Change of plan at Somerdale

Things are changing ahead of the re-development of the Cadbury’s Factory site at Somerdale in Keynsham. In a planning application considered – and approved – by B&NES Development Control Committee this week (Wednesday, March 11th), the original developers Taylor Wimpey UK Limited have sold part of their undertaking – three factory blocks – to Freeman Retirement Living who want to use one of the blocks as a 135 unit care home and the others for residential flats and employment – and build 30 houses nearby.

Somerdale at Keynsham
Somerdale at Keynsham

In reports that the committee examined attention was drawn to whether the changes will reduce job opportunities but point out that employment levels in the proposed care home will actually increase the figures originally estimated.

There were also concerns about whether the new proposals would mean no room for a doctor’s surgery but planning officials say they are still determined to ensure that happens on some part of the site.

There is much detail to trawl through but it does seem the new developers would make an even more thorough job of adapting the factory blocks and provisions will be built in to any approval to ensure that sensitive archaeological sites are protected and investigated if important finds are disturbed during building work.

The report says:

‘In addition, notwithstanding the extensive land disturbance that occurred when the factory buildings were first constructed, there is a record of a Roman Well between buildings B and C and there may be areas of undisturbed land within those sites where appropriate archaeological investigations are considered appropriate. This will be secured by condition.’

There is a known and listed Roman well between two of the factory blocks.The new proposals are recommended for approval – but one of the conditions states:

‘No development shall take place (including the demolition and site clearance phase) until the applicant, or their agents or successors in title, has secured the implementation of a programme of archaeological work in accordance with a written scheme of investigation which has been first submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

The programme of archaeological work should provide a controlled watching brief during ground works on the site, with provision for excavation of any significant deposits or features encountered, and shall be carried out by a competent person(s) and completed in accordance with the approved written scheme of investigation.
Reason: The site is within an area of significant archaeological interest and the Council will wish to examine and record items of interest discovered.’

There is no building planned for The Hams area on the river floodplain under which lie the significant remains of the Roman town of Trajectus which were recently listed.