Keynsham residents urged to fight against homes

RESIDENTS in Keynsham have been told to fight proposed house building in their area to stop developers having their way.

More than 140 people packed a public meeting at The Space to hear details of sites identified by Bath and North East Somerset Council for potential development.

The council’s new Local Plan will form the basis for determining planning applications until 2042. An options document has gone out for public consultation with a new deadline of April 16, extended from April 8.

B&NES cabinet councillor Matt McCabe told the meeting the government has stipulated that 14,500 new homes must be built in the council’s area over the period of the plan.

With existing commitments, that means finding sites for just over 6,000 extra homes.

Potential sites identified include north Keynsham (1,500 homes), Hicks Gates (850), south-east Keynsham (350), west Keynsham (100-300), east of Avon Mill Lane (160) and central Keynsham (40-100).

Councillor Andy Wait, who chaired the meeting, said it was important that residents took part in the consultation as it was not a “done deal.”

But some people at the meeting thought it was exactly that, believing that too few sites had been identified to allow any “wriggle room” for them to be rejected.

A big concern raised at the meeting was the town’s general lack of infrastructure and roads in particular.

Councillor Alan Hale said he had lived in the town since 1957.

“The only major infrastructure change in that time has been the building of the bypass, and houses have continued to be built.”

He said Charlton Road was already unable to cope with the “ridiculous” amount of traffic.

And he received applause when he added: “Until we have a proper infrastructure, we shouldn’t be building any more homes.”

A woman who lives near Waitrose said: “If we build in north Keynsham, how will people get onto the bypass? Traffic throughout Keynsham is horrendous. The A4 can’t take any more.”

And another resident said: “We’re talking about homes without the roads. We want the roads first.”

Councillor McCabe said the problem was that the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) was failing to provide strategic direction on transport.

He was referring to a decision by metro mayor Dan Norris, who heads WECA, to stop work on the region’s spatial development strategy, citing a lack of agreement from the district councils involved – B&NES, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.

But one resident said: “If you haven’t got control over both, you don’t have a plan.”

Mr McCabe said that, despite residents’ concerns, it was vital to have a Local Plan. Otherwise, there would be a developers’ free-for-all which would result in Keynsham and Saltford being almost completely joined-up.

“We can’t afford for our Local Plan to fail,” he said.

Other concerns voiced at the meeting included whether developers would meet the council’s target of 20% biodiversity net gain, as this would require a lot of land.

One resident stated his concerns about new homes eating into the flood plain, exacerbating the problems caused by extreme weather.

“Keynsham is experiencing the effects of climate change right now,” he said. “The roads are getting flooded out and this is happening now.”

Other residents expressed sadness at the loss of the natural environment.

A man who lives in Lays Drive said: “One of the sites you’re talking about will be at the bottom of my garden. Every year it has a lovely crop on the field. if you’re going to build all these houses, what are you going to eat?”

Another Lays Drive resident said he has fed rare red badgers in his back garden.

“We get deer, all sorts of wildlife, and that will be lost to the community.”

He and others expressed a lack of confidence in B&NES Council planners, especially when they put forward suggestions such as building homes on the Tesco car park, an idea that was branded “hopeless”.

Councillor Andy Wait said he agreed with the concerns expressed.

He pointed out that the consultation document stated the aspiration to have attractive, healthy, sustainable communities.

He said: “I don’t think Keynsham is an attractive, healthy sustainable community now. So if a load more housing is put onto it, this will only make it worse. What I really want is to not give up, because it would be very easy to do so.”

He said of the proposed developments: “This certainly will happen if we don’t make an effort to fight it. We have to do the best we can.”

You can respond to the public consultation online at or by post to Local Plan Consultation, B&NES, Lewis House, Manvers Street, Bath BA1 1JG. The deadline for responses is Tuesday April 16.