Somerdale scheme gets go-ahead!

Looks like the green light has been given for the biggest residential and commercial development in Keynsham for a long

The old Somerdale factory site
The old Somerdale factory site


The scheme to build hundreds of new homes, workspaces, a school, care home and improved sports facilities on the old Cadbury factory site at Somerdale  was voted through unanimously this afternoon at a meeting of B&NES Development Control Committee held in the Guildhall.

Despite reservations about there only being one entrance the seven to ten-year scheme by Taylor Wimpey – which aims to bring much-needed housing and jobs to the ancient market town – got the go ahead.

There was news too of a possible first customer for the old factory buildings the developer aims to convert. Matthew Clark – the national drinks wholesaler with a head office in Bristol – is seriously considering the Somerdale site as its lease on Whitchurch Lane nears an end. There was also talk of another still mystery – business interest. Other parts of the now empty chocolate factory – including the chimney – are due to come down.

The old Fry’s Club gets a new building out of this – apparently paid for my the American Kraft company who bought out Cadbury’s and then closed the factory. There has been a trade-off over sports pitches for football with some people thinking too many of them would be on the floodplain of the River Avon. Pitches in the past have been submerged for up to ten weeks!

Officially though, Fry’s Club supported the application and wanted things to get moving. An archaeological survey of the Hams was described as ‘unnecessary ‘ and having ‘delayed’ the development.

Here the Virtual Museum begs to differ. The Roman town of Trajectus – discovered beneath the Hams – is probably the most important bit of unknown historical legacy to come to light. It is due to be recommended by English Heritage for listing later this year.

There is no money or will to excavate it. Which is a shame for Keynsham – a town in search of a post-Cadbury’s identity. A town already not very well-known for its amazing Mediaeval Abbey – of which little remains.

Though the Roman town will stop any drainage being put down to help keep the football pitches dry – that is a small price to pay for something l still hope one day soon will play its part in the town’s future as an important tourist attraction.

It’s an insult to the town and its history to make do with a couple of mosaics inserted into the floor of its new library.

However – not even the Town Council representative made any mention of it – so perhaps l sing this song alone.