Public Statement on the Somerdale Development at Keynsham

Tuesday 23rd September 2014

Somerdale developmentSomerdale development

Avon Wildlife Trust was named in Taylor Wimpey's planning application for the Somerdale development, on the former Cadbury Factory site at Keynsham, with the intention of creating a new nature reserve alongside the development of approximately 700 new homes on the site.

The Trust has engaged with Taylor Wimpey for a year on the issue with the intention of delivering significant biodiversity gains along 2km of river bank as well as many benefits for current residents and the new Somerdale community.

In August 2014 the Trust felt it necessary to withdraw from discussions with Taylor Wimpey because the expressed intention to create a nature reserve and associated community services did not have any significant financial support from Taylor Wimpey and could not be delivered in a way which the Trust would view as credible and meaningful for wildlife.

The Trust had hoped to replicate the success at Portbury Wharf near Portishead where substantial biodiversity gains are being realised after an area of land was set aside as a nature reserve alongside the development of 2,600 new homes. The Portbury Wharf development was the first of its kind in the UK and the Trust remain very committed to working with Taylor Wimpey and other developers to find positive solutions for wildlife and people as our region tries to accommodate the commissioning of approximately 70,000 new homes by 2026.

Having been approached to be named in the planning application, the Trust are extremely disappointed at the lost opportunity of the Somerdale development and would encourage Bath and North East Somerset Council and local communities to ensure that ecological enhancements promised for the site are delivered.

The Trust also believe there are important lessons for planning authorities to legislate to ensure no net loss of biodiversity and not to rely on voluntary agreements.