A New Dawning For Saxonvale

Over 200 Sang for a New Beginning in Frome’s Town Centre this May Day, 2023

With the welcome of spring, over 200 people sang at dawn (6 am) in a traditional May Day chorus on the Saxonvale site in Frome. This 500 year old tradition represents new beginnings and renewal echoing what is hoped for from the people of Frome for the Mayday Saxonvale alternative plan for Frome’s town centre. 

Singers welcomed the sunrise over Frome while singing, with the direction of Caroline Radcliffe, five traditional folk and popular songs including ‘Here Comes The Sun’ by The Beatles. The mass singing event was followed by a May Day Celebration including morris dancing by Mr Wilkins Shilling, flower garland making, and live folk music.

Damon Moore, Mayday Saxonvale Director said: “Four years ago we established Mayday Saxonvale on May Day (1st May 2019) with a small group of people singing on the site at dawn.

This year, to join over 200 people, who got out of bed before 6 am, in solidarity and hope for new beginnings in Saxonvale was just an absolutely incredible experience.

Spring is a season of renewal and regeneration – symbolising starting fresh and starting over.  Now as we have gained our outline planning permission, and with the dawn of the new Somerset Council, it’s a new day and a new hope for the future of Saxonvale in Frome.”

After years of dereliction and many proposed plans never coming to fruition, Saxonvale now has two approved plans for its development. One by Acorn Property Group for 300 high density apartments; and the second by Mayday Saxonvale, a community, not for profit development comprising over 30% social housing, a genuine town centre extension with community assets including a public lido. 

Mendip Council bought the land in 2018 to enable it to be developed with the Acorn plan which was rejected by Frome’s Town Council, Civic Society, Chamber of Commerce and over public 500 objections. With the merging of the district councils this month, the new Somerset Council has inherited the land from Mendip and will be the decision maker on the successful plan for Frome’s town centre. The new Somerset Council has committed to listening to local residents, including establishing Local Community Networks ‘to give communities the power to influence decisions about their local area’. 

Moore continues: “Saxonvale provides the new council an immediate opportunity to put their new approach into action, by listening to our community and empowering Frome to proceed with our community-led plan. We have had our first positive introductory meeting with the new council, and look forward to further open dialogue with them. 

“Unlike Acorn, who view development through the lens of investor returns, we are fully aligned with the new Council in our objective of maximising public value through the development of Saxonvale.

Value for Frome, and value for the new Somerset Council.”

Watch 2021 May Day Dawn Chorus