Burger chain McDonald's has turned down the chance to speak at a public meeting on Thursday organised to discuss the controversial scheme to turn the White Lion pub into a drive-thru restaurant.
Mr David Ward, communications officer for London North and South, told the Observer: "We do want to listen to the views of all sections of the local community, but we don't want to attend a large public venue where we would have to give an immediate response.
"We would prefer to listen to people's views, digest them and then respond to their concerns."
Mr Ward said he would like to hear a summary of the objections "in a more controlled environment" and has suggested a meeting of two McDonald's representatives and two from the East Grinstead Coalition Against the McDonald's Plan on neutral territory.
But protestor Richard Tassell said he wanted an open meeting with the public present to hear any comments made.
"It is disappointing, as I wanted McDonald's to put forward their point of view in order to be as fair as possible," he said.
Those scheduled to speak on the plan will be local green campaigner Adrian Salmon and county-councillor Dorothy Hatswell.
Both are expected to object to the plan, which got town council backing on September 9, on environmental and traffic grounds.
Meanwhile, director of the White Lion pub in London Road, Shah Afshar, has said it is almost certain his stepfather Kummas Khazaie will agree to sell the pub to the fast food chain, despite efforts on his part to persuade him otherwise.
"For us, the White Lion is our livelihood but it has never been the about the money - it's about creating a lovely atmosphere and seeing people enjoy themselves," he said.
"We like it here and want to stay, but the decision rests with my step-father, although I will keep trying to change his mind right up to the last minute."
If McDonald's scheme does get the go ahead from the district council, and the pub is sold to the burger chain, then Shah said he would make sure his staff were looked after.
"They are more than staff, they are friends and I have a responsibility towards them," he said.