McDonald’s drive-thru approved again despite High Court challenge

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A McDonald’s drive-thru has been approved for Bedford, for the second time. Bedford Borough Council’s planning committee granted permission for the McDonald’s drive-thru at Fairhill, Bedford in October last year.

Janine Laver, the council’s development manager this week told the committee: “That permission was challenged in the high court by two third-party objectors.

“The council agreed to the decision being quashed on the basis that the council had failed to undertake a sequential assessment of other suitable sites in the town centre, or edge of [the town] centre, before concluding that the proposed use on this out of [town] centre site at Fairhill was acceptable.

“A sequential assessment has now been submitted by the applicant which has been reviewed by [planning] officers, by policy planners and by highways.

“We have concluded there are no other suitable available and viable sites in the town centre or edge of [the town] centre to accommodate the proposal,” she said.

Ms Laver said there were objections raised on several highways matters, including queueing traffic, but that highways officers are “satisfied” that the proposal has been suitably arranged to minimise adverse effects.

“Objections have been raised about health impacts of fast food facilities in light of the proximity of the proposal to Bedford Modern School, for example, ” Ms Laver said.

“And in light of other community food offerings nearby including the two approved drive-thrus immediately to the east of this site in Fairhill.

“While the pedestrian and cycle access to the site has been improved through the Clapham Roundabout/A6 improvement works and the Manton Lane roundabout works that were completed in the spring of 2022 the site is not on a ‘walking desire’ line to or from any school.

“It is therefore difficult to conclude that the proposal would be harmful to the health prospects of students at nearby schools,” she said.

The drive-thru traffic will be using the same road junction onto the roundabout as Aldi and Brewpoint.

Cllr Jane Walker (Conservative, Clapham) said:” That roundabout is much improved, but it is still very difficult to get out onto that roundabout just from Aldi and Brewpoint.

“There’s a lot of traffic struggling to get out there, we could change the traffic light combination or something so that at least they’ve got a delay so people can get out.

“I think with this one, obviously we’ll make it a lot worse,” she said.

Where the new McDonald’s at Fairhill will be. Image: CNES, Airbus, Getmapping PLC, Infoterra LTD & Bluesky, Maxar Technologies, The Geoformation Group, Google Maps 2022

Committee chair, Cllr Jonathan Abbott (LibDems, Oakley) said: “Since the Greenacre School was granted permission by the planning inspectorate against the decision of the committee, I think we would struggle on highways grounds to refuse it.

“As we are believed to have capacity on that roundabout.

“Although I think anyone who uses it during the peak hours will know that might be different, hopefully, the main use of this site will be away from those peak times,” he said.

A majority of the committee voted to grant permission, subject to planning conditions.

by John Guinn,
Local Democracy Service

 
 
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