An inspector appointed by the Secretary of State has rejected an appeal to build a new industrial estate just off the A4 Bath Road in Keynsham.
Developer Places for People Strategic Land appealed after their plans for up to 5,700sq m of flexible use, including light and general industrial and storage and distribution, were blocked by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s planning committee last December.
In 2014, when the land was removed from the Green Belt and earmarked for employment, 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 garage on the A4, with only pedestrian and cycle access onto Worlds End Lane.
Most of the concerns from local residents, plus Keynsham Town Council and Saltford Parish Council and Saltford Environment Group, were about highway safety.
Although B&NES Council’s planning officer had recommended approval of the scheme, the planning committee’s reasons for refusal were that the application was not accompanied by a comprehensive masterplan that had been subject to public consultation, and that the access was not via Worlds End Lane as the policy initially stated. The committee felt that access onto the A4 would mean exiting vehicles experiencing excessive delays which could lead to drivers making unsafe manoeuvres.
The developer had argued that a main vehicular access from Worlds End Lane was not technically possible due to the narrowness of the country lane and pinch points in land ownership that prevent widening. They also said the proposals fitted into the allocation-wide masterplan agreed by the planning committee as part of the council’s new Pixash Lane waste and recycling centre planning application.
But the inspector has ruled that the masterplan was not submitted with Places for People Strategic Land’s bid and was not consulted on as part of the planning application process.
“The policy does not state that vehicle access should not be taken from Bath Road. However, by proposing an alternative vehicle access to the site, the proposed development would run counter to the aims of the policy, which seeks the most suitable and convenient access point onto the strategy road network from the employment site.”
The inspector added that negotiations over land ownership were some time ago, prior to recent developments to the west, including the road improvements currently being carried out on Worlds End Lane for the new recycling hub. “Based on the evidence before me, I am not convinced that all options to provide a primary vehicle access to Pixash Lane via Worlds End Lane have been fully explored.”
The inspector concluded that there was no harm to highway safety, the proposal would still be harmful as it undermines the council’s development strategy for employment allocation.