Many more would like to move here, to be closer to their families, jobs and support networks. Around 480 households on Somerset County Council’s housing register regularly select Frome as their first choice as a place to live, of whom around 400 are existing Frome residents. To help meet this need, Mendip District Council’s Local Plan established ambitious targets for the development of new homes in the town up to 2029. They also agreed a policy whereby a minimum 24% of new housing should be ‘social rented’ and 6% for ‘shared ownership’.
In reality, the new housing delivered has so far fallen far short of the targets. Private developers have been adept at using provisions in the statutory framework to avoid meeting Mendip’s requirements and to maximise their profits. And what of the paltry number of genuinely affordable homes that do get built? These are typically built to much lower standards than those for sale on the open market, and are then made available to applicants throughout Somerset with the highest points.
We work with Frome Town Council and other partners to monitor proposed developments and campaign for affordability. As an example, here is the FHfF response to the Selwood Garden Village consultation, January 2020.
We have publicised and run events on options such as self-build, and are encouraging Mendip to fulfil its statutory obligations by providing real opportunities for people on the self-build register.
We are also exploring the concept and practice of Tiny Homes, establishing an Action Group and working to identify potential sites. And we have spear-headed the setting up of Frome Area Community Land Trust (FACLT), a not-for-profit, community-led organisation that aims to acquire land and build genuinely affordable homes for local people.