High court judge blocks key Somerset development

A high court judge has quashed the decision to grant planning permission for a key scheme in Frome.

The Saxonvale site has been derelict for decades and in recent years there have been two rivals proposals to regenerate the site.

Somerset Council owns the land and Acorn Property Group is its preferred developer.

A judge quashed Acorn’s planning consent following a court brought by rival community-based developer Mayday Saxonvale.

More than 250 people opposed the Acorn plan ahead of it being passed by Mendip District Council in 2021

Amy Proctor, strategic partnerships manager at Acorn Property Group, said the company remained “committed and positive” to its vision for Saxonvale.

“We are disappointed with the outcome of the judicial review, which ultimately centred on a procedural technicality,” she added.

“For over two decades it has lain vacant, having faced ongoing challenges at the planning stage. The technical challenges for this site cannot be underestimated and events like this will only cause further delay.

“Like so many of the residents of Frome, we are all keen for development to commence.”

Saxonvale director, Damon Moore, who lodged the legal challenge, said: “We are incredibly happy with the outcome of this judicial review.

“The decision by the judge acknowledges the critical importance of Saxonvale in providing a genuine town centre extension.

“The judge ruled that Acorn’s scheme for Saxonvale failed to provide the requirement of the council’s own local plan for much-needed employment space to be located on the Saxonvale site.”

Acorn Property Group said it was going to put in a revised planning application to the council as soon as possible and it remains in a contractual relationship with Somerset Council.