A major scheme to improve Keynsham High Street and revitalize the town centre is under way with construction works having begun in earnest.
The project being carried out by Bath & North East Somerset Council began on June 1, starting with lifting of the existing paving and kerbs in front of the Methodist Church and laying of new high-quality materials. The contra-flow cycle lane has also been closed to create a temporary pedestrian walkway, to preserve safety and facilitate the works as they continue in sections along the west side of the high street toward Temple Street.
The High Street scheme is funded by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth and Getting Building Funds, administered by the West of England Combined Authority. It is also funded by the Combined Authority through its Love our High Streets programme.
West of England Metro Mayor, Dan Norris, visited the site with council Leader, Councillor Kevin Guy, to view progress with the Chair of Keynsham Town Council, Councillor Andy Wait.
The public realm scheme has also presented an opportunity for the council to coordinate the works with Openreach to upgrade their existing broadband infrastructure to full fibre ahead of the new paving being laid. This will provide many Keynsham businesses and residents with faster, more reliable access to the internet.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “High streets are the lifeblood of our communities so I am so pleased to back this scheme. I know it’s a bit noisy at the moment, but long-term this is really going to improve the shopping experience for local people and make the high street even better. We are getting wider pavements, better lighting, seven new benches and more trees – including ornamental pear trees. Together with dedicated cycle lanes and more disabled parking, it will be easier and more pleasant to pop to the shops and help our local businesses to thrive.”
The council was awarded £1.5 million, through the West of England Combined Authority, towards the cost of implementing the first phase of public realm improvements in June 2019 to help create a better retail environment, encourage an increase in footfall and support the local economy.
Councillor Kevin Guy, council Leader, said: “Residents and businesses in Keynsham helped us shape the final plans for this major project that has been a long time in the making, so it’s exciting that we are now at the stage where work is underway. Our high streets have faced major challenges over the past few decades and these improvements respond to local needs in Keynsham.
“Keynsham is a distinct market town that enriches the character of Bath and North East Somerset as a whole. Enhancing its public realm will improve the environment for the community and support businesses by increasing footfall. Thank you for your patience while the works are carried out.”
Councillor Andy Wait, Chair of Keynsham Town Council, said: “During lockdown, the High Street was available for people to exercise safely and use the few shops that were open with confidence. Now, as the High Street opens up again, we want to see more activities like markets and community events to attract more people in to support local businesses. With more people choosing to shop online, the High Street must reflect a more social and services role. I hope it will become an unpolluted, relaxing, friendly place of business and leisure both during the day and in the evening”.
The project will deliver footpath widening and resurfacing, better signage and cycling and bus stop facilities on the High Street between Bath Hill and Charlton Road. There will also be new street furniture, streetlights, landscaping and trees.
The rearrangement of the temporary one-way system on the High Street will enable opportunities for walking, cycling and other sustainable modes of transport.
The highway will only be restricted during the existing road closure which is in place for social distancing and will remain open unless a restriction is required by the construction programme.
The council is working closely with traders to minimise disruption and ensure access during trading hours. Customers and traders are still able to access their premises.