B&NES Council has tonight announced details about the nine months of works to enhance Keynsham High Street that are set to start on Monday 24th May,
As we have reported recently, B&NES Council has been criticised for its lack of consultation with traders and the town council about the timing of the works, with upheaval just as local businesses try to get back on their feet after the easing of lockdown.
They was also no prior consultation over the closure of the free overflow car park in Station Road so that contractors working on the project can use it as their base.
The annual Keynsham town meeting at the end of April had been billed as a chance to find out about the plans but as it was held in the pre-election known as purdah, B&NES said that the project could not be discussed
Improvements had been due to start last year but were halted by the pandemic and temporary access restriction measures were put in place between Charlton Road and Bath Hill to enable social distancing. The council said that last year it invited views from the public and stakeholders on the detailed designs and specification of the scheme, both online and at a public exhibition, involving footpath widening, cycling and bus stop facilities, new street furniture, lighting and landscaping
More than 100 responses were received and respondents were asked to rank the design elements they considered would be the most successful. The top three most popular elements were the reconfigured bus stop, paving materials and the pedestrian crossings.
B&NES says that in response to the consultation feedback, further changes have been made to the final design. They include:
- Improvements to widen the High Street junctions at Charlton Road and Bath Hill as well as the access to the courtyard behind No. 69
- New paving to be installed in front of the Methodist Church to match the rest of the High Street
- Relocation of several planters to improve visibility and safety for cyclists and pedestrians
- Addition of dropped kerbs to disabled parking bays to improve accessibility
- Signage improvements to the cycle contraflow lane to help improve pedestrian and cyclist interaction at crossing and intersections
- A new shared use footway at the top of Bath Hill to assist cyclists to join the dedicated cycle lane
- An improved cycle stand design, making it easier to secure bikes and which complements existing stands/furniture in the area
B&NES Council says: “The public realm improvements will be constructed in short sections starting on the west side of the High Street outside the Methodist Church, continuing towards Bath Hill, then on the east side travelling from Charlton Road to Bath Hill. The work is expected to take nine months.
“The highway will only be restricted during the existing road closure which is in place for social distancing and will remain open unless a restriction is required by the construction programme. At the times the High Street will need to be closed to all traffic there will be a diversion around Ashton Way. These periods of closure will be announced and signed in advance so that people can plan their journeys.
“Temporary disabled bays will be available outside the HSBC Bank. The contraflow cycle lane will be closed when works to upgrade it are carried out or when necessary for safety reasons. The council and its contractor will be working closely with traders to minimise disruption and ensure access during trading hours. The temporary traffic restriction order and construction works will not prevent customers or traders from accessing their premises.”
The council says that using the overflow car park at Station Road for storage will minimise the impact of the construction work.
The scheme is being funded by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth and Getting Building Funds, administered by the West of England Combined Authority. It is also funded by the Combined Authority through its Love our High Streets programme.
Tonight Richard Samuel, B&NES Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources & Economic Development, said: “Thank you to businesses and residents in Keynsham for adapting to and supporting the temporary access restrictions measures on such short notice. As we recover from the global pandemic, we know how important it is to support our local town centres which played a vital role in supporting our local communities during this time. Making the high street an attractive and more spacious place to be will give people the confidence to return when they feel the time is right for them.
“These works are the first step in revitalising Keynsham town centre. They will also improve sustainable transport by encouraging more pedestrians, cyclists and bus users to continue to make short local trips by walking or wheeling. The town centre is set to benefit from significant investment over the next few years which will go a long way to keeping its position as a successful independent centre and the focus of Keynsham’s public life.”
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