Council flats approved for Keynsham town centre

TEN flats are set to be built “right in the heart of Keynsham town centre” to help create more council housing.

The apartments – which will all be social-rented – will be built across two blocks in Danes Lane, opposite the Tesco car park.

The site, behind the Old Bank pub in the High Street, occupies council-owned land currently used as spare parking.

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee voted to grant planning permission for the scheme, which is being developed by the council’s building company Aequus.

Chris Beaver, agent for Aequus, told the committee: “The proposed homes will contribute towards meeting the council’s general housing land supply, but more importantly will meet a clear and acute need for affordable housing in Keynsham itself.”

At the time of submitting the application, there were more than 700 people on the social housing waiting list in the town. But concerns were raised that residents of the new flats could be disturbed by noise from the nearby pub.

Councillor Eleanor Jackson (Radstock, Labour) said: “What would happen if the residents of this new block were to find the proximity of the pub and the noise generated intolerable? Would that threaten, say, live music performances or the operation of said pub?”

Council officers said that residents would have to raise that later, but the noise for the new flats had been assessed as being acceptable. Acoustic glass is set to be used in the flats to reduce external noise.

Cllr Hal McFie (Keynsham East, Liberal Democrat) added that a test for noise levels had been carried out.

He said: “And they’ve gone on to say that when it’s built they will do the test again and prove that it is within the standard, so I don’t think that they can do much more than that.”

Chair of the planning committee, Ian Halsall (Oldfield Park, Liberal Democrat) said: “It’s an awkward site and it’s great that we can see 100% affordable delivered right in the heart of Keynsham town centre.

“The design of the buildings seems to fit in quite well in the context. It’s very clear that the noise concerns have been overcome.”

Six of the flats will have one bedroom and four will have two bedrooms. Each of the two blocks would be three storeys with pitched roofs and brick walls around the ground-floor exterior.

The scheme includes 20 secure cycle spaces, three car parking spaces with electric vehicle charging, and a motorcycle space.

Parking will be located in an undercroft beneath block two, which will be set back from the road to avoid interfering with the right of way that gives access onto the High Street.

Construction work is due to start later this year and the finished flats will be available through Homesearch, the council’s housing allocation scheme for social rent homes and low-cost home ownership.

The council’s Liberal Democrat administration has named building more council houses as a priority.

In 2023, Bath and North East Somerset Council welcomed tenants into its first council housing in more than 20 years after former offices in a villa on Newbridge Hill were converted into flats. The council also recently converted two council properties in Bath into temporary accommodation.

John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporting Service