Keynsham’s town centre regeneration programme reached a significant milestone today with the formal topping out ceremony performed by representatives from B&NES and Keynsham Town Councils and builders Willmott Dixon. A ceremonial bolt was secured in place followed by a traditional topping out ceremony including the placing of a yew tree branch and sprinkling of wine, oil, corn and salt.
The construction having reached its highest point, work will shortly focus on the fitting out of the site to create a new civic centre, council one stop shop, library, offices and retail units. Work is on schedule for completion in 12 months time.
An agent has been appointed to handle the marketing of the retail sites which will commence on 1st November. David Bellotti, the B&NES Cabinet Member responsible for the project says that two independent Keynsham businesses have already expressed interest in taking retail units. He remained tight lipped though on the identity of the likely occupiers of the two anchor sites. While negotiations are close to conclusion on one of them he told The Week In that all interested parties currently in contact with the Council are national firms with no current presence in Keynsham. While the shop fronting Bath Hill was originally designed for a food retailer, it appears there has also been interest from restaurant operators.
The office space will provide workspace for 400 staff and B&NES, together with partner agencies will employ over 600 in Keynsham using ‘hot desking’ methods. Among the partner agencies joining staff transferring from the Riverside will be representatives from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Avon Pension Fund management and the police.
Speaking to an assembled audience prior to the topping out ceremony, Cllr Bellotti congratulated Willmott Dixon on their performance to date. He explained that the selection process had relied on several criteria including local employment policy and the recycling of the demolished material. With the project on time and on budget he said the Council had not a single regret over its ultimate choice of contractor.