A new leisure centre on part of Ashton Way and a second level added to the remaining part of the car park are among plans currently being considered by B&NES Council in the second phase of the Town Centre regeneration. The footprint of the Riverside would be developed for predominantly retirement housing while the Fire Station could become a hotel.
With the Civic Centre development now well underway, the Council has made clear its intention to have a firm plan in place for the Riverside by the time it vacates the offices there in Autumn 2014. Just over a year ago the Council Cabinet also considered a report on how the existing frame of the Riverside building could be converted into apartments, the bulk of which would be earmarked for retirement living. In May last year, the Cabinet also gave the Council’s Chief Property Officer approval to seek compulsory purchase power of the Riverside and Fire Station sites if negotiations with the head lessee cannot be successfully concluded. While the first draft of the Riverside Regeneration plan included the redevelopment of leisure centre and snooker club in situ, it is understood that the project has moved on with a new swimming pool to be built prior to redevelopment starting.
The future of the Fire Station is also a key element in the redevelopment plan. The Fire Service is known for some time to be considering the amalgamation of several local stations in the area into a state of the art facility, ideally located at Hicks Gate. Such a station could offer far greater response times to a large number of houses in all directions from Hicks Gate although there are several issues (including the Green Belt) to be addressed before this could become a reality. The Fire Station site on Temple Street is seen as key to the overall development, providing a buffer between the office/retail section and what would be a residential area. It is included in the area of compulsory purchase and a 45 bedroom ’boutique hotel’ with ground floor restaurant was the option originally mooted.
Last week, we reported that B&NES has identified the sale of the Entry Hill Golf Course along with the Pavilion in Bath to raise capital for the new Keynsham Leisure Centre. While it is understood negotiations are taking place between the Council and Topland, the property company which owns the lease on the Riverside, we understand they are resisting the Council’s approach. Derek Curnow, who owns a similar length lease on the Snooker Centre confirmed last week that he had so far received no contact from B&NES on the matter. This week, a spokesman for B&NES Council provided the following statement: “The Council is considering options for a new leisure facility in Keynsham to replace the existing one as part of the regeneration of the town centre. An option is Ashton Way car park. We anticipate confirming the location of a new leisure facility and submitting a planning application later in the year. Discussions with our partners about the future of the Riverside building and the Fire Service remain on-going.”