‘The more local people contribute to a scheme the better. When decisions are put into the hands of the Community, they will inevitably make better decisions for a scheme that meets local needs, the local economy and the environment. Projects delivered in such a way tend to create new ways of bringing forward sites with innovation, high environmental and social value principles required for the future of development that is needed in communities’
Andrew Kirby, Mayday Saxonvale Lead Architect
Mayday Saxonvale is launching as a community benefit organisation to create a responsive, caring and alternative vision for Saxonvale. Mayday Saxonvale is open to anyone wishing to register their support and we will be inviting you to contribute as much as possible to how the architect’s design evolves.
Acorn’s consultation for Saxonvale has been divisive and their appointment by Mendip District evidenced as unlawful. Acorn’s current application breaches fundamental principles of Frome’s local development plan with monolithic, out of place architecture. Along with traffic gridlock, there is no commitment to an affordable housing target, no place-making, no understanding of the heritage connected with the site and no affordable commercial space provision at scale meeting Frome’s chronic lack of central business premises.
But this only takes us so far.
Mayday Saxonvale wants to write a new story for Saxonvale and we are aiming at maximum participation by everyone wanting to see a different possibility for this site. Let’s put an end to all the arguments and do what we know is right and should be done. Property development has to change in this country but we don’t need big developers or millions of pounds in grant money. What we need is people who love Frome and want to see Saxonvale redeveloped upon grounded environmental principles and for our pressing community priorities.
We will be utilising a viable local investor and self-build model based upon our belief that there is pent-up, untapped demand in Frome and region for development opportunities upon self-build, affordable and well-living principles in the centre of town.
We haven’t much time. Acorn and the District Council are preparing to impose this abject development upon Frome but it doesn’t have to happen. Please show your support and engage if you want to by becoming a full member. After all the years of arguments, Saxonvale’s alternative future is just over the horizon.
Who is funding this?
The Silk Mill is providing funding for Mayday Saxonvale new social enterprise up until the point of an outline planning application when the entire design comes together in the evolving masterplan. At that point, local investor and self build options and expressions of interest can be amalgamated and a contract with the District Council agreed.
What about the Acorn application?
Over many months, Frome’s formal consultees have been requesting major changes to Acorn’s application and for the developers to provide a plan which respects our planning protections. The level of response to the many concerns raised has been totally insufficient and there are unresolved questions as well about the legality of Acorn’s appointment by Mendip District Council which are ongoing, well evidenced and which will not go away. We have seen developers in Saxonvale failing to understand the consultation process too many times and now a different approach is called for, one that puts Frome’s future and Frome’s community priorities at the top and not at the bottom. For all these reasons, we hope Acorn will not seek to impede our local democratic process any further but recognise the time has come for them to leave the scene. We have a better alternative.
How do you know this plan will work?
Mayday Saxonvale is working with Andrew Kirby Architects from Totnes who have a successful track record in this field. For over 15 years, the Silk Mill has been meeting individuals, organisations, small and medium businesses and local groups who want to get involved in a new Saxonvale but who have been frustrated. This social enterprise provides an opportunity for all of those many different aspirations to be realised. We want Saxonvale to be a gateway for an independent and entrepreneurial approach that has been such a success in recent years, to build and design a well-living community that the whole of Frome can take pride in and to inspire other towns under threat of low grade redevelopment plans to do the same.
Isn’t the site too complicated? Aren’t there just too many problems?
There are many reasons why different development proposals in Saxonvale have stalled but we think it is a good thing Frome has waited this long. Contemporary architecture has really taken hold of social value outcomes in recent years which means we can build at density but in balance with the natural environment using exciting green infrastructure engineering and innovative materials. Developers use a language of land contamination and associated costs of mitigation to make excuses for imposing the designs they want not the designs that communities require and which are essential for our prosperity and well being.
How long will this all take?
It is not easy to say exactly since it depends on lots of factors but we hope to move forward as quickly as we can.
If I decide to become a member, does that commit me to investing in the final scheme?
No, absolutely not. But you do need to become a member if you wish to register for a self-build or commercial, live-work or other affordable property.
How much will the final cost of construction be?
An important aspect of our approach is that every dwelling or commercial unit within the scheme will be built and supplied at an affordable cost. If you elect a main contractor for your build, then the total cost will be ready for you and for your financial planning at the outline planning stage. We will be releasing further details at the appropriate time.
Will Mayday Saxonvale actually be redeveloping Saxonvale?
Given the complexities of major redevelopment, Mayday Saxonvale is both a blueprint bringing forward an outline planning application and a management company ensuring that the aims of the social enterprise are met. Construction will be allocated to the various groups, individuals, community organisations, businesses and contractural companies who wish to reserve allocated residential and commercial building plots of all different kinds..
What about the Cultural Quarter and the Western Warehouse?
Frome Town Council has been advancing plans to develop the Western Warehouse for wider community use and we welcome engagement with them about their proposals. The Listed building cluster includes Merchants’ Barton, Frome Abattoir, The Silk Mill, Western Warehouse and the Old Offices. In 2008, the Bussman Cooper Warehouse was lost in an attack of arson. Demolition began on the afternoon following the fire when much of the structure was still standing. What we have lost, makes it even more important that this area is sensitively and sympathetically integrated.
What happens to any surplus profits?
Surplus profit generated from the scheme will be diverted to a new charity that will be nominated to refurbish the Cultural Quarter for various commercial class uses. The charity will then stay in place to create a funding programme to assist Frome’s many vital arts and cultural institutions.