Outcry as busy footpaths closed off near Keynsham development site

September 03 2018
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Residents say they were given no warning that a developer was going to close off two well-used footpaths in Keynsham – and without establishing an alternative route.

Walkers were surprised last month to find a public right of way leading from Broadmead Lane roundabout across fields to Teviot Road and an adjoining path leading to Saltford had been blocked by metal fencing.

Crest Nicholson has begun work on creating a new housing estate of 250 homes after it was given the final go-ahead by B&NES Council last month. The paths cross the site and the developer says they need to be closed for safety reasons.

However, Teviot Road resident and town councillor Bob Elcome says there has been a  lack of communication from the developer and Bath and North East Somerset Council to warn people who use the paths and no alternative route had been publicised or displayed at the site.

An order published by B&NES Council’s traffic management team and sent to Keynsham Town Council states the closure will come into effect on September 8 – weeks after the fences actually appeared.

The order says the closure is necessary as work will be carried out on or near the paths and is expected to be in effect for a maximum of five months, while a council spokesperson said the works could be completed as soon as December 12. The paths will be reopened once work is finished, the spokesperson added.

But Mr Elcome said the sudden closure meant Crest Nicholson had fallen short of being a “good neighbour” to existing residents in Keynsham.

He said: “Both paths are closed off for a section and as there’s no warning you can walk most of the way and then are confronted by a cul de sac where you have no choice but to turn around and go back.

People have been using the school playing fields, which is a workaround but there should be a publicised alternative route.

“There was a notification from Crest on a post at the Broadmead roundabout entrance but this has now been dug up and removed.

“There was no consultation with residents, which is not a requirement but would be nice. Crest have said they want to be good neighbours as they will be working here for three years. Those are nice words but that is all they are. With no notification and no alternative route, they are not trying to accommodate neighbours’ needs in any shape or form.

“People are really upset – the footpaths are used to get to Waitrose; there is no direct bus route into Bath or Bristol from this side of town so they’re used to access the main bus routes on Bath Road.

People who work on the industrial estates use them to get to work and schoolchildren use them – this is not being a good neighbour.”

A spokesperson for Crest Nicholson said: “The footpath at Bath Road, North Keynsham, is temporarily closed to safely facilitate site works. The safety of the local community is of paramount importance to us and the footpath will be closed until a safe route through the site has been established. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and are working with local stakeholders to investigate other options. Updates will be shared monthly on the site information board.”

Commenting on how such closures are publicised, the B&NES spokesperson said: “Notices of Intent for Keynsham are published in the Chew Valley Gazette, sent to the emergency services, the Public Rights of Way Team, the Bath Chamber of Commerce, local ward members and Keynsham Town Council. Information boards are erected on-site by the applicant/developer providing contact information. This is well above the statutory requirements.”

They added: “An alternative diversion route is suggested running along the A4 Bath Road. The responsibility of this remains with the applicant to inform members of the public through information boards.

The developer has considered an alternative route through their site but ruled this out for safety reasons and to avoid danger to members of the public.”

The closure order is due to be on the agenda for Keynsham Town Council’s planning committee in September.