Innovative Frome workspace scheme submitted for planning

A new innovative workspace scheme in Mendip has taken a step closer to realisation today, as planning was submitted for the potential development in Frome.

A new innovative workspace scheme in Mendip has taken a step closer to realisation today, as planning was submitted for the potential development in Frome.

The scheme which will create much needed start up space for Frome entrepreneurs in the centre of town and will also create an attractive new open space for Frome Residents has been proposed by Mendip District Council.

The council had originally proposed to install 20 specially converted shipping containers in the Cattle Market car park, close to the Cheese and Grain and Frome Canoe Club. The converted containers would provide fully serviced workspaces that could be rented to businesses, such as small tech, media and creative businesses.

An alternative site for the scheme has been proposed following feedback from the local community, after listening closely to their concerns, the council is proposing the new site for the containers and moving them across the car park to the Justice Lane area, alongside the public toilet facilities. A further concern raised about the colour of the containers has been addressed in the new proposals submitted with a softer tone being used, a move away from the original unpopular black containers proposed.

The scheme will face out onto Black Swan Arts on Justice Lane, and it will include within it an additional gallery space on the lower floor of the development, for Black Swan Arts.  This will extend the facilities that the Black Swan has, enabling it to offer more opportunities to local artists and increasing the programme of work on offer overall.  

Amanda Sheridan, Chair of Black Swan Arts, said "Much as we love our building, it does have some limitations, due to its age and nature, and we look forward to expanding into an additional gallery space and taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the new public area between ourselves and the new development ". 

Cllr Tom Killen, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Deputy Leader of Mendip District Council, said: "We have listened to the concerns from the local community following the original proposal, the new proposal submitted puts the development alongside Justice Lane following promotion by local individuals and groups in Frome for this alternative location.

"Crucially at a time when the High Street is under pressure from reducing custom we are committed to support our towns by encouraging more people into town centres and by offering this workspace and an attractive open space around the front of the site facing the Black Swan Arts we believe this will offer a real attraction in the town.

"For Frome and Mendip as a whole to thrive, it's essential we do all we can to attract new businesses to the district as well as retaining those businesses which are already well established. By offering this scheme it means that Frome based entrepreneurs will be able to work in the town and not have to travel to find suitable facilities elsewhere.

"However, we do recognise that there was some serious concerns locally with the original proposals and we believe that the work we have done in developing the new proposal will help to alleviate those concerns. The change in location, subtle changes to the exterior colour and the creation of an attractive open outdoor space, we hope will make the scheme more appealing to the local community.

"We would like thank everyone who has been involved with the development of the proposal and have given their feedback on the initial plans. We are really clear that this scheme is all about attracting new businesses to Frome by tackling the shortage of suitable workspace in the town and it is clear from the feedback we have received that there is widespread support for our innovative approach."

Letters will be sent to all neighbouring properties that will be affected by the scheme now being located on Justice Lane to ensure that they are fully consulted on the new proposal. The council are also looking at the reallocation of car parking spaces that will be removed as part of this proposal.

The planning application was submitted Wednesday, June 6 and is available to view on using the following planning application reference number: 2018/1424/RE3 . It is expected that the application will go to the Mendip District Council Planning Board meeting at the council offices in Shepton Mallet on Wednesday July, 18 at 6pm.