The public image of Frome tends to be one of trendy shops and markets, quirky cobbled streets and independent cafes. That’s how the national press portray us in those ‘best places to live ’articles. Sadly, alongside the success of the town as a destination for visitors, creatives and innovative entrepreneurs comes the inevitable rise in property prices. Frome is certainly in the sights of many looking for a better lifestyle away from cities. Following the recent lockdowns larger towns and cities have felt claustrophobic and lacking in nearly countryside. Whilst the ongoing rise of Frome might sound positive there is another side to the story. Local people are being priced out of the housing market and rental prices are soaring. Frome is becoming almost a town of two halves. There are those who comfortably housed and those who are struggling with rising rents, low in-comes and the real possibility of having to leave their hometown to be able to afford a home.
Decent housing is a human right, and it’s something that we can provide. The lack of recently built social housing is a huge problem. The right-to-buy scheme saw significant numbers of council homes taken out of the housing stock in past years. It left a big hole in the socially rented market that still exists today. In short, building new affordable social housing for local people is a must, we need to do it, and we need to do it soon. We should all see the benefits it will bring our community.
A quick look at the statistics gives us a sharp reminder of the situation here in Frome. Figures from Mendip District Council show that the numbers of applications on the housing waiting list has been fairly consistent between 2018 and the present day. A total of between 256 and 276 applicants in the top two tiers of the list (gold and silver categories) are waiting on the register. In simple terms, this means that Frome needs to provide up to 276 social rented homes to meet the current housing need. These homes would range from one-bedroom to five-bedroom properties. This number is likely
to be an underestimate. It doesn’t include those lower down in bronze section of the housing waiting list. Also, it also doesn’t include those who simply haven’t applied to be housed because they feel their chances of be-ing housed in their hometown are so small.
The team behind Frome Area Community Land Trust (FACLT) has been working hard for the last couple of years to bring new genuinely affordable rental housing to Frome. The team works closely with organisations, such as Fair Housing for Frome. FACLT is hoping that they will land their first sites fairly soon and begin to provide homes to help ease the local housing crisis. Community Land Trust properties can be targeted at local people with the added advantage of homes not be part of any ‘right-to-buy ’ scheme. This ensures that they stay affordably rented in perpetuity.
Community Land Trusts have already been hailed for their success across the country. FACLT hopes to bring the Frome community together and work towards making a real difference in our wonderful town.
Press release issued w/c 15th March 2021