Bradley Stoke McDonald’s could be open by August

Photo of a typical McDonald's restaurant with drive-through.
A typical two-storey McDonald’s restaurant with drive-through.

Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook shopping centre has confirmed that work is about to start on the construction of two controversial fast food & drink restaurants, both with drive-through facilities, that were granted planning permission on appeal in January 2020.

Permission was granted by a government-appointed planning inspector after the application was twice thrown out by committees of councillors at South Gloucestershire Council, in a saga that spanned nearly two years.

An indication that work on the project might soon be about to begin came at the start of January with the sudden disappearance of the Waves hand car wash facility from the north-eastern corner of the shopping centre’s car park, which is where the two new fast food outlets are to be constructed.

A spokesperson for the centre confirmed to the Journal:

“Waves have vacated the space at Willow Brook as part of our preparations to begin building works for Starbucks and McDonald’s, which are scheduled to begin early in February and last for around 6 months.”

“We are working on plans that we hope will provide space for Waves to return later in the year.”

Photo of a single-storey Starbucks restaurant with drive-through lane.
Example of a single-storey Starbucks restaurant with drive-through lane.

The McDonald’s unit will have a floor area of 542 sqm, split over two floors, while the Starbucks unit is single-storey with a floor area of 167 sqm.

The planning permission does not include any conditions that restrict opening hours, so the two units could potentially trade 24 hours a day. However, it is noted that at one point during negotiations, the applicant’s agent stated that they would be prepared to accept a restriction of 6am-11pm for Starbucks and 6am-midnight (Sun-Thu) / 6am-1am (Fri & Sat) for McDonald’s, perhaps giving an indication of the likely trading hours once they are up and running.

Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Care, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

According to documents submitted as part of the planning application, the Starbucks unit is expected to employ the equivalent of 20 full-time staff, while the McDonalds restaurant is expected to employ more than 65 full and part-time staff.

In addition to the two fast food outlets, the approved development includes outline permission to add two (non-food) units to the end of the existing retail terrace, i.e. beyond the Poundstretcher store. To accommodate this expansion, the public access road into and out of the centre will be moved closer to the northern boundary of the site. This second phase will be carried out at a later date, dependent on demand from prospective occupiers, and will require submission of a further ‘reserved matters’ planning application.

Masterplan (annotated).
Willow Brook Centre expansion masterplan (annotated extract). Orange outline: Phase one. Blue outline: Phase two.

Note: The above plan shows the proposed layout of the car park and access road at the end of phase 2. For phase 1, the access road will remain as it is at present, except for the first right-hand turn being widened to allow easy access for delivery vehicles serving the two new food and drink units.

Implementation of phase 1 (McDonald’s and Starbucks) will result in a net loss of around 80 car parking spaces at the shopping centre. No further spaces will be lost if phase 2 is implemented, thanks to a “reconfiguration” of the car park.

Willow Brook Centre manager Andy Wynn commented:

“It has been a long road to get to this point, with further delays caused by Covid-19. However, we are all excited to see work finally get underway and look forward to seeing customers enjoying both new units in August.”

Timeline of planning application

Timeline table.

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