Plans for a new Keynsham industrial estate have been refused over concerns about the access on an already congested A4 Bath Road.
Last month B&NES Council’s planning committee delayed a decision on the scheme, which was being recommended for approval, until they had visited the site.
On Wednesday they reconvened when members voted six to four against the outline planning application from Places for People Strategic Land for up to 5,700sq m of flexible use, including light and general industrial and storage and distribution.
In 2014, when the land was removed from the Green Belt and earmarked for employment purposes, access was shown from Worlds End Lane, which links from the industrial areas of Pixash Lane, Ashmead Road and Unity Road. But the planning application showed vehicular access from the layby near the Esso filling station, with only pedestrian and cycle access onto Worlds End Lane.
Most of the concerns from residents, plus Keynsham Town Council and Saltford Parish Council and Saltford Environment Group, were about highway safety.
Keynsham councillor Andy Wait told the committee that the council should be planning how to remove HGVs from Bath Road.
Saltford councillor Duncan Hounsell reminded the committee of the proposals for rapid transit on the A4 and that the council had declared a climate emergency.
But a representative for the developer told the committee the scheme was “safe, sustainable and deliverable”, and maintained: “A main vehicular access from Worlds End Lane is not technically possible due to the narrowness of the country lane and pinch points in land ownership that prevent widening.”
He also said the proposals fit into the allocation-wide masterplan agreed by the planning committee in July as part of the council’s new Pixash Lane waste and recycling centre planning application.
However, Cllr Hounsell said there had been no public consultation on that masterplan: “At the planning meeting in July we considered the recycling site. This so-called masterplan diagram was shown on screen for under 10 seconds and it was the 197th document on the website. I don’t think there was anybody on the committee who thought we were dealing with two planning applications at the same time.
“In no way did I think we were being bound by what we were being shown, our focus was solely on the Pixash Lane waste and recycling site.”
The council’s planning officer acknowledged that access from Worlds End Lane could not categorically be ruled but the Bath Road access was acceptable and safe: “We have to look at the scheme in front of us, not an alternative that we may prefer.”
Cllr Lucy Hodge said she did not have confidence in the data in the transport report and agreed with Cllr Hounsell, saying: “I don’t believe the public has been consulted on this masterplan. It was hidden within another document that a lot of us did not even notice.”
She added that Wellsway School in Keynsham should be commended on the number of children walking and cycling “on this incredibly dangerous road”: “One articulated lorry trying to get out of that junction too quickly could cause a collision that could wipe out a whole number of children on that road coming home from school.”
However, Cllr Vic Pritchard said: “The A4 is not a dangerous road, it is a very, very busy road.” He also commended schoolchildren for travelling it in a safe manner.
The committee’s reasons for refusal were that the application was not accompanied by a comprehensive masterplan that had been subject to public consultation and does not include direct highway access from Pixash Lane (via Worlds End Lane) as the policy initially stated; and that access onto the A4 would mean exiting vehicles experiencing excessive delays which could lead to drivers making unsafe manoeuvres.
The developer has the right to appeal.
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