Works to enhance Keynsham High Street are set to start on May 24 to help create a better retail environment, encourage an increase in footfall and support the local economy.
The permanent improvements include footpath widening and resurfacing, better signage and cycling and bus stop facilities. There will also be new street furniture, streetlights, landscaping and trees.
The enhancements between Charlton Road and Bath Hill seek to rejuvenate the town centre and attract locals and visitors back to the High Street.
The 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.
The works were due to start last year before the project was paused temporarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some temporary access restriction measures were also put in place between Charlton Road and Bath Hill to enable social distancing.
Last year Bath & North East Somerset Council invited views from the public and stakeholders on the detailed designs and specification of the scheme, both online and at a public exhibition.
More than 100 responses were received and respondents were asked to rank the design elements they considered would be the most successful. The top three most popular elements were the reconfigured bus stop, paving materials and the pedestrian crossings.
In response to the consultation feedback, further changes were also made to the final design including:
Councillor Richard Samuel, the council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources & Economic Development, said: “Thank you to businesses and residents in Keynsham for adapting to and supporting the temporary access restrictions measures on such short notice. As we recover from the global pandemic, we know how important it is to support our local town centres which played a vital role in supporting our local communities during this time. Making the high street an attractive and more spacious place to be will give people the confidence to return when they feel the time is right for them.
“These works are the first step in revitalising Keynsham town centre. They will also improve sustainable transport by encouraging more pedestrians, cyclists and bus users to continue to make short local trips by walking or wheeling. The town centre is set to benefit from significant investment over the next few years which will go a long way to keeping its position as a successful independent centre and the focus of Keynsham’s public life.”
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.
The public realm enhancements come on top of a range of future investment for the town including £1.1million received as part of the Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) Programme. This programme has been match funded by Keynsham Town Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council which will follow on from this scheme, supporting further public realm improvements and sympathetic improvements to historic shop fronts alongside arts and community engagement.
The public realm improvements will be constructed in short sections starting on the west side of the High Street outside the Methodist Church, continuing towards Bath Hill, then on the east side travelling from Charlton Road to Bath Hill. The work is expected to take nine months.
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. At the times the High Street will need to be closed to all traffic there will be a diversion around Ashton Way. These periods of closure will be announced and signed in advance so that people can plan their journeys.
Temporary disabled bays will be available outside the HSBC Bank. The contraflow cycle lane will be closed when works to upgrade it are carried out or when necessary for safety reasons. The council and its contractor will be working closely with traders to minimise disruption and ensure access during trading hours. The temporary traffic restriction order and construction works will not prevent customers or traders from accessing their premises.
To minimise the impact of the construction, the site welfare and storage will be situated in the closed Station Road overflow carpark.
For more information on the plans and for construction updates please visit: www.bathnes.gov.uk/keynsham.