Parking concerns over Treetops flats plan

REVISED plans to build flats on the site of the former Treetops care home have been criticised by Keynsham Town Council.

Since the facility in St Clements Road closed in 2018, there have been repeated attempts to redevelop the site.

The empty building has also become the target of anti-social behaviour, with young people causing damage and starting fires.

An application to demolish the building and construct 39 flats was dismissed by a planning inspector in April 2022, and an attempt to get permission for 30 apartments was turned down by Bath and North East Somerset Council later in the year.

Last autumn, Treetops submitted a new bid to knock down the building – which was constructed in 1992 – and build 36 flats on the site in two three-storey buildings.

Revised plans now submitted to Bath and North East Somerset Council propose 36 “high quality apartments, with a good residential mix of one, two and three bedrooms, contributing to the developing character of Keynsham suburbs and addressing housing need.”

A total of 30 car parking spaces would be provided, as well as another five to be shared with the adjoining Temple House Health Centre. There would also be 79 covered cycle spaces.

But Keynsham Town Council has objected to the scheme, saying it is “totally contrary” to what is proposed in B&NES Council’s Local Plan Partial Review, which suggests there is space for only about 30 homes.

The town council describes the project as “incongruous and an overdevelopment”, saying it would spoil the look of the location on the edge of a conservation area.

It is also critical of the number of “affordable” homes that would be built.

“No viability appraisal appears to have been submitted in respect of the developer’s calculations equating to only 7.1 affordable homes, whereas we believe the 30% affordable housing contribution based upon a total of 36 dwellings should equate to 11 affordable dwellings – a number that Keynsham Town Council would expect for a development of this size.”

The town council adds: “The application fails to demonstrate adequate accessibility, car and cycle parking and cycle and vehicular access for the proposed development.”

The plans have attracted about 70 objections on the B&NES Council planning portal, from people concerned about parking in St Clements Road and the health centre, as well as the traffic threat to the safety of children using the road to get to and from Wellsway School.

The manager of a GP practice in the health centre states: “I have huge concerns of the impact on our patients. There will be no policing of the parking, and residents will use health centre parking, preventing our patients being able to.”

One objector complained: “One and two-bed flats are needed at an affordable price in our community. Here flats are crammed in with minimal outside space and inadequate parking facilities. “Sustainable” here is not met by any improvement of local infrastructure such as buses or trains, childcare or schools. It is a word used by a developer to market poor parking facilities.”

It is not clear when B&NES Council expects to make a decision on the planning application.