Care home trust to take former Keynsham chocolate factory into the future

Published on: 30 Jun 2015

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Work is due to begin in just days on transforming the red-brick buildings of Keynsham’s former chocolate factory into a retirement village and employment space.

The Bristol-based St Monica Trust is now at the helm of the £60 million development, which will create a 105-bed care home in the central block and 120 assisted living apartments in Block A, the closest to the Somerdale entrance.

Block C, with the iconic Cadbury's sign on its front, will become employment space, while the proposals also include retail outlets and potentially a restaurant, hairdressing salon, leisure suite, pharmacy and GP surgery. It is expected that along with the care home the employment space will offer around 1,000 jobs.

Asbestos removal will begin on July 6 and take 10 weeks while demolition inside Block C gets under way in August, soon after which the changes will become noticeable from the outside when the Cadbury’s sign is taken down. The development work is being undertaken by Andrew Wilson Partnership.

An official handover by MF Freeman, which oversaw the planning process, to the St Monica Trust was held on June 12 and joint managing director Luke Freeman said he was pleased to have secured the landmark buildings’ future. He added: "Our relationship with the St Monica Trust is based upon sharing our vision of delivering a high quality mixed-use scheme, which preserves more of the original buildings and maintains the integrity of the heritage of this iconic site.”

The Somerdale project will be the fifth retirement village developed by the St Monica Trust, a charity set up by Henry and Monica Wills in 1925 to provide care and service for older people.

There are links between the histories of the Somerdale site and the trust, as there was contact between the philanthropic Fry and Wills families and, said chief executive of the St Monica Trust, David Williams, a number of former employees now live at the trust’s retirement villages.

He said: “Maintaining the heritage and rich history of such iconic buildings is very important to the trust. Our founding Cote Lane site is a Grade II-listed building and our most recent development at Sandford Station retained all of the site’s original railway buildings, which means we have a strong track record in that respect.”

People will be able to take their first look inside the transformed buildings early next year when a show flat and offices open at Easter and all work is due for completion by the following Easter, in 2017.

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