At a prestigious Urbanism Awards held at a ceremony in London on 6th November, it was announced that the town of Frome, Somerset has won The Great Town Award 2016. The Awards recognise the places that have demonstrated innovation and excellence in all aspects of urbanism and Frome was one of three finalists, the others being Margate and Halifax.
A number of factors led to Frome winning this award. Some examples include:
• The fact that the Town Council has established a progressive, risk taking and supportive authority that in the eyes of the assessors genuinely cares about the town and its communities.
• Frome now has an exceptional range of cultural and community opportunities including two theatres, a music venue and regular festivals.
• The town has around 400 listed buildings and there has been significant investment in the historic fabric. There are also good examples of new building in the town that manage to avoid pastiche and fit well in scale and materials.
• Recent public and private sector investment has ensured that town centre streets are lively and active and there are a number of events that animate them. One excellent example is the monthly Frome Independent Market, the largest curated street market in the south west. It was recently voted as one of the best markets in the country by the Observer Food magazine.
• The commercial vitality of the place was considered to be astonishing for a town of its size in a location that is within easy reach of Bath and Bristol. The vibrancy of the independent retail sector and the opportunities for business incubation were particularly highlighted.
• Frome is also considered to be excellent in its response to environmental issues. There is a concentration of businesses producing environmental products and services and an emphasis on getting them to network and build further opportunities. The Frome Renewable Energy Cooperative was considered by the assessors to be especially impressive.
Cllr Pippa Goldfinger of Frome Town Council who accepted the award on behalf of the town said, ‘I am thrilled that Frome has been recognised in this way and give thanks to the Academy of Urbanism for bestowing this honour on the town. Many people in Frome have long felt that it is a great town but the secret is now out! This new award owes much to the spirit of community, innovation and enterprise in the town and I am certain that the people of Frome will be very proud that their efforts have received such national recognition.’
This award comes only a week after Frome Town Council won Council of the Year at the National Association of Local Councils’ first ever Star Council Awards.