Building sustainable communities is a
cornerstone of the Mayday Saxonvale

A sustainable ambition for communities is one that “seeks to maintain and improve the economic, environmental and social characteristics of an area so its members can continue to lead healthy, productive, enjoyable lives “.

Hart, SustainableCommunities 2012

Principles of sustainable development are mitigating the pressures on regional towns to become dormitory towns. To stop towns facing slow decay and decline of their town centres and shopping centres. This is vital to provide is a balance of social value and economic opportunity for today’s business market place.

The modern model of commercial premises form a sales area with a kitchenette tacked on. This does not respond to the increasing demand of local businesses seeking modular space on flexible terms. For example, a trading area with an office, or a retail presence with a light manufacturing unit. Proper storage facilities are also a vital element with goods moving online which need to be packed and dispatched.

There are also different sectors to be considered and how complementary activities can be enhanced. Fundamentally these outcomes are expressed in place making. National Planning Policy Framework 2019-2021 states, that sustainable principles of development are a material consideration in planning decisions, and that ‘The purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.’

Overview & Context

Our approach gives deference to Frome’s heritage, established and vibrant cultural activities, independent spirit and the local entrepreneurial economic model. These have all been essential drivers of Frome’s success and growth over recent years. The masterplan in its final form is therefore reactive and in many aspects,
‘bespoke’ with a greater emphasis on community, commercial space and live/work within a public realm that is environmentally responsible and based upon well-living principles.

We have re-used and utilised existing buildings wherever possible. Including the preservation of factory premises that have a powerful story to tell – stories that are meaningful to Frome’s working life and memories and to how Saxonvale has evolved over time into the ‘lost’ industrial heartland of the town.

Commercial space provision in a combination of reuse of heritage assets including derelict factory premises, live/work investment opportunities, and flexible, the modular spatial design will facilitate the level of business opportunities vital to a sustainable community

Local Plan Part 1 states:

‘In 2029 Frome residents have access to a wider range of jobs locally which has led to a reduction in the level of commuting out of the town.’

The overarching objectives are economic, social and environmental.

These objectives are defined as follows:

Economic objective

‘to help build a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right types is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth, innovation, and improved productivity; and by identifying and coordinating the provision of infrastructure’.

Social objective

‘to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by ensuring that a sufficient number and range of homes can be provided to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by fostering well-designed, beautiful and safe places, with accessible services and open spaces that reflect current and future needs and support communities’ health, social and cultural well-being’.

Environmental objective

‘to protect and enhance our natural, built, and historic environment; including making effective use of land, improving biodiversity, using natural resources prudently, minimising waste and pollution, and mitigating and adapting to climate change, including moving to a low carbon economy’.

BREEAM Communities give equal importance to the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability.

Retro-Fit First Approach

Creativity, history, variety, usefulness, and sustainability – all of these come together and support each other from a retro-fit first approach.

There are a number of factors recommending a retro-fit first approach, adopted within this plan.

Saxonvale was first developed for the textile industry, (specifically silk and crepe in this location) during the closing years of the eighteenth century. Other textile works, Sheppherds and Tuckers Mill for example, were positioned in greenfield locations on the boundaries of the town, and in these settings – as was the case with Saxonvale –
rapidly expanded.

view looking south between the press shops and notts store, view looking west with the western warehouse on the left and the press shops on the right

A timber and rubble stone mill could be constructed in no more than about nine months so, with no shortage of labour, Saxonvale underwent a period of intense building for the silk industry which lasted until the later 1800’s. In 1925, the land and buildings were sold to Notts of Cardiff, jobbing engineers who at first utilised the old mills and then began a construction schedule of their own into the lower factories as they expanded during the Second World War. At this time, Beswicks fuse makers also relocated to Saxonvale from Essex and commenced operations from what is known today as the ‘Bunker Building’ and the Eastern or Beswicks Warehouse. They also built a new factory premises which was demolished in 2010.

By the last quarter of the 1900’s therefore, Saxonvale had a range of different types of buildings still surviving from all these phases and very much connected to the working memories of the population of Frome for whom this landscape was so familiar and which had played such an important role in their lives.

A key objective from the outset is to reduce embodied carbon.

The variety of robust structures support rich place-making possibilities whilst emissions of additional carbon in the creation of new buildings are avoided.

Retained Buildings

The drawing illustrates in green which
structures are to be retained and refurbished
for future generations.

The few buildings in white will need to be demolished to help provide space for new buildings and public spaces that are critical in making a masterplan for the site work. The strategy adopted
proposes considered and careful demolition.