Green light for work to start at Somerdale

The last piece of the jigsaw to allow redevelopment work to start at Somerdale, fell into place last week when B&NES Council and Taylor Wimpey sealed a Section 106 Agreement.

Although the Council’s development control committee approved plans for up to 700 houses last September, agreement on financial contributions by the developer (known as  a S106) was a condition. The document signed last week commits Taylor Wimpey to providing affordable housing as part of the scheme, a new Fry Club and sports pitches, education facilities and a raft of financial contributions towards infrastructure improvements.  These include public transport, library and youth services and a pedestrian/cycle bridge across the River Avon.

Some of the new houses proposed at Somerdale

Some of the new houses proposed at Somerdale

Controversially, the agreement also allows Taylor Wimpey to make a financial contribution towards ‘off site employment’ should it be unsuccessful in marketing the office space which was included in the original planning application. Last month, the developer returned to B&NES Council planners for permission to carry out only external refurbishment to the former factory Blocks B & C so that they could be adapted for alternative use (presumably housing) if the office space was not let. Despite calls from local councillors to ensure that any financial contribution was used for employment purposes within Keynsham, the committee accepted that the money could be used anywhere within Bath & North East Somerset.

The final S106 document stipulates that the amount of financial contribution would be based on the difference in value between the office space and the eventual alternative use. Taylor Wimpey now has 6 months to come up with a marketing plan to start selling the employment space and the financial contribution will be triggered if no potential tenants have been identified by the end of the unspecified ‘marketing period.’

The development is planned in five phases.  Demolition work has already begun on factory block D in preparation for Phase 1 which includes 127 homes, the Fry Club and sports facilities. The final phase due for completion in 2021.

Commenting on the agreement, Charlie Joseph, Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey Bristol, said: “We’re delighted that we are nearing the completion of the purchase of this prestigious development site in Keynsham.

“As well as building much-needed new homes – including affordable housing – our development will bring many additional benefits to the local area, including new employment opportunities as the build progresses.”