adequate parking space.

    – Community spaces available for affordable hire (‘village hall’ type spaces, to serve the community in a variety of ways), both internal and external

    – Inclusion of Frome’s many social enterprises, sports clubs and arts institutions from the outside to find out which of their requirements are not currently met within the town and provide as appropriate

    • Mark, I must say you seem to have nailed the requirements and suggestions, I second all of these mentioned comments. I would love to see street lighting commissioned to match the old iconic Cockey lams that can be found all around Frome. I feel this would tie in the development with Frome’s industrial past. However this is a just a wish list addition.

  • My thoughts are with all these Housing estates there has not been any thought how St John’s it Nearest school which would love to be part of the new development due to the building being so old and needing a lot done, which has been rather over looked by all other planning previously submitted by Acorn/ Mendip District Council, also we were always told we would have a lovely shopping centre which has never been added, the arguments have been going on for so long!!!
    Give people of Frome what they are asking for not another over crowded housing estate, and please sort the dangerous round about we’ve just had another nasty Accident with a car and Lorry, maybe traffic lights would help?

  • A mere detail, but the junction of Vicarage Street, Christchurch Street East and Garsdale is a nightmare. Might I suggest that the new development would give us a chance to make Vicarage street a double cul-de-sac? By creating a modest route through to the west of No.11, Vicarage Street, the Garsdale end of Vicarage Street could be blocked to vehicles, with a green bank (trees, etc) and the opposite end, south of Church Street, could also be sealed (possibly with an emergency access bollard or two).
    Further, if a land swap was arranged with Lidl, then a circular route could be devised in the new development for delivery traffic – down into the site via Garsdale and return up north of Vicarage Street and through the current access route to Lidl.
    Finally, if King Street were extended through the precinct, it would allow a link to Saxonvale.

  • Frome is my nearest town. I used to come in every Wednesday when it was a thriving town centre. Now… less appeal. It has such potential to again be a place I want to call into, frequently, to meet up with friends, to buy basics and extras, to experience an uplifting gallery or music venue. If it becomes dreary I’ll not bother.

  • The Saxonvale development masterminded by Acorn and Nash is boring and money-grabbing. This partnership has delivered some awful developments in the past (eg Kingston Mills in Bradford on Avon) – I don’t want a repeat of those failures in Frome.

    I love Merchants’ Barton, and hate that they want to demolish the old abattoir side of the barton and replace with a tall office block. No one who cares about Frome’s architectural history should want this. With some imagination the historic face of this building could be retained to create a half-new, half-old building that’s sensitive to its surroundings.

    The whole plan could do with a lot more imaginative thinking. There are loads of ideas in the community about how to make Saxonvale as forward-thinking, creative and exciting as the rest of the town has become, and plenty of people living here with the skills and knowhow to collectively deliver a truly inspiring vision that can work in theory and in practice.

    This land is essentially owned by the public: this is our legacy to Frome, let’s not screw it up.

  • I have been living in Frome all my life and use to work at Saxonvale at Notts Industries back in 1998 for over 20 years the area has been derelict and the area has great prodential for positive redevelopment not houses.

    We had a great opportunity for redevelopment at the singers site back in the late 90s and the people of Frome put all their ideas together with positive ideas those ideas was rejected by the council and more houses was built . I don’t want the same mistake made with the Saxonvale development. I love Frome it’s a fantastic town to live in I just want what’s best for the town and the people of Frome.
    Signed Kev Davey (via Helen’s sign in)

    • I totally agree.

      I cycle through that Singers estate every day on my way to and from work, and every day I wonder about the people involved… Someone actually designed this? They ripped up all the good ideas from the community and instead they built… this?? Why?? It’s like a school kid spending a half-hearted 5 minutes on homework that was meant to take an hour. And instead of the teacher/ planning officer returning it with an F grade and “must try harder”, it got a big tick. It makes me angry that these lazy people have forced an ugly and uninspiring daily commute on me. A developer sleepwalking through a day and a lazy planning decision leads to centuries of people asking the above questions.

      Must. Try. Harder.

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