New Keynsham industrial estate branded ‘a recipe for disaster’

Concerns about the impact of a new Keynsham industrial estate on local residents and the already congested A4 Bath Road are troubling councillors who have delayed a decision on whether to grant permission.

At their meeting on Thursday, members of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s planning committee agreed to visit the site where the developer proposes vehicular access from the layby near the Esso filling station.

In the masterplan that was agreed in 2014, when the land was removed from the Green Belt and earmarked for employment purposes, access is shown from Worlds End Lane, which links from the industrial areas of Pixash Lane, Ashmead Road and Unity Road.

Councillors heard that the reason for the change is that third party land ownership constraints prevent a minimum 6.5-metre wide carriageway being provided into the site from Worlds End Lane.

There would be pedestrian and cycle access onto Worlds End Lane from the site in the scheme which has been submitted by Places for People Strategic Land. It seeks outline consent for up to 5,700sq m of flexible use, including light and general industrial and storage and distribution.

The council’s highways team has not objected to the plans, which the planners recommended for approval subject to conditions including limiting the hours of operation from 7am to 7pm Monday to Saturday and 9am to 5pm on Sundays and bank holidays.

However, more than 140 objections to the plans were received however, with concerns including gridlock on the A4, the impact of HGVs turning in and out of the access and the increase in air pollution.

Some objectors felt that the impacts of Bath’s new Clean Air Zone on traffic using the A4 had not been factored in and that the proposals would have a negative impact on air quality. Several comments considered that the proposals needed to take into account the cumulative impact of development alongside other recently permitted and upcoming developments in the East Keynsham area.

Keynsham Town Council said that any new development between Keynsham and Saltford must be preceded, not followed, by new transport infrastructure to prevent further congestion and gridlock at peak periods.

Saltford Parish Council felt the application “grossly underestimates” the vehicle movements which would have significant consequences for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, including pupils attending local schools.

Keynsham councillor Andy Wait told Thursday’s meeting: “As we have seen elsewhere in Keynsham, having a B2 (general industrial) site so close to many houses is a recipe for disaster. There is no reason why another concrete-making plant could not go there, or even an iron foundry. Light industrial use should be the maximum allowable activity on the site.

“I urge you to oppose this development on the basis that traffic mitigation is required, and the type of industrial activity being considered is inappropriate for the site, together with a lack of detailed consideration for carbon neutrality and biodiversity.”

He added: “It has been accepted planning policy that no new building developments can be approved in Keynsham without prior traffic mitigation initiatives. For this development to make any sense, the extension of Avon Mill Lane to the north of Keynsham linking up with the A4 alongside this proposed development is crucial.”

He said that Worlds End Lane was being considered as too narrow for a vehicular access but the planners also point out that Worlds End Lane will be widened when the new road comes through. He stressed: “This new road to the north of Keynsham needs to be built before this parcel can be developed.”

Cllr Wait said there had been significant extra development on this stretch of the A4, with the new nursing home at Pixash Lane, the increased traffic going to the Hygge Park development, the recycling plant at Pixash Lane expanding and traffic from the proposed Withies Green housing estate being added to the A4.

“Together with all those additions, we have the proposed metrobus and mass transit systems as well. We should be planning to find out a way of removing trucks from this section, not adding to them. We need the extension of Avon Mill Lane to carry these vehicles away from this bottleneck section.”

Cllr Wait said there was “nowhere near enough consideration of the green issues for this climate and ecological emergency council”.

Cllr Shaun Hughes agreed, saying: “The infrastructure to bring traffic in through Worlds End Lane should be created before you even think about building on these sites and if Worlds End Lane isn’t suitable to create an access, then maybe the site isn’t suitable to become an industrial zone.”

Keynsham councillor Hal MacFie said if there was an exit on to Worlds End Lane, HGVs would be able to get to the roundabout at Broadmead and go on to the Ring Road without passing a single house. He pointed out that the council owns land at Worlds End Lane,a dding: “There is no reason not to have a good access there.”

He warned that under the proposals there could be a cement works doing 150 vehicle movements a day at one end of the site and a distribution centre doing another 150 at the other end.

Senior planning officer Chris Griggs-Trevarthen told the meeting that there would not be restrictions on type of uses within agreed classes but they would be subject to environmental protection legislation around unreasonable noise.  He said that nearby residents already face on to very busy A4 and a proposed 10-metre buffer for ecological reasons around the site would also provide acoustic and visual screening.

Saltford ward councillor Duncan Hounsell said that there is meant to be rapid transport between Bristol and Bath with metrobus and queried how the development was compatible with that. The planning officer said he had not received any comments from the highways team about the development that would prejudice the metrobus proposals.

Councillors voted to visit the site to look at both the A4 and Worlds End Lane before making a decision. Cllr Lucy Hodge said that the visit should be either at 8.30am or 3.30pm to coincide with times when children are on their way to or from school.

How the developer would fund improvements

As part of the scheme, the “substandard” pedestrian refuge island by the layby that would be used for the access would be relocated further to the east. The one by the Esso garage would also be upgraded.

The developer would give £104,103 for improving the walking and cycling route on Bath Road or other sustainable transport measures.

Other allocations would include £14,625 for providing local bus services to residential areas of Saltford and Keynsham.

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