While national bar and restaurant company Loungers has been confirmed as tenant for the cafe unit in the Civic Centre development, one Stockwood based company will not be coming the Keynsham because B&NES Council wants their shop for its own use. Eyeconic Photography has been looking to expand from its location on Hollway Road in Stockwood and in April it submitted an offer for the two shop units located on the lower ground floor (facing Bath Hill). DTZ, the agents handling the sale responded soon after and while stressing the deal was not finalised, suggested that Eyeconic began to instruct solicitors. Last week, they received another phone call to say that one of the units (no 12 on the plan below) was no longer available. It is our understanding that B&NES Council has earmarked this as the new venue for the Time Out youth service.
Speaking on behalf of Eyeconic, Laura Bartlett told us: “We’re devastated. We have outgrown our existing premises and had plans to knock the two lower ground units into one for a new studio and office. “Unfortunately, none of the other vacant units lend themselves to what we had in mind so we are back at square one. “Eyeconic Photography would have brought a lot of business into Keynsham as the vast majority of our customers travel from all around to our current studio.” Time Out currently operates from the ground floor of the Riverside, which as readers will be aware, has an uncertain future. However, there are no immediate plans to demolish it so the allocation of a prime retail unit at the expense of an independent business moving into Keynsham appears to be at odds with B&NES’ previously stated aims for the regeneration of the town. Currently, six of the twelve retail units in the Civic Centre development are still available to rent. In a statement, a B&NES Council spokesman told us:
“Bath & North East Somerset Council is working with Keynsham Town Council to provide an exciting new space within the town centre development for the Time Out Youth Service. The Town Council is consulting with young people in Keynsham on how best to meet their needs with a unit which is opposite the park and offers the space for them to have a mezzanine level with the potential to provide a variety of activities.
“DTZ is continuing to engage with interested traders to help accommodate their needs in the other available units.”
Cllr David Bellotti, Cabinet Member for Community Resources, said: “Time Out is a very successful organisation in Keynsham providing important facilities for young people. When our new Council development opens in October we need to make sure they have a permanent home to continue and develop their work with young people further. I am very pleased that Keynsham Town Council will consult young people so that the future facilities will be the best we can provide.”
Elsewhere, the arrival of Loungers ends months of speculation over the occupier of the 4700 sq ft catering unit. Started by three Bristol businessmen in 2012 as The Lounge in North Street, Bedminster, there are now approaching 50 lounges across the country. These include locations in Bath, Westbury-on-Trym, Cotham and the popular Porto Lounge in Fishponds. Estate agents DTZ have now updated their sales material for Keynsham’s Market Place development to include the fact that Sainsbury’s and Loungers have been signed up, accounting for almost 60% of the available space. Another Keynsham cafe is believed to be at an advanced stage of negotiation and curiously, the updated sales brochure (see top) seems to infer that another national retailer is in the frame. When we contacted Argos they told us they were unaware of any plans to open in Keynsham.