Controversial housing plans in Keynsham Conservation Area are refused

Plans to build up to four detached houses on a wooded site next to the Wellsway in Keynsham, which led to more than 90 objections, have been thrown out.

Chapel Hill Homes Ltd applied to Bath & North East Somerset Council for permission in principle (PiP) to build on the land next to Gooseberry Lane, which would involve extensive relevelling of the steeply sloping site.

The site is in the Green Belt and on the edge of Keynsham Conservation Area. The application was described by the developer as infill residential development on a busy road surrounded by housing, although outside of the housing development boundary; none of the trees have any preservation order and the site does not any ecological or nature designations.

Keynsham town councillors had objected, along with local residents, citing concerns including the impact on wildlife, the loss of trees and green space in the conservation area, and worries about access onto the B3116 Wellsway close to a zebra crossing used by hundreds of schoolchildren every day.

But the developer’s transport consultants said that data showed no evidence of an existing road safety issue near the site and all the houses would be accessed via individual private driveways from the Wellsway. Each would have two parking spaces and adequate turning space. The houses would be built to encourage working from home which would constrain vehicle movements onto the road network at peak times.

Refusing the application, B&NES planning officers said that given the lack of ecological information provided by the developer, it was not possible to know the impact on protected species and habitats, and the proposal would likely result in a net loss of biodiversity.

They said the “wholesale clearance, re-levelling and development” of the steeply sloping site would be significantly harmful to the significance, character and appearance of Keynsham Conservation Area and unacceptable in design terms.

They  were also concerned about overlooking and loss of privacy for Braeside Cottage at the bottom of Gooseberry Lane.