A SECONDARY school has weighed into the planning battle for a new McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant, saying it fears for students’ safety crossing the busy A40 near the junction with the congested dual carriageway roundabout.

John Kyrle High School’s objection is one of more than 220 sent to Herefordshire Council planners about the proposed development of a 0.73-hectare grassland site off the new St Mary’s Garden Village estate in Ross-on-Wye.

The 24/7 drive-thru has its supporters though, with more than 100 pledging their backing for the 136-seater fast food restaurant, which is projected to see up to 2,440 vehicles per day.

In a letter to planners, business and finance director at the 1,460-roll 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.“There is a footpath along Ledbury Road which leads to the very busy roundabout, that joins the A449 and A40.

“This would be the most appropriate walking access route to McDonald’s, from the town and from both our secondary school and the nearby primary school.

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

“They would be required to cross over the heavily used A40 and this gives us cause for concern.

“We appreciate there is reference to pedestrian access and installation of railings, to encourage pedestrians to make their way to the already installed crossing, within the planning documents, but this safety measure we feel is not adequate.“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 have formed a campaign group to protest against the plans, submitting a 34-page summary of why it should be dismissed, while Ross-on-Wye Town Council says it goes against its neighbourhood development plan and would hit trade in the town centre.

neighbourhood campaign founder Julia Batty has 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?

“Residents won’t allow their children to play outside for fear of being hit by 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.”

McDonald’s say the scheme – close to the Burger King on the A449, and a KFC, Starbucks, Subway and Greggs – will create 65 jobs

And a spokesperson said the company were in the forefront of encouraging healthy eating, saying: “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.”

If approved, the site will include spaces for 48 cars, including five disability spaces, 20 bikes and four motorbikes.

And many support the plan, with Jo Knox stating: “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.”

Sofi Sullivan added: “I am all for creating more jobs!”

And Craig Bishop said: “I fully support the application which will bring much needed employment to the town and will attract more passing trade which can only in turn benefit the town as a whole.”