Record-breaking number of new homes built in B&NES

Record-breaking number of new homes built in B&NES

 

A record number of new homes were built in Bath and North East Somerset during the past year.

A total of 809 new homes were built in the 2015/16 financial year, representing the highest number since Bath & North East Somerset Council was created in 1996, and significantly higher than the long-term average over the last 20 years of around 450 per year.

Taking action to deliver new homes and job is one of the Council’s six corporate priorities, and the record number of homes completed in the past year demonstrates that the Council is delivering upon its Core Strategy development plan, which has set targets for delivering 13,000 new homes, including 3,290 affordable units, between April 2011 and March 2029.

Of the 809 new homes built in the past year 70% were on previously developed land, and the Council has achieved its target of delivering 30-40% affordable housing provision in 92% of eligible planning applications that were approved in 2015/16.

Cllrs Tim Warren & Liz Richardson

Council Leader Councillor Tim Warren, and Councillor Liz Richardson, Cabinet Member for Homes & Planning, at the Somerdale housing development in Keynsham where new homes are being delivered.

Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “One of our top priorities as a Council and administration is to deliver more local homes to both buy and rent – and the record number of new homes completed in the past year demonstrates the progress we are making in delivering on this commitment. By building more new homes, particularly on brownfield sites, we can help more local people get onto the housing ladder and own a home of their own, whilst at the same ensuring we also have the right mix of social and rented accommodation to meet our area’s needs. To support this further, we have also earmarked more than £3.2 million in the Council’s budget to support the delivery of new affordable housing projects throughout the district in the coming years.”

Councillor Liz Richardson (Conservative, Chew Valley North), Cabinet Member for Homes & Planning, added: “Housing demand is extremely high within the district so I am delighted that the number of homes built in the past year is the highest since B&NES was created over twenty years ago. These figures show that we are working hard to ensure that sufficient land is made available to meet our housing needs, with nearly 70% of the homes completed in 2015/16 built on previously developed land.  We still have a long way to go, but we are determined to ensure that our housing provision enables people to live and prosper in Bath and North East Somerset.”

There are 441 new affordable homes that will become available to rent or buy between now and 2020 on 16 housing developments that are currently underway across the district, and this number will be added to as new housing developments come forward. For full details of this affordable housing delivery please visit: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/affordablehousing.

 

Roman healing centre at Keynsham?

Roman healing centre at Keynsham?

Could Bath have had a nearby Roman rival when it came to rest and recuperation. Keynsham may not have ‘magical’ thermal waters but it seems the Roman remains underneath Keynsham Cemetery could be “one of the most important buildings ever found in Britain”, according to archaeologist Bryn Walters.

The following is a report from the on-line newspaper ‘The Keynsham Voice’ –   www.keynshamvoice.co.uk -which l have been allowed to quote in full.

“Mr Walters, who is director of the Association of Roman Archaeology (ARA), is challenging the long-held belief that the Durley Hill building was a private villa and suggests it was instead a healing centre visited by hundreds of people.

Excavations at the cemetery by volunteers from Bath and Camerton Archaeological Association (Bacas) in July last year appear to support his theory and now, Mr Walters told members of Keynsham Town Council last month, he hopes to be able to get permission carry out more work at the site.

keynsham cemetery

The excavation. the ashlar block wall on the left and the presumed blocking with large stones on the right. © Antony Beeson

A Victorian wall, a number of conifers, building materials and timber at the base of the road embankment would need to be removed to get better access to the ruins that were partially explored in 2015’s dig, he said.

There were similarities between Keynsham’s remains and those of the Roman temples at Lydney and Nettleton in Wiltshire, he explained, with no sign of living quarters at Durley Hill and instead what could be a series of small baths or “slumber rooms”.

A set of very worn steps also suggested it was a place visited by hundreds of people, and not a private residence.

keynsham cemetery

The ashlar block wall built over upright foundation slabs on the left. Presumed rough blocking appears at the left. © Anthony Beeson

A healing sanctuary at the site could have been the stimulus for building Trajectus, the Roman town believed to lie underneath the Somerdale site, he said.

“There were three terraces down the hillside, it was designed to be seen at a long distance, glowing on the hillside when viewed from Trajectus. Look across at dawn and that building would be gleaming on the hill, which suggests it’s not private, but public.”

He added: “We need to gain more accurate and detailed archaeological information from within the cemetery to get new evidence and a better understanding of what this building was all about,” he said.
ARA has funding to carry out a geophysical survey of the field to the south of Durley Hill, opposite the cemetery, this year.

Permission for further work at the cemetery would need to be granted by Bath and North East Somerset Council and the diocese and Mr Walters hopes he can get the go-ahead to dig new trenches at the site next year.

He added that once work had been completed the remains could be covered and capped, creating a visible outline of the building in the grass, and new information panels could be installed. He said: “My aim is to give Keynsham some of its history back.”

Town councillors expressed support for further work and have asked Mr Walters to submit his proposals in writing.”

The images were taken last year by Roman expert Anthony Beeson who lives in Bristol.

Rail reconstruction gets underway through Bath in 2017.

Rail reconstruction gets underway through Bath in 2017.

A new word has entered our local vocabulary in the last couple of years. It’s ‘t-pod’ and it is a shortened and slightly trendy way of saying – ‘temporary period of disruption’ – used by Network Rail every time they announce a closure of the line to London.

We are in the throes of a multi-billion pound upgrade which is being carried out on Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s historic Great Western Railway and which will see  electrification, new rolling stock, more seats and shortened journeys.

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How an electric powered train might look passing through Bath’s historic Sydney Gardens.

Enough benefits – the Company hopes – to offset those painful periods when the trains aren’t running and you are bussed from station to station.

T-pods have so far been necessary for lowering the track through Box tunnel and doing something similar between Bath and Bristol. There will be another one next Easter when the platforms at Bath Spa Station are widened and the track moved to allow for overhead pylons to be installed without damage to listed canopies.

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Track lowering through Box Tunnel

Bath’s historic heritage and listed structures present Network Rail with additional problems but Bath Newseum has been talking to the man in charge of all this reconstruction – Andrew Haynes –  and has been told the Company is confident they can install a new power system that will be fit for purpose and which actually enhances Georgian gems like Sydney Gardens – through which the London to Bristol line passes.

network rail

Track lowering through Keynsham Station.

We’re going to be seeing actual construction work from the start of 2017 – with the system ready for commissioning from the middle of 2019- but with new rolling stock ordered that is equipped with diesel engines as well as pantographs – for picking up power electric power – you can expect new trains from the back end of next year!

Here’s a report on progress from Network Rail’s Project Director for the West of England, Andrew Haynes.

Network Rail’s next regular ‘drop-in session’ – open to everyone – will be at Bath Guildhall from 4.30 pm to 7pm on Tuesday, May 10th. You can go along and look at diagrams of projected work and ask questions!

 

Festival of Nature set to make waves with River Avon theme for 2016

Festival of Nature set to make waves with River Avon theme for 2016

The Bristol to Bath Festival of Nature is taking to the water this summer, offering wildlife-lovers of all ages the chance to go on a wild adventure along the River Avon.  This is the first time in its 14-year history that the festival has included the city’s waterscapes as part of the programme and it will allow participants to take a journey along the river, uncovering the delights of the Avon and the wildlife it is home to.715f2bae-8741-468c-a6de-0110c8dfed6d

The festival is also extending its programme this year to include events in Keynsham on Sunday 19 June before culminating in Bath in Royal Victoria Park for its finale on Saturday 25 June.

Arts, performances and workshops will spring up on river banks en-route as the Festival meanders along  the Avon over the course of the two weeks.

The festival gives people the opportunity to discover and enjoy the natural world through an imaginative programme of hands-on activities, workshops, performances, celebrity talks, local market stalls and much more. It also encourages people to take positive action to support and protect wildlife in their area.
Festival-of-Nature-2016-Twitter-Image

A Waterblitz is also being planned to help raise awareness of water quality issues across the Bristol Avon Catchment. Organisations, community groups, schools and members of the public will have the opportunity to collect water samples from freshwater bodies (streams, ponds, lakes) to create a snap shot of water quality levels at a catchment scale.

Volunteers can now register to help out at the festival by filling in the form at this link: http://www.bnhc.org.uk/festival-of-nature/volunteer-fon/

Bristol/Bath rail closure over Easter.

Bristol/Bath rail closure over Easter.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is urging commuters to plan ahead to during the forthcoming closure of the railway between Bath and Bristol.

Bath Spa rail station

Bath Spa rail station

The line between Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads will be closed between Saturday, 2 April, and Sunday, 10 April, while Network Rail carries out modernisation work, in preparation for the electrification of the historic Great Western Line.

As the work is taking place during the school Easter holiday, it’s anticipated that the volume of traffic in the city of Bath will remain the same as a normal busy day. However, roadworks in the centre of Bristol could have an impact on traffic flow, particularly between Keynsham and Bristol.  As a consequence those travelling between Bath and Bristol are being advised to plan ahead, use alternative means of public transport, avoid peak travel times if possible and allow extra time for their journey. 

During the nine day closure, GWR will run regular rail replacement bus services along the route:

Bath – Bristol non-stop, every 15 mins.

Bath – Lower Bristol Road (Oldfield Park) – Keynsham – Bristol, every 30 mins.

Keynsham – Bristol, every 30 mins.

There is also ticket acceptance on some First Bus Services.

In addition Bath & North East Somerset Council and Bristol City Council have put in place a series of measures to help traffic flow:

Advance message signs

Advanced messaging warning drivers of potential disruption will be displayed on Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Vehicle Management Systems from Monday 21st March. 

Traffic Management: 

Non-emergency roadworks will be embargoed along road in Bath and North East Somerset that are to be used for the rail replacement bus services, including the A4. This will also be the case on a number of surrounding roads that have been identified as alternate routes in the event of an emergency on the designated route.

Coach operators have been asked to route into Bath from the East where possible.

Hauliers have been asked to route M32/A37/A38 through traffic to the West of Bristol where possible.

Avon & Somerset Constabulary Road Policing Unit has been asked to enforce the box junctions at Hicks Gate, particularly during peak times.

Signal timings will be actively managed from Hicks Gate through to Bristol Temple Meads.

There will be strict parking and bus lane enforcement along the A4.

A CCTV link will be provided to Bath Spa station and to Bristol City Council’s traffic control room.

Public Transport:

Extra rail replacement buses will be on standby to provide additional capacity/resilience if required.

Additional buses will be provided at Bath’s Park & Ride sites as and when necessary.

Cllr Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said:  “We are working hard with Network Rail, GWR, and Bristol City Council to try to minimise disruption to travellers during the closure of the rail line. I would urge those who normally travel by train between Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads to use alternative means of public transport. In the long term the closure will benefit rail travellers, as journey times will be quicker once Network Rail’s electrification project has been completed”.

For more information visit www.GWR.com/BristolBath2016 or www.nationalrail.co.uk  

For your information: 

Electrification of the Great Western Railway will open the way for a new generation of electric intercity trains to be introduced on routes serving Bath from 2017, meaning more seats, more leg-room, and more tables for passengers.network rail

•It will also deliver a greener, quieter, more reliable railway with fewer carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere and a reduction in noise as electric trains replace existing diesel locomotives. This will be a real positive bonus for neighbour side properties.

•Additional seating capacity and newer trains will support the economic development of the area helping to attract more businesses into the city creating new jobs for the community.

 

Bath Sports & Leisure Centre transformation details

Bath Sports & Leisure Centre transformation details

People are invited to find out more about an £8 million overhaul of Bath Sports and Leisure Centre which will see it transformed into a modern and dynamic centre aimed at motivating more people to get more active more often.

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Bath & North East Somerset Council, working in partnership with charitable social enterprise GLL, which operates the Council’s leisure centres under the Better brand, is holding an open event at Bath Sports and Leisure Centre tomorrow – Wednesday 23 March (2pm-8pm) – where people can learn more about the refurbishment plans. The purpose of the engagement afternoon is to give users the opportunity to find out more about the proposals

Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “The aim of the refurbishment is to ensure we have great facilities that encourage a lot more people to get active, particularly those who don’t currently use the leisure centre. It will be a place for the local community to be proud of and, with something for everyone, it will be a fantastic environment for getting fitter and healthier whilst having fun.IMG_7422

“We are very keen to get more people involved in sport and physical activity – especially families, young people, older people and those who are overweight. To do that, our facilities need to be modern and welcoming and able to engage the greatest number of people. We particularly want to encourage people who don’t currently do any physical activity at all to take it up regularly, helping to reduce the health inequalities that exist within the district. Whilst other councils are having to close their leisure centres, our plans will give Bath Sports and Leisure Centre a sustainable future to ensure residents can continue to benefit from public leisure services for years to come.”IMG_7424

The extensive programme of repairs, upgrades and new additions is set to create a building and facilities that will be a pleasure to use and a real asset to the community long into the future.

The current proposals include:

A new teaching and leisure pool

Transformation of the beach area of the fun pool into an interactive water-play area for children of all ages and abilities

New and improved changing spaces

An enhanced fitness suite

New double-storey soft play attraction

New studio space and party rooms

A trampoline park – wall-to-wall trampolines that are all connected together and have sides made up of angled trampolines to create one huge park where you can literally bounce off the walls

8-lane ten-pin bowling

A remodelled reception space to create a more open-plan feel with better views of the pool

Creation of a new spa experience with treatment rooms and a relaxation area.

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To make sure that local people can reap all the benefits of physical activity – including making a positive difference to their physical and mental health and their overall wellbeing, Bath & North East Somerset Council, along with GLL, are investing £17 million in improving local leisure centres and creating new leisure facilities. The investment has already seen a revamp of Culverhay Sports Centre, which now has a new dance studio, functional training spaces and new equipment.

The next phase is the upcoming refurbishment of Bath Sports and Leisure Centre, and improved leisure centre facilities are planned for Keynsham, to include a sports hall, swimming pool, fitness suite and studio space. Public engagement for Keynsham is planned in the coming months.

The refurbishment of Bath Sports and Leisure Centre starts in May, with all the work carried out in phases so that it can remain open. If any facilities are temporarily out of action during the work, the Centre will do all it can to provide them at an alternative venue. 

The plans involve the removal of squash courts from Bath Sports and Leisure Centre. The level of provision of squash courts in other locations will still be in line with the national average and the Council and GLL are liaising with local squash clubs to discuss options such as subsidised memberships for the period of transition along with new opportunities for “pay and play” sessions. Suggestions include local clubs supporting the transition process by offering reduced price memberships, which has been favourably received.

  

Fit for life 

The investment in leisure centres in Bath, Keynsham and Culverhay will help support delivery of the Council’s ambitious Fit for Life strategy, which is designed to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in the area, now and into the future.

Its aim is to motivate more people to get more active more often – especially families, young people, older people and those who are overweight – and find ways to make physical activity more central to people’s lives.

The strategy also puts the spotlight on the contribution that sport and physical activity can make to Bath and North East Somerset’s economy, how they can help boost local communities by bringing people together and reducing social isolation, and the role they play in creating a sustainable environment.

To find out more about your local leisure centre go to www.better.org.uk or call:

 

Bath Sports and Leisure Centre 01225 486905

Keynsham Leisure Centre 01225 439680

Culverhay Sports Centre 01225 480882

Chew Valley Sports Centre 01275 333375

 

For more information about Midsomer Norton and Writhlington Leisure Centres call:

 

Writhlington Sports Centre 01761 438559

Midsomer Norton Sports Centre 01761 252631

 

 

Water power!

Water power!

B&NES must really learn to coordinate things amongst departments within the authority. The following press release was ’embargoed’ until l am today (Thursday, March 17th) and l have stuck to that request by not releasing it until now.

However followers of the Virtual Museum of Bath website know that l published a story yesterday  (it sits alongside this one)  about an on-line newsletter relating to a new ‘body’ that would launch a study into how our waterways could be better used.

That newsletter was sent out into the public realm on March 14th. It was NOT embargoed.

Anyway here’s the release that was – and it comes with a photograph of those who will be involved.

‘A study looking at new ways to use the river and canal system around Bath has been launched  to identify projects to transform and revitalise the waterways.

Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency, and Wessex Water will work together in the jointly funded Water Space Study, with the support of ongoing research from the River Regeneration Trust.

Historically rivers and canals were heavily used for industry, business and trade, but they are now used increasingly for leisure and wellbeing, sports and recreation, so the study will gather new evidence about how the waterways are now being used.

Engaging with local communities, it will look at the diverse range of opportunities along the River Avon between Bath and Keynsham, and along the Kennet and Avon Canal between Deep Lock and Limpley Stoke Viaduct.

The Water Space Study will also be informed by the continuing work of the Council and the Environment Agency to investigate options for managing flood risk.

Cllr Martin Veal

Cllr Martin Veal

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services and Chair of the Strategic River Group, said: “All of the project partners are keen to engage with everyone who has an interest in the river and canal within our communities, including businesses, the construction industry, landowners, sports clubs, boaters and local groups.

“We want to make sure that local people play a key part in finding more ways for everyone to safely enjoy our fantastic waterways in a way that benefits the environment and the local economy.

“This study initiates what we hope will be an exciting enhancement and transformation of how Bath uses its water spaces.”

The study will look at all aspects impacting on the river and canal, including boat moorings, river navigation by boats, leisure and recreation opportunities and wider wildlife and habitat enhancements.

Water Space Study Launch

From left to right: Patrick Moss, Atkins (who is from Moss Naylor Young Ltd, a sub-consultant to Atkins) Zoe Hancock, BANES,John Wilkinson, BANES, Jim Collings, BANES, David Crowson, Environment Agency, Cllr Martin Veal, BANES, Dave Laming, River Regeneration Trust, Nick Rowson, Atkins, Cleo Newcombe-Jones, BANES, Mark Minkley, BANES, Jeremy Taylor, Environment Agency, Ruth Barden, Wessex Water, Tim Hewitt, BANES.

The project partners will be working with local consultancy firm Atkins, which has been involved in many environmental-based river restoration work and marina developments, including the rejuvenation of the London 2012 Olympic Park canal network.

Mark Evans, Waterways Manager for the Kennet & Avon Canal at the Canal & River Trust, said: “This study will really help us to understand what people want and need from Bath’s waterways, from the needs of boating communities to the tourist trade.

“The canal and river are already key features of the city, but there is potentially much more we can do to make the most of them.

“This is the first step in working out what those things could be, and it’s great to have partners on board who are as invested in Bath’s future as we are.”

Cllr Dave Laming

Dave Laming, Chairman of the River Regeneration Trust.

Dave Laming, Chairman of the River Regeneration Trust, said: “We have been campaigning for five years now for work like this to be done to really make the most of our waterways, so I am delighted to see this study launch this week.

“The river and canal provide an excellent facility for the area, but so much more is possible. This study is a really exciting first step in making real improvements.”Map of Water Space Study Area

Jeremy Taylor, catchment co-ordinator at the Environment Agency, said: “This is a real team effort. As well as making full use of the water spaces in Bath, the Water Space Study will assist in the development of a sustainable approach to flood risk management within Bath.

“We are all pooling our knowledge and resources to identify both large and small projects that will benefit the community, local economy and the environment.”

The project is due to conclude its recommendations in March 2017. Opportunities for public engagement are being planned for summer 2016.

For information on the river and canal and the Water Space Study, visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/riverandcanal or email RiverAvon@bathnes.gov.uk.