Maccies ‘off menu’ for now as plans shelved

Wednesday 11th May 2022 2:00 pm
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MCDONALD’S could be off the menu after a controversial application for a drive-thru restaurant off a busy dual carriageway and traffic pinch point was withdrawn.

Councillors, local householders and John Kyrle School lined up to object to the proposal for a planned fast food outlet near Ross-on-Wye’s Overross roundabout, where the A40 meets the A449, although many residents backed it.

The application was withdrawn yesterday morning (May 10) but a McDonald’s spokesperson said the planning bid, which attracted 221 objections and 97 submissions of support, would be resubmitted ‘in due course’.

National Highways, which manages both trunk roads, recommended in March that permission not be granted “for a period of three months pending submission of further information”, citing concerns over pedestrian and cycle access, and “geotechnical impacts” from the planned sewer.

It said it had first made these concerns known in December, but “since no new information has been submitted, our concerns remain current”.

A post on the council’s planning portal confirmed this week: “Following discussions (emails) with the agent by the case officer, due to concerns with the existing proposal and the receipt of an email from the agent on May 6, 2022, the application has been withdrawn.”

A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “We have withdrawn our initial application to make some changes to our plans, including a revised layout with a much enhanced landscaping scheme.

“We will submit our new application in due course.”

Ross-on-Wye Town Council also objected to the development on the 0.73-hectare grassland site off the new St Mary’s Garden Village estate, citing concerns over design, signage, walking and cycling, and impact on views and employment in the town centre.

John Kyrle also voiced fears for students’ safety crossing the busy A40 near the junction with the congested dual carriageway roundabout.

The 24/7 drive-thru scheme proposed a 136-seater fast food restaurant, catering for up to 2,440 vehicles per day.

McDonald’s said the development – close to the Burger King on the A449, and a KFC, Starbucks, Subway and Greggs – would have created 65 jobs

A spokesperson said after the plan was submitted last summer that the company were in the forefront of encouraging healthy eating, claiming: “There are few restaurants in the country who can claim to have made so many positive changes to support healthier lifestyles.

“McDonald’s believe that the lessons they have learned in making these changes can be used to support a wider drive to reduce obesity.

“McDonald’s customers are increasingly health conscious and careful about what they eat.”

But in a letter to planners, business and finance director at the 1,460-roll John Kyrle School, Christine Bryan, says: “John Kyrle High School would like to register its concerns regarding the proposal of the fast food outlet on the site that is adjacent to the A449 and A40.

“The McDonald’s in question is very close in walking distance to our secondary school and we feel strongly about the safety of our students, as naturally this type of food outlet appeals to many...

“Any walker requiring access to the outlet, would walk directly towards an extremely busy and often congested roundabout.

“Also, as already noted, the nearby roundabout already suffers congestion and with additional traffic attracted to the fast food outlet, this will no doubt exacerbate the situation and would also have an impact on access to the town and ultimately the nearby schools.”

Residents in St Mary’s Garden Village formed a campaign group to protest against the plans, submitting a 34-page summary of why it should be dismissed.

Neighbourhood campaign founder Julia Batty said: “Children won’t be safe. You already take your life in your heads when you cross that roundabout, can you imagine what it’s going to be like with McDonald’s traffic?

“The environmental problems caused by a fast-food outlet here in terms of emissions, noise, unsociable behaviour, are well documented around other 24-hour McDonald’s as is the litter problems they cause.”

But plan supporter Jo Knox said: “The town desperately needs jobs for young people.

“I hope that this in turn will also encourage town planners to expand our much-needed services.”

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