The former industrial site Saxonvale has laid empty for over a decade, becoming a vacant eyesore for Frome Town. Following the purchase of the site by Mendip District Council and subsequent partnership with Acorn Property Group, the exciting redevelopment of this long-derelict site will bring a vibrant mixed-use neighbourhood to life along the banks of the River Frome. Subject to planning, summer/autumn 2020 will see the site undergo major operations in preparing for its redevelopment, with enabling works taking place to include decontamination, demolition and re-levelling the ground surface. Despite challenges faced due to the wider effects of Covid-19 Acorn is still progressing with the planning application.
Now more than ever, Acorn recognises the importance of outside space and the immediate environment and understands that in order for Saxonvale to be a good neighbourhood it must offer a wide range of qualities, to make living and working there attractive, enjoyable and have a positive contribution to wellbeing; one being the quality of the surrounding natural environment. At Saxonvale, Acorn will positively enhance biodiversity throughout the site, maintaining existing ecological habitats and bringing new opportunities to nurture over time.
Landscape Architect, Matthew Wigan has designed the scheme to promote biodiversity by incorporating numerous green elements from footpath and cycle links, street trees, private external space in the form of balconies to generous public open space and the new Riverside Park. Matthew describes “The Riverside Park is an amenity for the community but it is also a valuable ecological habitat. We want to create a network of green links throughout the scheme, designed for biodiversity with places for residents to meet, sit, talk, exercise and enjoy being outdoors.”
The new Riverside Park will be characterised by open grassland and woodland for recreational use, featuring timber play equipment selected to fit in with the natural character of the space. While a woodland walk will form a secondary access route to the park with natural play features such as logs to provide a range of play opportunities.
Acorn has listened to comments raised through the consultation process and improved Garsdale Avenue to reduce on-street parking, with new planting and communal seating areas included to provide better quality space for pedestrians. As part of a broader site-wide planting programme which will be implemented with the intention to plant in excess of 80 new trees in the public open space; where some of these trees will be able to grow to substantial mature sizes, as well as including smaller urban trees and hedgerows to bring character and amenity to the public realm. Emphasis will be on urban green space; ensuring existing mature trees are maintained and the additions of new native species of trees enhance the site’s green infrastructure and improve the natural aesthetics of the scheme while supporting biodiversity.
Social gardening opportunities will also be provided for apartment residents at Saxonvale. Where those who live in an apartment can have the opportunity to change and influence the built environment surrounding them and enjoy gardening activities by taking responsibility for maintaining their associated planting areas. Supporting the sense of community, space will be given to promote health and wellbeing with raised planters for veg production and lawn areas where local residents can come together for enjoyment and relaxation.
A full biodiversity ecology study has been undertaken by Clarkson and Woods which has informed the design of the scheme to identify areas known for biodiversity value and safeguard existing species and habitats. Peter Timms, Ecologist at Clarkson and Woods explains “The River Frome is a major ecological asset and represents an important connective link for wildlife through the town. The scheme has been sensitively designed to preserve the river and its wooded bankside habitat, ensuring its value for wildlife will be maintained.”
Natural springs also occur on the site, so appropriate measures will be taken to incorporate these into creative water management solutions and sustainable opportunities such as natural drainage swales to provide urban cooling. Linear gravel swales can convey heavy rainfall and act as irrigation for planting areas, with native wetland wildflower planting in and around these swales to provide an attractive natural area.
In addition, further measures will be taken to encourage nesting birds and roosting bats such as integrating bird boxes and bat roost boxes into the design.
For all the latest news on Saxonvale please visit www.saxonvaleredevelopment.org