Agents acting on behalf of Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook shopping centre have lodged an appeal against South Gloucestershire Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for two new drive-through food and drink units (foreseen to be occupied by McDonald’s and Starbucks) and two new retail units at the town centre site.
The controversial planning application, submitted in March 2018, was first denied permission by the local authority’s Development Management Committee in February 2019 and then again in March 2019 by the higher-level Spatial Planning Committee.
Officers at South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) had originally recommended that the application be approved, but it was ‘called in’ for a decision to be made by council members.
With one of the proposed food drink units being located only 22m from the nearest residential property in Wheatfield Drive at its closet point, councillors decided there would be “prejudicial impact on residential amenity due to noise, general disturbance, fumes, smells, and late night activity”. They also said the proposals “failed to promote the economic, social and environmental character of the area”.
News of the appeal surfaced in early July when a Planning Inspectorate appeal application form dated 28th June 2019 appeared on the council’s planning portal.
The appellant originally requested that the appeal be determined by way of a hearing, and the case officer at the Planning Inspectorate initially announced that this would indeed be the procedure used. However, in a letter dated 7th August, she explained that, after further consideration, the alternative procedure of ‘written representations’ would now be used as a hearing could not be justified, stating: “… although there are a lot of interested parties, the issues are not particularly complicated and the council have indicated that they will not be submitting anything very technical, therefore a hearing is not justified and this appeal will now proceed by way of written representation…”
A deadline of 21st August was set for interested people and organisations to submit written representations for consideration by the inspector.
In its ‘statement of case’ the appellant rejects the grounds of refusal and argues that the proposed food and drink units would “have an acceptable relationship with nearby housing so as to avoid any negative impacts based on noise or odour”.
The statement adds that a condition restricting the opening hours of the food units to 6am-11pm for Starbucks and 6am-midnight (Sun-Thu) / 6am-1am (Fri & Sat) for McDonald’s would be acceptable if the inspector considered this would “serve a purpose in limiting disturbance”.
Now that the submissions deadline has passed, the appellant and the local planning authority (SGC) have until 4th September to comment on the representations received.
An inspector will then visit the Willow Brook site. The main parties may be invited to accompany the inspector, but no discussion about the merits of the appeal will be allowed during the site visit.
No date has been set for making a decision on the appeal. Information published on the website GOV.UK states that the current average time taken to decide an appeal determined by the written representations procedure is 27 weeks (from initial validation).
• The appellant’s ‘statement of case’ may be viewed on the SGC planning portal under application reference PT18/1491/O (on the ‘Documents’ tab).
To read the full history of the case, visit the Planning Applications of Note page on this website.
In a further development, objectors to the scheme have been angered by the submission, within days of the appeal on the main case being announced, of two new planning applications that relate to advertising signage on and around the proposed McDonald’s restaurant.
Objection comments submitted by members of the public claim the latest applications are “confusing” and “putting the cart before the horse”, with one asking if the council “knows something we don’t”. Bradley Stoke Town Council has also weighed in, saying the applications “don’t make sense” as there is currently no building to attach the signage to. The town council has asked local South Gloucestershire ward councillors to ‘call in’ the applications, in view of “the impact of illuminated signage on local residential properties”.
Image: Plan showing proposed illuminated advertising signage on the north-east elevation of the proposed McDonald’s unit.
This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 4 & 5). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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