'Good for trade, bad for traffic'
Traders give mixed reaction to hotel plan
The former fire station is between the Riverside residential development,
PLANS for a boutique hotel in Keynsham have met a mixed response from traders who welcome the boost in spending power but not at the expense of congested roads.
Business owners say they support plans to turn the former fire station in Temple Street into a 42-bed hotel ‘with a modern look’ in principle.
They say the proposed hotel would increase footfall in what is becoming known as the ‘independent quarter’ and would bring more tourists to the town.
However, they fear the development will come at a price with further congestion clogging up town centre roads when ‘everyone’s already suffered enough.’
Plans from the Phoenix Group have been submitted to demolish the fire station and build the six-storey building, which includes nine two-bed flats, two shops, and a 45-seat restaurant. The proposals also include a 20-space underground car park
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and spaces for 36 bikes. The exterior appearance is intended to complement the design of the neighbouring Civic Centre buildings. The plans state they set “a high-quality benchmark against which future proposals will be assessed and establishes a modern architectural character to this part of Temple Street”.
Megan Patten, who works at Bragg Hair Studio, said: “Opening a hotel is a great idea. We should be doing all we can to encourage more people to come to the town and spend money.
“There are not many hotels around here so it is just what Keynsham needs. It would be something a little different for the High Street.
“The only problem may be a lack of parking, especially as parking is already a massive issue around here.”
Nedim Orak, the owner of Pomegranate, said: “It’s all very positive. It’s a great idea and much better than the ugly building that is there now.
“It will bring new people to this end of the High Street and hopefully put Keynsham on the map.”
Clive Oliver from Keynsham Hardware said most of his customers were simply asking ‘what do we need a hotel for?’
He said: “Personally I have mixed feelings. It’s great that something is finally going to happen to the fire station and anything that gets people to this end of town is good.
“But it would mean even more building work and more disruption. Temple Street has already had six years of that.”
Cat Midgley from Temple Street Canteen said: “We’re not going to complain about more people being brought to the town, especially when it livens up this end of the High Street.
“People are going to complain about the extra traffic and parking, but that comes with every development.”
But Bronwyn Clark, manager of Shake Express, said she had different views as a trader and as a life-long resident of Keynsham.
She said: “As a trader, it’s a great idea as we’d obviously welcome the additional customers.
“But as a resident I think there’s already too much tourist accommodation for a small town. There’s also not enough parking as it is, so this will just make the situation worse. There’s also constantly going to be roadworks so there will be even more hold-ups on the roads.”
Keynsham South Councillor Alan Hale said the proposed hotel development would be seen by many as “a difficult decision.”
He said: “If someone is bringing development to the town, it’s a good thing. But the trouble will be the traffic, the roads and the parking.
“The old fire station can’t stay as it is and Temple Street needs to be developed so everything doesn’t stop at Rock Road.
“This hotel would be well suited as Temple Street has become the independent quarter, but only if all concerns are addressed.”
The Temple Street fire station, in between the Civic Centre and the Riverside development, closed in November 2015 as the new station opened at Hicks Gate.
The site is currently being used as a works depot for the Riverside residential development after a plan to build flats was withdrawn last year.
Phoenix Group’s plans say: “The boutique hotel in this central position will be a great asset to the future of Keynsham and would act as a hub for access to both Bath and Bristol and encourage value-added areas of employment.”
Public consultation is open until December 5, with Bath and North East Somerset Council expected to make a decision early next year.