Council gives go ahead to Somerdale project

fry-impressionB&NES Council’s development control committee this afternoon approved plans by Taylor Wimpey to build up to 700 homes, a school and care centre on the former Cadbury factory site in Keynsham, despite continued concerns over a single access point. The hybrid application was for full permission to build 157 houses, 113 apartments and the new Fry Club and outline permission for the further phases of the development, including access.

3 sets of traffic lights

Local residents and Keynsham councillors lined up in opposition to the proposals and while all welcomed the plan to redevelop the now empty factory site, they all challenged the results of traffic modelling exercises carried out to support the case for a single access and egress. Members of the committee heard that a signal controlled junction on Station Road would be the only means for vehicle access to Somerdale while improvements to the junction of Avonmead Lane and the A4175 Keynsham Road would also result in traffic light controls.  Between the two junctions, a toucan pedestrian crossing would also be installed to facilitate access to the site from the railway station.  Despite this, a consultant’s report estimated increased journey times through the area would be a mere 3 minutes and that creating a second entry point into Somerdale would make so little difference as to not be justifiable.

650 jobs

Brian Simmons (right) urged B&NES planning committee not to repeat the mistakes of K2

Brian Simmons (right) urged B&NES planning committee not to repeat the mistakes of K2

In a reprise of the planning fiasco which preceded approval of the K2 site at the end of Park Road in 2010, councillors were faced with the choice of delaying the project until all traffic issues were resolved or bowing to pressure to build houses and bring much needed development to Keynsham.  Taylor Wimpey, coincidentally the developer of both projects, announced this morning that two major firms were on the point of signing up to move into Somerdale, bringing up to 650 jobs with them. One of those companies was confirmed as drinks distributor Matthew Clark which is looking to relocate its HQ from Whitchurch and employs 375 staff there.

In what seemed to be a case of bolting the stable door, committee members also agreed that an inclusive travel master plan for Keynsham should become a priority – something many in the town have been calling for since the publication of B&NES Local Plan in 2007.

Missed opportunity

Speaking after the meeting, Keynsham Town Council Chair, Gill Hellier said the decision was what she was expecting but not what she had hoped for. ” I was hoping the committee would have attached conditions to the approval which could have addressed the concerns over traffic” she said. “Today was a missed opportunity.”

We’ll have more reaction to the decision tomorrow.