Keynsham, the town known widely for its K-E-Y spelling and Horace Batchelor could in future be famous in its own right as Keynsham-on-Avon, a tourist hot spot in the West of England and a centre for sustainable industries. That is the aim of the River Regeneration Trust which presented its initial vision at a specially convened meeting of Keynsham Town Council last night.
The River Regeneration Trust was formed earlier this year out of B&NES River Corridor Group and has received £100,000 funding to carry out a scoping study for the stretch of the River Avon known as the Broadmead Peninsula. Group Chairman Geoff Dunford explained that this was a isolated area of land between the railway land and the river which, because of the boundary between two local authorities, had received little attention in the past.
The aim is to create homes, jobs and leisure pursuits in the area while at the same time, dealing with future flood issues. A key part of the study, is to connect the town of Keynsham to its river, something which has been done successfully in other parts of the country.
James Hurley, a sustainability consultant who has the London Olympic Park on his c.v., unveiled some of the major areas of the plan including a 453 berth marina for leisure berths and up to 100 houseboats. Prefabricated riverside dwellings would also feature but the key element of this scheme is that these boats and the house units would be made on site using recycled materials. The area is already shortlisted as one of the possible locations for a major material recovery centre for the West of England and Mr Hurley drew councillors’ attention to the high number of specialist recycling companies already operating in the close vicinity. One catchphrase we are likely to hear a lot more as the project develops is ‘circular economy’ and the idea of recycling materials and using them to build homes and leisure units is one way of creating employment and retaining the benefits within the community.
Another key aspect of the plan is the creation of a wetland zone for which the Trust has the support of Wessex Water. The aim is not just to develop leisure pursuits but also to manage waste water in a 21st century manner. The Avon Valley Country Park is also a key stakeholder in this project which will also see a water ecology park created.
As with every other major development in Keynsham so far, access to a major tourist, residential and employment area will be vital. Improved road links and possibly a new bridge will be considered. The opportunity also exists for a new ‘parkway’ railway station with sidings so that extra capacity could be added to the busy main line.
These are very much the first brush strokes in the River Regeneration Trust’s scoping study and last night’s presentation was the first of many consultation exercises which will take place as the project evolves. At a time when Keynsham is undergoing a lot of transformation, much of which has been controversial, it was somewhat uplifting to see one vision for the town which has so far been given little consideration. It was also reassuring to see that the study will be taking a holistic approach to the Broadmead Peninsula rather than simply the economics of building houses.