Keynsham redevelopment scheme given go-ahead
A hotly-debated £33 million redevelopment for the centre of Keynsham was today given planning permission.
Bath and North East Somerset Council this afternoon gave itself consent to replace the existing town hall with a new development of shops, a library, restaurants, public spaces and offices for its staff.
The buildings have already been stripped to prepare for demolition and the scheme is expected to be completed by the autumn of 2014.
B&NES had revised the detailed design of the complex after criticism from some local people, and the town’s civic society.
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B&NES cabinet member for community resources Councillor David Bellotti (Lib Dem, Lyncombe) said: “This scheme will bring new jobs, greater prosperity, and an improved look and feel to Keynsham. It is excellent news that momentum is generating for this project following the approval of these plans as the council works in partnership with the local community to breathe new, vibrant life into Keynsham.”
Council leader Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib Dem, Southdown) added: “The revamp of the centre is one part of our overall plans for the town which include the redevelopment of Somerdale and the Riverside building that the council will vacate. A vastly improved town centre will encourage private sector investment into Keynsham resulting in new jobs, new homes and opportunities for local people.”
These views were backed up by Councillor Gill Hellier, chair of Keynsham Town Council, who urged the committee to allow work to begin quickly.
She said: “To paraphrase the view of many of the people I have spoken to, ‘can you please get on with it as soon as possible’.”
Councillor Brian Organ (Con, Keynsham East) agreed, adding: “I want this to go ahead. Keynsham can’t stand still. We can’t accept a disaster area in the middle of town, with empty shops and an empty town hall. Let’s go ahead with this.”
However Roger Busby, from the civic society, was still opposed to the scheme, saying it “lacked any local distinctiveness”.
Committee members voted 12 to 1 in favour of the plans, with only Councillor Nicholas Coombes (Lib Dem, Bathwick), voicing any concerns.
Around 2,000 people attended three exhibitions held over the past year and the scheme was deferred by a meeting of B&NES’s development control committee in August to allow changes to the roof design and a reduction in the amount of brass used.
Options and negotiations for the demolition and redevelopment of the Riverside building - which currently houses council staff who will move to the new offices - are continuing. Ideas include housing, including town houses and retirement accommodation for older people.
For more information go to www.bathnes.gov.uk/keynshamregen.