B&NES Council is consulting on its local plan, which will affect Keynsham for years to come. It’s our moment as residents to help shape the future of our town. Are the B&NES proposals the very best they can be for Keynsham, or do we want something different?
I’ve been struck recently by how polarised our society is becoming. Brexit is the obvious example, but even local issues expose fault lines. Many people are upset about the one-way system on Keynsham High Street, whilst others rejoice that they can cross the road and breathe clean air.
Another issue is whether to build on the Green Belt between Keynsham and Saltford. Many of us, me included, think it would increase traffic congestion on the A4 and through Keynsham. Pollution levels – already above the limit on the A4 – would go up even more. Wildlife habitats would be lost. And the independent character of Saltford Village and Keynsham Town would be further eroded, bringing them inexorably into the hinterland of Bristol’s suburbs.
And yet we desperately need more affordable houses. Bristol and Bath are almost as expensive to buy or rent a home as London. How will nurses, teachers, care workers and the thousands of other people who live on low wages afford somewhere to live?
I believe that when we are asked to make a decision about things that divide us, we should ask, ‘what should we do all things considered? ´ It’s a way of putting ourselves into others’ shoes – not just people, but other voiceless players– the environment, for example. So, if we need more houses and to provide a home for wildlife, can we build on brownfield sites before opening up the Green Belt to developers?
Ultimately, I think everyone wants to live in a town that looks after all its residents, from insects to humans and all life in-between. I just hope that what unites us is stronger than what divides us.
You can read the Local Plan in the Library, or by putting ‘Local Plan 2016 to 2036’ into the search engine on B&NES website. The consultation is open until 7th January.
Published in Keynsham Voice, January 2019, www.keynshamvoice.co.uk