Councillors vow to continue fight for Somerdale traffic improvements

Councillors representing the area of Keynsham which includes the Somerdale Cadbury factory have vowed to continue to campaign for action to tackle the additional traffic caused by the development.

The promise comes after plans to build up to 700 new homes at the site of the former chocolate factory were given the go-ahead by Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Development Control Committee last Wednesday 25th September.

In addition to the new homes, the development will include provision for new employment space within the part of old factory building, as well as a new Fry Club, sports facilities, a Primary School and care home.

Although councillors on the planning committee raised concerns over the impact of the development on the town’s road network, they decided against making a second access to the site a requirement of the planning permission. Councillors did however back the need for an over-arching transport plan to be developed for Keynsham to cope with the additional traffic of numerous developments.

The area’s local councillors Charles Gerrish and Brian Simmons (Cons, Keynsham North) have said that whilst they are broadly supportive of the overall development, they are disappointed that funding for a second access route was not secured as part of the planning permission.

They have said the focus now must shift to developing a transport plan for the town and seeking alternative funding to deliver improved transport links to the Somerdale site.

Cllr Brian Simmons, who spoke of the need for a second access route at the committee meeting, said:

“We’re obviously disappointed that the planning committee decided against making a second access a requirement of the Somerdale development. However, councillors did at least recognise the desperate need to develop a proper transport plan for Keynsham in order to ensure our town’s infrastructure can cope with the numerous developments coming forward in the years ahead.

“The majority of residents broadly support the plans for the Somerdale site, particularly the new jobs, new Fry Club and affordable homes. But we must get the traffic issues sorted to ensure our roads can cope.”

Fellow Councillor Charles Gerrish (Cons, Keynsham North) added:

“The focus now for the Council should be to develop an overarching transport plan for Keynsham as a matter of priority. The traffic impact of the Somerdale development will be felt throughout most of the town. Therefore, the Council has to recognise the need for additional infrastructure to avoid unacceptable levels of congestion.

“The Council should now start to identify alternative ways in which a second access route to the Somerdale site could be funded. For instance, the Council should look at the possibility of securing infrastructure funding through the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.

“The main thing is for the Council to produce a comprehensive strategy which demonstrates what infrastructure which will be needed to address the additional traffic caused by the various new developments taking place in the coming years.”

The Council will ultimately gain in the region of £4.5 million from the Somerdale development in the form of New Homes Bonus payments, which is where the Government matches the Council Tax gained from each new home built. Local Conservatives have said this ought to be used towards infrastructure improvements for Keynsham.