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Keynsham and Saltford: Area overview

Place profile

6.17    Keynsham and Saltford are settlements which occupy strategic locations on the A4 between Bath and Bristol. Both settlements are linked to the two cities by the A4, and Keynsham is also linked by railway. Sustrans National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 4 links east Bristol with Bath, passing closely to the north of Keynsham and east of Saltford.

6.18    Keynsham is a thriving market town, with a population of around 20,000 people.  It plays an important role in supporting sustainable economic growth across B&NES, with its absolute employment numbers having increased over the period 2011 – 2021. Its town centre is characterised by variety of local independent retailers, many of which have evolved and set up on the High Street in more recent years, as well as a strong food and beverage offer. 

6.19    Keynsham’s settlement origins are demonstrated by the location of its historic core and Conservation Area fronting onto and within the River Chew Valley. Heritage assets are clustered throughout the Conservation Area in the town centre. During the latter part of the 20th century, Keynsham expanded rapidly to cater for development associated with the growth of Bristol. Expansion eastwards along Wellsway saw settlement growth on either side of the Chew Valley, presenting limitations in settlement connectivity between the east and west sides of the town. 

6.20    The River Chew provides an important landscape, wildlife and recreational corridor running through the heart of the town, providing potential to connect residents with the wider countryside, particularly through the valley, down to Chew Valley Lake, and beyond. Keynsham sits within the Chew Valley Reconnected Green Infrastructure Project Area, which is made up of important networks of natural and semi-natural habitats, providing crucial habitats and wildlife corridors for priority species. 

6.21    In Keynsham there is an imbalance of transport modes in the town centre, with greater priority given to vehicles over active modes, as is typical of similar size towns. There are a series of walking and cycle routes within Keynsham, however, there are missing links within Keynsham and between Whitchurch Village to the west and Saltford to the east. Keynsham has its own rail station and there is a good frequency of bus services operating from Keynsham town centre offering services to destinations including the centres of Bath and Bristol. Services to other destinations not on the main bus routes to Bristol and Bath can be less frequent. 

6.22    The principal roads that serve Keynsham and Saltford are the A4, A4175, B3116 and Charlton Road. The private car mode share for journeys to work are higher than the national and South West average. During the traditional weekday highway peak hours , there is congestion typically along the A4 and within Keynsham town centre on roads such as Bath Hill, Station Road and Mill Lane.

6.23    Saltford is a large village located to the east of Keynsham, with a population of around 4,000 people. Its historic core and Conservation Area front the River Avon to the north of the village, with numerous heritage assets located within this area. Over time, the village has grown to the south and west, with development predominantly residential in use, but with a small quantity of retail and commercial businesses located along the A4. Other village facilities such as the village hall and recreation ground are located to the north of the village, and Saltford Primary School is located off Claverton Road towards the south of the village. 

6.24    Keynsham and Saltford are surrounded by the Bristol and Bath Green Belt, which separates the two settlements.

6.25    The Cotswold National Landscape is located directly to the east of Saltford, with impressive sweeping views across the two settlements visible from across the designated area. 

6.26    A local designation in the adopted Local Plan relating to the Landscape Setting of Settlements wraps around much of Keynsham and to the north, east, and south of Saltford. The designation as shown on the Policies Map and associated policy requires that development should only take place if it conserves and enhances this landscape setting. We are seeking comments on the extent of the existing designation. There is an opportunity in the Development Management chapter of this Options Document (Policy N/LCS) to view existing landscape settings of settlements, and comment as to whether their boundaries should be amended. 

Key issues and opportunities

Housing and employment need

  • Evidence from the Employment Needs Assessment and Office and Industrial Market Review suggests net employment land requirements over the Plan period in the Keynsham area comprise around:
    • 11,000 sqm office space (1 ha land requirement)
    • 7,000 – 9,000 sqm industrial floorspace (2 ha land requirement)
    • 19,000 sqm warehousing / logistics floorspace (4 ha land requirement)
  • Some of this employment land requirement can be provided through existing commitments (that is, sites with planning permission or allocated in the adopted Local Plan for employment development). These existing commitments will need to be reviewed in preparing the Draft Local Plan.

Landscape and setting

  • Land surrounding Keynsham and Saltford is designated as Green Belt. Any new development adjoining the settlements would require the removal of land from the Green Belt, and removal would require 'exceptional circumstances' to be fully evidenced and justified.
  • Flood risk from the River Avon to the north of Keynsham and to the east of Saltford restricts potential development in these areas. 
  • Both settlements are located in areas of landscape sensitivity. The Cotswolds National Landscape is located directly east of Saltford, with views across both of the settlements, and a local designation relating to the Landscape Setting of Settlements wraps around much of Keynsham and to the north, east, and south of Saltford. 
  • Keynsham is bisected by the River Chew, which provides an important landscape, wildlife and recreational corridor through the town, but also creates movement severance for people due to limited crossings over the river. Weirs along the river currently provide barriers to fish passage for migratory fish.

Travel and transport

  • The Bath to Bristol Strategic A4 corridor experiences significant congestion in both directions during peak times, including through the centre of Saltford. Congestion on the A4 also causes delays in Keynsham town centre. 
  • Insufficient public transport provision and easy and cheap parking within Keynsham results in an over-dependence on travelling by car within Keynsham and Saltford. Currently no public transport options exist between the two settlements, though WECA has recently consulted on works to the A4, which includes bus stops and mobility hubs along the A4 providing links between the two settlements. 
  • Keynsham’s car parks are reasonably well utilised with a peak occupancy of 75%. However, this is over a relatively short time period with a 7-day mean occupancy of 55%, indicating a surplus of car parking in the town. 
  • Public space is more balanced towards vehicles over people, causing issues with congestion and severance.
  • Keynsham and Saltford both have Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) where air pollution levels exceed the governments’ objective limit.
  • Poor connectivity to the Bristol to Bath cycle route from both Keynsham and Saltford, and cycle routes within the settlements are also poorly connected
  • Poor access to Keynsham Railway Station on foot, bicycle, and bus, particularly from the A4 corridor. 

Health, wellbeing and leisure

  • Keynsham and Saltford contain numerous important heritage assets which require protection. 
  • Keynsham lacks a cultural space/venue such as a hall with theatre for use by community. 
  • Keynsham and Saltford have health and wellbeing needs that the built and natural environment can play a role in addressing, including food insecurity, cardiovascular, respiratory and healthy weight needs.

Priorities and objectives

6.27    The following list sets out the key priorities and objectives for Keynsham and Saltford. Many of the priorities can be addressed by new development, and site options have been selected in response to the key issues, priorities and objectives. However, there are some priorities that won’t be addressed through new development, but will be addressed through other policies in the Local Plan or initiatives undertaken by the council or by other stakeholders.

  • Create opportunities to enable Keynsham to attract new employers, including in established and emerging sectors, and generate a range of jobs that will mean local residents have access to and can thrive in good work, by providing land to meet employment requirements of the area.
  • Provide homes to meet the needs of the district, including provision of homes that are affordable, and a mix of homes to meet the need of a variety of demographics, including homes for older people. 
  • Retain significant green gap between Keynsham and Saltford, and seek to improve the quality of the gap, making it more accessible and usable to all. 
  • Create opportunities to become carbon neutral and nature positive by 2030, and work towards a climate resilient district.
  • Ensure provision of community and social infrastructure and sustainable transport initiatives that serve existing residents as well as new, and across the lifecourse.
  • Improve accessibility and connectivity by sustainable modes within Keynsham and Saltford, and also between the two settlements. 
  • Explore options to alleviate congestion within Keynsham Town Centre, and along the A4 corridor at peak times. 
  • Protect the key aspects of the landscape setting of the two settlements, and views to and from the Cotswold National Landscape. 
  • Provision of good quality green (land-based) and blue (water-based) infrastructure that is accessible and usable to all, placing nature at the heart of any development opportunities. 
  • Maximise ecological mitigation and biodiversity net gain
  • Restore the natural connectivity and functioning of the river and flood plain for key species. 
  • Enhance access to the river for leisure, and explore potential to provide more space for boat dwellings.
  • Explore the green infrastructure opportunities provided by the River Chew Valley through Keynsham, the River Avon corridor, and Stockwood Vale, for nature recovery, human health and well-being, and climate adaptation and mitigation. 
  • Seek opportunities to encourage community food growing and edible landscapes, and provide space for allotments.
  • Ensure policy supports the delivery of built and natural environments that promote health and well-being for all.  

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The Local Plan Options Consultation has closed