Residents' safety fears over access for lorries
Residents are opposing plans for a development in Keynsham that would include a new access from the Bath Road.
Places for People Strategic Land wants to remove the lay-by next to the Esso petrol station to create an entrance to the 3.7-acre site.
It is seeking permission for “flexible use commercial development”, although the company also believes the site may be suitable for new homes.
More than 140 comments objecting to the proposals have been received by Bath and North East Somerset, which will decide on the application.
Many residents say that the lay-by is the only one between Keynsham and Saltford and is used for additional family parking, school drop-offs, friends sharing lifts, delivery vans, dial-a-ride, as a taxi waiting place and as a rest stop for drivers.
They have expressed concern at the prospect of heavy lorries using a central area to turn right, across heavy traffic, to access the site.
They also point out that the site entrance is next to the petrol station exit, where vehicles wait to accelerate into small gaps in traffic, resulting in a number of accidents.
Objectors point out the site is next to footpaths and a cycle track used daily by cyclists and walkers, including many school children. They fear for the safety of pedestrians who would also have to cross the new junction.
One resident, who asked not to be named, contacted the Voice to share their concerns.
“If this proposal was given the green light, we would have to endure increased vehicle noise from lorries braking, changing gears to come to a halt, whilst waiting for a gap in the heavy traffic before slowly turning across oncoming traffic.
“This would inevitably result in traffic congestion and additional pollution as vehicles wait with idling engines.
“The A4 is a road with already high levels of pollution above Government acceptable levels.”
Others echoed the resident’s concern about pollution, stating that allowing the proposal would be contrary to the council’s ‘climate emergency’ policy.
The site, which is owned by Places for People Strategic Land, was once used to graze horses.
It is allocated for employment use in the Bath and North East Somerset Core Strategy and is not in the green belt.
The plot stretches back from the A4 to World’s End Lane (off Pixash Lane).
Objectors have stated that any access to the site should be via World’s End Lane, as allocated in the council’s master plan for the area.
But the agents acting for the applicants - property and planning consultancy Rapleys - argue that accessing the site from the A4 rather than World’s End Lane would be more appropriate.
Sarah Fordham, of Rapleys, said: “We are seeking permission for a new vehicular access onto the A4 Bath Road because World’s End Lane is suitable only for a very low number of traffic movements due to the width of the road surface, which restricts opportunities for vehicles to pass one another safely within the carriageway.
“An access from Bath Road operates more efficiently and safely in highway terms.”
The concerned resident who contacted the Voice said that the developers have also bought the Broadleaze Nurseries site, which is next to the plot behind the lay-by, and have told the previous owner they intend to build houses there.
“It is certainly causing upset, anxiety and uncertainty within the local community along the A4.”
The resident said that B&NES council does not seem to have any long-term plan for the A4 between Keynsham and Saltford, allowing a variety of ‘piecemeal’ large developments, such as the housing at Hygge Park and a residential nursing home at Pixash Lane.
Sarah Fordham confirmed that Places for People owned the freehold of the nursery site but said it had not yet submitted a planning application for the site.
Regarding the plot behind the lay-by, she said: “The application would allow a range of employment uses to be accommodated on the site, which would be limited to those that the council’s planning policies consider are suitable in close proximity to existing residential properties.
“We also believe that the site could be suitable for residential development and have made representations to the council as part of the emerging review of the Local Plan on this basis.
“We are not, however, seeking permission for new homes as part of our current planning application.”
Bath and North East Somerset Council has set a ‘target decision’ date of January 13 for the application.