Breaches Gate group to raise pollution concerns with planning inspector over Keynsham development

September 02 2016

Residents opposed to a new housing development on the edge of Keynsham will tell a planning inspector the proposal represents “too much traffic, too many houses and too many assumptions”.

Residents opposed to a new housing development on the edge of Keynsham will tell a planning inspector the proposal represents “too much traffic, too many houses and too many assumptions”.

Representatives of the Friends of Breaches Gate group will be speaking at a hearing being held this month to examine Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Placemaking Plan, which sets out plans for future development across the district.

The group says it will argue that the development – which could eventually contain up to 500 homes – will add to local pollution and congestion, going against council commitments to improve air quality.

The Breaches Gate group was set up in 2014 when residents first learned of propsals by B&NES to remove land to the east of Keynsham – bordered by Teviot Road, Manor Road Community Woodland and the A4 – from the green belt.

The move – part of the area’s Core Strategy – was approved, however, after the strategy was given the go-ahead by a government inspector.

Developer Mactaggart and Mickel revealed its plans for 500 homes on the site in January 2016, submitting an outline planning application for the first phase of 250 homes and a primary school soon after.

This month planning inspector Claire Sherratt is hearing views from a number of residents and groups from across B&NES on a wide range of topics and sites before deciding whether the Placemaking

Plan is legally compliant and meets national policy and will make recommendations to the council.

Bob Elcome-Thorpe, one of the founders of the Friends of Breaches Gate, said the aim of speaking at the hearing was to ensure the inspector had a clear view of how residents living near the earmarked site on the edge of Keynsham felt.

“As such our main message will be that this is an inappropriate development, from both a location and size point of view it is too much,” he said.

“The modified plan from Mactaggart and Mickel, while admirable in attempts to offer something that is acceptable, still does not address key questions. What will happen to the extra traffic? This is a major concern now, so when we have another 500 vehicle movements during each period of peak traffic, basing figures on another planning application in Keynsham, how will the local infrastructure cope?

“The whole plan seems to be in contradiction to both the B&NES’ Core Strategy and the South West Spatial Plan. These two documents both hold a commitment to reduce pollution and promote developments that do not add to either pollution or congestion. This plan will do both.”

The residents’ group is also pointing to the fact that the development, which will be accessed via junctions onto the well-used A4 Bath Road, is close to Saltford’s Air Quality Management Area, a stretch of the A4 where excessive nitrogen dioxide levels have been recorded, leading B&NES to draw up an Air Quality Action Plan this year to reduce air pollutants.

Mr Elcome-Thorpe added: “The effect on Saltford of 900-plus extra vehicle movements a day, controlled by two traffic light junctions, will be significant. All this with the encouragement of B&NES not to use a car to travel but to get out in the pollution and walk and cycle! Buses are not a reliable option as the main bus transport provider is cancelling bus routes in Keynsham, thus making sure that people use their cars.”

Following a public exhibition by Mactaggart and Mickel which invited views on its masterplan for the site in January, a spokesperson for the firm told Keynshamvoice: “The land at East Keynsham was formally identified as part of a mixed use allocation in B&NES Core Strategy… One of the main concerns at the consultation was the possibility of additional traffic on the A4 Bath Road. B&NES has completed an extensive modelling on the site before confirming its formal allocation.”

A decision by B&NES planning chiefs on whether to give the go-ahead to Mactaggart and Mickel’s proposals – which have attracted 300 letters of objection – is yet to be made.

The Breaches Gate group says, while residents still hoped the proposals could be withdrawn, any development on the site should be smaller with a school, health centre and facilities for older people.

The council has previously said that it had ensured the opportunity for communities to be involved in the detailed planning of the site by requiring the developer to draw up a masterplan with public consultation.