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Up to 90 homes could be delivered on Somerset green space once intended for the new school Bath City News

Up to 90 homes could end up being built on a green space in Somerset that was once intended for a new primary school.

The land north of Packsaddle Way in Frome was purchased by Somerset County Council in 1973 with the intention of building a new school there to serve nearby housing. The council announced in March that it wanted to sell the site, with housing association LiveWest entering into an option agreement to develop the land in the near future.

Now a local councilor has suggested up to 90 new homes could be delivered to the site – although this has not been officially confirmed by LiveWest. Adam Boyden is one of two Liberal Democrat councilors representing the Frome College ward on Mendip District Council, which includes Packsaddle Way.

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On his official website, Mr Boyden said he had received more than 40 emails from his constituents raising concerns about the development of the site. He said: “This is a popular route for local residents to walk in a peaceful location, view wildlife (especially the many birds in the hedgerows and trees), walk their dogs off leash (especially as the land fence to the north has tightly restricted access to footpaths), and access to the countryside beyond.”

Following these concerns, Mr Boyden met with LiveWest employees to discuss the site – and revealed how many homes could be delivered there if planning permission was obtained. He said: “I spoke to a senior representative of LiveWest, to share the views of local residents and to learn something about LiveWest’s initial overall intentions.

“LiveWest will shortly be appointing a planning consultancy to prepare a planning strategy for a development here.

Councilor Adam Boyden (Liberal Democrat, Frome College) (Image: Adam Boyden)

“They will commission various site surveys and studies this year, including a full season of ecology/wildlife surveys (beginning this spring), and prepare a site constraints and opportunities plan. 80 to 90 two to four bedroom units.

“As LiveWest has funding from Homes England to develop affordable housing by 2025/26, it is likely to offer 40% affordable housing (mainly social rents – above the 30% minimum required in the policy of the Mendip local plan), the other 60 percent of homes sold on the open market. LiveWest would be the long-term custodian of the subdivision.

“The county council is considering retaining part of the site to develop a residential social care facility somewhere on the site.” Homes England provides funds through central government to clear hard-to-develop sites (such as Saxonvale brownfield site in Frome), build new transport links (such as at key Brimsmore site in Yeovil) or to provide a quantity of affordable housing in a site (such as an 80-house site near the Willow Man sculpture in Bridgwater).

Mr Boyden – who represented the Lib Dems in the seat of Somerton and Frome at the last general election – said he would work with LiveWest to ensure as much green space on the site is retained. He said: “All plans hope to retain as much vegetation (mature trees and hedgerows) and historic features as possible, as well as some trail routes.

“Some trees would need to be removed to allow road access to the site from south of Packsaddle Way, and some of the permissive path routes would be re-routed. In any development I would seek to retain an open corridor through the site, conservation historic hedgerows and mature trees, so that impacts on wildlife are assessed and mitigated, and so that the amenity of neighboring residents is respected.

LiveWest did not officially corroborate Mr Boyden’s figures for the number of homes, but said it would work closely with the local community to deliver homes that meet Frome’s needs. A spokesperson said: “The first part of the process is for us to undertake surveys and investigations to examine the opportunities and constraints to the development of the site.

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“As part of fully understanding the results of this exploratory work and prior to the submission of any planning proposals, we will engage and solicit the views and opinions of the community. All homes built on this site will be part of our program to deliver over 7,000 homes in the South West over the next five years.

Mr Boyden is standing in the local elections for the new Somerset Unitary Council on May 5, as one of two Lib Dem candidates in the Frome North Division.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-14 23:01:00

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