Born here or an incomer, we all want best for town
YOUR correspondents' letters under the headline "Vision could give town life" raise some interesting points for consideration by all who are interested in the future of our town.
The first, raised by Barry Campbell, is: who is entitled to voice an opinion about the development of the Saxonvale site? Should there be a time qualification? Should it be those who have lived here for 35 years like Mr Campbell, or perhaps who were born here, ruling out his opinion. Who would decide?
I have friends in their 30s who have moved to Frome in the last year because they think this is a good place to bring up a family. I think this is wonderful and that we must allow people like them that put so much faith into our town to have a say in its future.
I chose to come and live in Frome seven years ago and have not regretted that decision for a moment. It is a town with wonderful features, but the main reason that I love it is the welcome given me and my family by both recent arrivals and those that were born here.
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There is a sense of community in this place that is vibrant and growing stronger. This is why I do not wish to leave and why I intend to live out the rest my life here.
I therefore would like to contribute to the debate about the development of a large part of the centre of this jewel of a town.
The development of Saxonvale is crucial to the town so of course there are strong opinions being expressed.
If, as J O'Shea suggests the majority think that the Frontier proposals are good for this town would they please come forward and explain why they are so good. How will a large supermarket, twice the size of the 25,000sq ft unit that this letter supports, together with a number of other large retail units, provide us with the vibrant town centre that all of us want to see?
Frontier Estates is a commercial developer whose first duty is to providing their shareholders with a maximum return of profit on their capital. They do not wish to be constrained in doing this by the 2005 Planning Brief that has been adopted by Mendip District Council for the site. They will be claiming that it is not deliverable, citing the lack of progress since adoption as proof.
If Mendip planners are convinced by this they may decide to ditch their planning brief in favour of the Frontier plan. This document is freely available from Mendip District Council on its website and should be read by all who want to contribute to the town's future.
What I would like to see is a development plan put forward by an organisation that is willing to work with this brief and to consider what will really benefit this town.
Such developers do exist and two were represented at a meeting addressed by Kevin McCloud recently, held in Rook Lane Chapel, about community-built and self-built housing in Frome. We should encourage them (or others like them) to provide us with an alternative to the Frontier/Terramond model that the town as a whole could get behind and which Mendip could also see as a better option for them.
We can and must do much a better development of our town centre than the current proposals will give us.
We could provide an area of retail, commercial, public space and good housing for all of us in Frome and keep the distinctive local feel that makes Frome so special to those that live here and those who visit. Let's do it.
FIRSTLY, I should admit to being born and brought up in London. I left 35 years ago, arriving in Frome some 20 years ago – being particularly drawn to the "middle" school system for my daughter. So now, am I local, or afflicted by a "London village mentality"? "Whatever"!
It saddens me to think we still live in a "them" and "us" mentality. It would be good to think that we, in Frome, are better than this.
In Frome, one could say we're very fortunate to have a large area of land, ripe for developing from scratch. Yes, we could have a very large supermarket (and promise to eat more!). Alternatively, we could have a much more interesting mix, to include a smaller supermarket together with smaller shops and business units, not to mention a large and "fun" town square (to allow for evening functions, eg Food Fest, oh, and how about evening markets and concerts?).
I am puzzled by the lack of enthusiasm for open meetings – are we to assume that "local" people are happy for all decisions to made for them – there seems to be an assumption that "locals" are unable to think for themselves. Who, and where, are these "locals"?
The news is full of towns suffering after the arrival of large anonymous monoliths. Our shopping habits are dramatically changing. We can, and do, buy sugar and knickers online.
I think we should think long and hard about what life will be like in five-plus years' time. Do we really want to stand still and allow large developers to make a quick buck off Frome (and believe me, it's the money they're interested in – not Frome); or do we all want to have a say in allowing Frome to become more exciting and innovative?
Incidentally, I've just heard on the radio, a Chinese businessman being quoted – admitting they can no longer fill their shopping malls (in China) with standard large chain shops; they are having to encourage smaller "more interesting" businesses.
We must, also, remember that there is a hugely increasing demand abroad for British luxury and bespoke brands. Historically, this is what we've been known for. Can we not reach for the stars? Or shall we just carry on with the "no longer" safe option of the lowest common denominator.
WHAT a shame that two of your correspondents last week (Barry Campbell and J O'Shea) took the opportunity to make cheap shots against Keep Frome Local rather than constructively engage in an informed debate about the future of our town.
Neither had any comment to make about Frontier's plans (perhaps Mr Campbell had not seen them as he was away) and neither came up with any counter-argument to the very valid reasons that most of those attending the recent meeting gave for opposing those plans.
They have been well-rehearsed elsewhere but include increased delivery traffic down Vicarage Street, shopping and delivery traffic trying to navigate Portway and the mini-roundabout at the top of Garsdale, the lack of connection to the town, and the considerable size of the supermarket.
However, what I really resent is the implication made by both that, first, only those born and bred in Frome or who have lived here for many years have any right to an opinion about the town's future. And secondly, that the meeting was packed with, in the words of Mr Campbell, "Johnny-come-latelies" who have a London village mentality. This is simply inaccurate.
I have myself lived in Frome for more than 30 years and recognised many, many other long-term residents of the town. I have no desire to turn Frome into a new Hampstead. What I do want, and here I agree with both correspondents, is a thriving town centre that is not dominated by charity and twee gift shops.
However, a new, large supermarket in the town centre is not going to bring back the butchers and fishmongers that I also fondly remember, it will instead negatively impact the independent shops that we do still have. Plus we already have supermarkets in the centre that are roughly the size of those to which Mr Campbell refers.
I am not opposed to development, but opposed to lazy, inappropriate, unimaginative development that will have a negative impact on the Frome that we all love, whether we have always lived here, been here for thirty years or more, or have arrived in the "last five minutes".
THERE has been much discussion lately regarding the Saxonvale development.
This, to me, seems to be very one sided towards the Keep Frome Local group.
I, for one, am very for this development. I was born and bred here in Frome and very proud of it. Everyone who I know and speak to wants more national and bigger shops. We are put off from going to these so-called meetings for the fear of being shouted down, we are not all public speakers or have the confidence to talk in front lots of people, but we still have our opinions.
The smaller tourist/independent shops are lovely and needed but should go hand in hand. National shops also attract people from other towns and is why the majority of us go to Trowbridge, Bath or Yeovil.
If Frome had more choice we would not need to travel elsewhere, saving all of us petrol cost and helping the environment, and time so we could enjoy our town more. I agree that we don't want to become just like any other high street town, but we do need a bit more than what we have. Where in town can men buy clothes?
Frome is a great place to live and we should be proud of it, but please listen to everyone not just those who have moved here to use as a commuter town and bully the locals.
Whitestone Road, Frome