Bid made to buy former Keynsham fire station for community

Published on: 05 May 2017

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A bid has been submitted to buy Keynsham’s former fire station and turn it into a community centre.

Keynsham Town Council hopes to purchase the Temple Street site and redevelop it for residents’ use in a £3 million scheme.

The fire station was put on the market by Avon Fire and Rescue last month, with agents Alder King asking potential buyers to submit their best bids by April 28, with the council and other bidders now awaiting the outcome.

Keynsham town clerk Dr Cheryl Scott said: “Based upon input from residents as part of the Town Plan consultation undertaken in 2011 and latterly the Neighbourhood Development Plan launch in April 2016, it is clear that residents feel strongly that there should be additional community facilities in the centre of Keynsham.

“When the fire station was put on the market unexpectedly last month, given its position between the library and the leisure centre, there were renewed calls that it be developed as a community facility rather than be acquired for commercial or residential development.”

Alder King said it had been “inundated” with inquiries within days of the site being marketed, with a wide range of uses in mind.

The town council hasn’t committed to spending any money on the scheme and plans to carry out a widespread consultation with residents in coming weeks on its proposals, including a one-off rise in the council tax precept to cover the costs.

Dr Scott said: “A project of this magnitude obviously needs to be financed, so in March the town council agreed to apply to the Secretary of State for approval to borrow from the Public Works Loan Board at
a fixed interest rate for the lifetime of the loan up to 50 years. Interest rates are currently at their lowest for many years, so if the town council were going to borrow at any time for a capital project, now is the best time to do so.

“Obviously, the town council has not committed itself to any expenditure at present – merely put itself in a position that should its offer prove attractive to the vendors then it could be in a position to proceed.”

Suggestions from the public for the site have included a multi-purpose space for events and markets, a visitor centre, a heritage centre or museum, meeting rooms and an enterprise hub/hot desk facility for start-ups and community organisations.

No one from Alder King was available for comment at the time of going to press.

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