McDonald’s late night trading licence application set for decision on Tuesday

Photo of a building under construction overlaid with a text relating to licensing policy.
McDonald’s restaurant under construction in the car park of the Willow Brook Centre, Bradley Stoke, on 1st September 2022.

A sub-committee of three councillors is set to decide whether the soon-to-open McDonald’s restaurant and drive-through at Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook shopping centre will be permitted to trade during the ‘late night’ hours of 11pm to 5am.

A meeting of South Gloucestershire Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee will meet this Tuesday (6th September 2022) to determine an application from McDonald’s Restaurants Limited for a premises licence for the provision of ‘late night refreshment’. Holding such a licence is a requirement of the Licensing Act 2003.

Representations relating to the licence application made by the deadline of 15th August include 37 objections from residents. Bradley Stoke Town Council has also lodged an objection and will be officially represented at the hearing by Cllr Ben Randles, chair of the town council’s Planning & Environment Committee, and the town clerk.

The restaurant’s planning permission (granted on appeal in January 2020) allows for 24-hour opening, however obtaining a premises licence is a separate requirement that must be satisfied before the restaurant can serve hot food or drink between the stated ‘late night’ hours.

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The application will be assessed by the sub-committee with reference to the local authority’s Statement of Licensing Policy. This policy makes it clear that licensing applications “should not be seen as a re-run of the planning application process and there will be a clear separation of the planning and licensing regimes to avoid duplication and inefficiency”. In particular, it points out that the “need” for commercial premises is a planning matter, so will not be considered when evaluating the licence application.

The Licensing Act sets out four licensing objectives which must be taken into account and adhered to, namely:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • Public safety
  • Prevention of public nuisance
  • The protection of children from harm
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Applicant’s statements

On crime and disorder, the applicant states that the restaurant will have a motion-activated CCTV system and a Staffsafe™ system with both audio and visual monitoring capability. Avon and Somerset Police say they have “no objection to the licensing application”.

On public safety, the applicant states that the restaurant “has safety systems in place to protect the safety of customers and staff at all times (such as Staffsafe™)”. The store will operate a “no open alcohol containers” policy to prevent persons carrying open alcohol into the in-store area. SGC’s  environmental heath (health and safety) say they have no concerns. No response was received from Avon Fire & Rescue Service.

On public nuisance, the applicant states that McDonald’s is committed to carrying out litter patrols “collecting both McDonald’s packaging and any other litter that has been carelessly discarded”. The submission adds: “Where it is practical to do so, we are content to put measures in place to limit noise.”

On the protection of children, the applicant states: “McDonald’s do not anticipate that unaccompanied children will use the restaurant in the extended hours period covered by this licensing application. We do however take their safety extremely seriously and will continue to employ the same practices to ensure that they are protected from harm at all times when visiting the restaurant.”

Town council’s objection

Photo of the committee meeting in progress.
A meeting Bradley Stoke Town Council’s Planning & Environment Committee. (Archive image)

Bradley Stoke Town Council has submitted the following representation:

Bradley Stoke Town Councillors wish to raise significant concerns regarding this licensing application requesting extending the open hours throughout the night and object to the proposals.

Local residents have approached councillors raising concerns regarding an increase in litter around the town, increased anti-social behaviour, nuisance and negative impact on the local households surrounding the site, an impact on local wildlife from noise and litter and concerns regarding the nearness of the site to local houses. When the original planning permission was granted, the Tesco’s on site was operating 24 hours a day but this is no longer the case, so the circumstances are now completely different. In Fishponds, the McDonald’s has to close at 11pm as adjacent to residential dwellings.

Councillors are also concerned that the licensing application process for this application is floored [sic] as the documentation was delayed in being visible on the South Gloucestershire Council website for several days and, despite requests to extend the consultation because of this delay, this has not happened.

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The town council has also agreed the text of a more detailed submission, to be presented at the Licensing Sub-Committee meeting by Cllr Ben Randles, which includes the following:

If licensing or SGC have no legal grounds to refuse this application, or indeed simply approve it, we would highly encourage SGC and the applicant to assure residents of the following:

  • Delivery times to the outlet will not occur during night-time hours or during late evenings and early mornings.
  • Provisions are made to mitigate the noise from delivery collections (to clarify, popular food ‘App’ delivery drivers) using mopeds and cars.
  • Provisions are made to mitigate noise from any visiting public.
  • Litter-picking commitments of the McDonalds outlet are increased to accommodate extra hours and are extended beyond the immediate site.
  • Critically for the safety and security of the site, security provisions (importantly actual security personnel) are increased and visible to the community.

The full submission may be viewed in the draft minutes of a meeting of the town council’s Planning & Environment Committee held on 24th August.

Residents’ objections

Annotated plan showing 'brick to brick' distances between the proposed McDonald's and Starbucks food units and the closest property in Wheatfield Drive.
Annotated plan showing ‘brick to brick’ distances between the proposed McDonald’s food unit (bottom right) and the closest property in Wheatfield Drive (top left). The two distances shown are approximately 50m and 57m.

Some of the matters raised in residents’ submissions do not fall within the scope of the four licensing objectives (see above) and will therefore not be considered. For example, those stating that Bradley Stoke has “no need” for a late night restaurant and takeaway or that the sale of fast food will “encourage obesity”.

The valid submissions mention potential issues of noise, litter, smells, vehicle emissions, light pollution and anti-social behaviour.

Many respondents say that these issues will severely impact those living in residential properties that lie immediately behind the restaurant.

Several submissions express the fear that all-night trading will “attract boy-racers”, with the associated vehicle and music noise, and could even lead to the Willow Brook Centre car park becoming a venue for ‘car meet-ups’.

The ability of security staff at the Willow Brook Centre to deal with any additional anti-social behaviour is questioned, with one resident writing:

“Security on site is currently not sufficient and can do little if anything to abate problems that occur now.”

While another says:

“[There will be] an increased requirement for the police to attend this site as it will naturally become a congregation spot for vehicle meet-ups – and we all know how noisy and disruptive these can be. Please do not make the lives of those living close to this store unbearable.”

The appropriateness of the site for 24/7 opening is questioned by many, with one resident writing:

“How many other drive-thru McDonald’s placed in the middle of housing estates are open 24/7? Not Fishponds, not Yate shopping centre, not Sheene Road, Bedminster – they all close by 11pm. All the Bristol area McDonald’s that open 24/7 are either in or on the edge  of industrial estates, not right next to families’ homes. 24/7 opening for a drive-thru in Bradley Stoke is nothing short of ludicrous.”

Other residents say the late-night opening will attract “motorway traffic diverting for a night-time break” and cause “increasing footfall past homes in the early hours”.

Concerns are also expressed about noise from traffic using the access road into the shopping centre, which leads off the roundabout near the Three Brooks public house. This will potentially affect many more properties, it is claimed.

Read all the objections in full: Appendix 4 – Objections (SGC) [Scanned PDF, 886kB]

Leaflet drop

The ‘late night’ licence application is being opposed by the Bradley Stoke Conservative group, who have distributed a leaflet titled ‘Say No to All-Night McDonald’s Plans’.

Photo of a leaflet.

Local councillors Roger Avenin, Franklin Owusu-Antwi, Ben Randles, Edward He and John Ashe are quoted as saying:

“These plans would be bad for Bradley Stoke, increasing noise disturbances and litter in our community.”

The leaflet asks people to sign a petition which has the following tick boxes:

  • I agree that these plans should be rejected
  • I want the council to take action and stop fast food chains from operating during unsociable hours in residential areas
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Hearing procedure

The three members of the sub-committee formed for this hearing are:

Standby member: Cllr Paul Hughes (Con, Bitton and Oldland Common)

The members of the sub-committee will first hear a summary of the application from the council’s licensing officer. Representations will then be heard from the responsible authorities, ‘other persons’ (e.g. residents and town councillors) and the applicant. At each stage, members of the sub-committee may ask questions of a speaker.

The various parties are then given an opportunity to ask questions and then present a summary of their cases (without raising any new issues), after which the hearing is closed for the sub-committee members to determine the application in private.

Finally, the hearing is reconvened for the sub-committee chair to announce the decision.

The applicant, those making representations and the responsible authorities have the right of appeal through the magistrates’ court.

Should the licence be granted, it is possible for it to be called in for review at a later date should relevant representations be made in relation to one or more of the licensing objectives.

More information: Agenda and reports for the meeting of the Licensing Sub-Committee on Tuesday 6th September (SGC)

The new McDonald’s restaurant and drive-through is set to open on Wednesday 14th September.

Related links

Bradley Stoke latest news.

Meeting progress and decision

UPDATE added 6th September 2022.

Webcast: View meeting live (or archived)

11.44am: Meeting under way. The start (due at 10.30am) was delayed by almost 1hr 15min, apparently due to legal wrangling over whether the licence application had been correctly advertised for the required period of time.

1.32pm: The meeting has been paused for the sub-committee members (Cllrs Gawn, Hunt and Jones) to determine the application in private.

2.25pm: The Licensing Sub-Committee has agreed to GRANT the late night premises licence.

Those who made representations against have the right of appeal through the magistrates’ court.

An archived recording of the meeting is now available via the above link. The announcement of the decision, which includes a summary of the issues raised by all parties and the sub-committee’s reasons for arriving at their decision, begins 01:37:39 into the recording.

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