Major step forward for Keynsham Riverside redevelopment plan

October 07 2016

A scheme to transform Keynsham’s Riverside site will take a major step forward this month when plans are submitted to the council for consideration.

A scheme to transform Keynsham’s Riverside site will take a major step forward this month when plans are submitted to the council for consideration.

The proposals, which represent a £20 million investment by Bath and North East Somerset Council, will include the long-awaited redevelopment of Keynsham Leisure Centre and the conversion of the vacant office blocks into apartments, with the whole scheme pencilled in for completion by the end of 2018.

The plans, which followed two rounds of consultation with residents over the past year, were outlined at a public meeting at The Space on October 3 by Derek Quilter, director of B&NES’ property and project delivery division, where around 100 people gathered to find out how the community’s input had shaped the final scheme.

Mr Quilter said B&NES was now in a position to carry out its plans to extend and refurbish the leisure centre as it had acquired the premises above it.

As well as improvements to the leisure centre’s current facilities – such as the main pool, which is retaining most of its viewing gallery, and sports hall – a new extension will accommodate a learner pool with gym above, and new studio spaces and soft play area will be added in the former snooker centre.

In response to feedback, a sauna will be included as well as a new café with outdoor seating, Mr Quilter said, while concerns over plans for poolside showers and a new changing “village” had led them to revise the scheme to include separate showers and a mixture of changing village and separate male and female changing facilities.

The Riverside suite will be demolished to make way for parking as part of the scheme, with activities moving to the new studios in the leisure centre.

While there were some voices of dissent, with one in particular raising concerns that the pool would not be to competition standard, there was much support for the revised scheme.

Keynsham Amateur Swimming Club secretary David Beament told the meeting the club was “delighted” with the plans and it would be “the best 25-metre pool in Somerset”. Another resident, John Lane, said he felt “reassured” by the presentation that the council had taken notice of the community’s views.

Meanwhile, the former offices in the Riverside block will be completely revamped to accommodate 96 apartments with balconies and roof terraces while the shops and town council offices below will be refurbished. The building would be clad in white, with a darker colour above, while parts of the roof would be lowered to create the terrace gardens and reduce the building’s impact. Initial plans for student accommodation had been dropped following talks with Bath and Bath Spa universities, Mr Quilter said.

Concerns were raised, however, over the proposals for parking, with 72 spaces in the lower floor of the Civic Centre car park available to be allocated to residents – meaning there would be less than one per apartment.

One local trader urged the team to look again at parking as he said there was already not enough for shoppers and leisure centre visitors, while doubts were also raised about allocating off-peak permits for Bath Hill East car park to residents, with some questioning the security, and another resident saying car owners would park in already congested nearby roads. 

A potential use put forward for the former Keynsham Fire Station site could include an open market hall, with offices or apartments above, with a team appointed by Avon Fire and Rescue Service currently drawing up plans for the premises.

In keeping with the Market Walk development, the Riverside site would be fitted with photovoltaic panels on the roof to provide heating, with the aim of making the development carbon neutral.

Memories of building work in the town centre are obviously still fresh for many, with Mr Quilter assuring residents the Civic Centre car park would not be used for contractors’ equipment during the build. He said the pool would have to close at some point during the work, but this would be kept to a minimum, while traders would also need to move temporarily to allow for the shops to be revamped.

Once the plans are submitted to Bath and North East Somerset Council, they will be published at and members of the public will be able to comment during a formal consultation period.