Shaftesbury Community Against McDonald's (SCAM)

Shaftesbury Circle,
Harrow, Middlesex

5th October 2003

McDonald's had 6 months to appeal against the Council's decision to refuse the drive-through and didn't. The time to appeal has now expired. McDonald's told the local press that it "wasn't financially viable to appeal."

As far as our community is concerned, if McDonald's even thinks about trying for this drive-through for a third time - we'll be ready for them. And the opposition will be even stronger.

From the Guardian's City diary, October 7, 2003

Some good news in the battle against global mega-corporations: the plucky residents of Harrow have finally gained a victory against food-style product vendor McDonald's over its plans to build a drive-through restaurant extension opposite a school with 1,000 pupils and with an exit by a bus stop leading on to a very busy roundabout. An ideal spot from a road safety point of view, obviously. McDonald's may have thought so but the locals fought back and lobbied the council to refuse planning permission. After four years battling over the issue, McDonald's has finally thrown in the napkin.
'McDonald's Back Down'

from the Harrow Times
16 October 2003

A fantastic 'people power' account of SCAM's victory

Click here for story

Previous Victories and Background

McDonald’s Fried in Harrow

12th March 2003

The local people of Harrow have succeeded - for the second time - in preventing a drive-through at the McDonald’s restaurant, Shaftesbury Circle, Harrow.

On 12th March 2003, councillors refused permission for the drive-through, and the decision was supported by local planning officials.

This is the second time that McDonald’s have tried to build a drive-through on this site. In 1999, the company applied for planning permission for changes to its ‘car park layout’ and tried to pretend that it wasn’t for a drive-through. Local people weren’t fooled for one minute, and nor were local councillors.

The local planning officials recommended granting the application. Following much campaigning by local people, the ‘changed car park’ (aka drive-through) - was refused planning permission. McDonald’s then lodged an appeal, asking for a public enquiry - although they withdrew the appeal application before it was heard.

3 years later, McDonald’s came back. This time telling the truth and applying for planning permission for a full drive-through (including order / collection booths). What we knew all along and have always said - they wanted a drive-through!

McDonald’s often come back in this way - hoping that previous objectors have gone away or cannot be bothered. How wrong they were on this one! Objections to them in the Shaftesbury Circle area have actually grown since they opened the restaurant and started trading.

Following much campaigning by local people - a petition of over 900 signatures, over 200 letters of objection, letters to the local press and articles in the local press - the application was refused unanimously by local councillors, with the support of planning officials. Local people attended the meeting and the decision was greeted with cheering and a round of applause.

What we did:

  • Campaigning. Big petition, tons of objection letters, letters to the local press and articles in the local press.

  • Researched our planning grounds for refusal and shared them with local councillors. Planning grounds are in your local development plan (every authority has one of these) and the Government’s PPGs (Planning Policy guidance notes). These can be viewed and downloaded from the web at

  • Be aware that everything you give to local planning officials (officers, not councillors) will be passed on to McDonald’s. Officers have no choice but to do this, because of the nature of their role.

It’s been 4 years of effort - but worth it! For more information about the Harrow campaigns, please see our website at

See also Copyright stops protestors seeing McDonald's plans

A Brief History leading to the Council's decision to turn down McDonalds application for a drive through at Shaftesbury Circle, Harrow Middx ­ October 1999

May 1999 ­ The Horror of the McDonalds Application

The Borough Planning Office notified only 72 neighbours of the 'Hungry Horse' public house site of McDonald's planning application which included proposals for what was effectively a drive through. This is a large residential area - and the small number of notifications excluded people who live only a few hundred metres away. The proposal was right next door to a 1000 pupil high school. Local people were horrified and concerned with impacts of traffic, noise and litter.

The application would be considered at the Sub-Committee Planning on 19th July. Opposition started gradually as the word spread and there were 2 initial petitions and a deputation organised.

19 July Meeting ­ The Local Planning Sub-Committee

The officer presented revised site plans on the night with some amendments to the original application. The officers recommendation was to accept (based on a very narrow interpretation of the planning laws and the difficulty with class A3 legislation). The objections were debated. Some councillors from the ruling party were concerned about potential McDonalds litigation if turned down. Consequently, the outcome of the meeting was that it would be considered by the full planning committee.

July / August 1999 ­ SCAM gets organised

Residents and parents get more organised and formed SCAM (Shaftesbury Community Against McDonald's).

Our main activities were:

  • Researching planning regulations to ascertain possible grounds for refusal (if refused on valid planning grounds, the council don't get Mcstuffed with costs if they lose at appeal).
  • Writing to ward councillors and contacting them by telephone (the high school has a wide catchment area, and there were councillors on the planning sub-committee and full committee who had not realised that there were voters in their ward that did not want this).
  • Mobilising parents and other members of the local community to write to their ward councillors (people often think that their single voice doesn't count - but of course it does).
  • Mobilising people to write letters of objection to the Planning Office. Alerting the local MPs.
  • Organising additional petitions for those who missed the last ones (the first ones were done quite hurriedly, late in the day).
  • Contact McLibel support and Hinchley Wood for help.
  • Speaking to councillors from all parties on the Planning Committee.
  • Alerting them to the Hinchley Wood decision (which gave them confidence that such applications could be refused successfully).
  • Giving them contact numbers on Hinchley Wood council.
  • Contacting the press regarding our campaign.

September 1999 ­ Some Progress Made

Councillors are now in no doubt of the groundswell of local community opinion. They begin to realise that the original officer's report was perhaps not as comprehensive as it might have been Officers are now sympathetic and very helpful when we contact them with questions etc.

McDs give us our first press release on a plate - by writing to residents with the wrong date for the planning committee. Local press now very interested.

Plans for protest and deputation at next meeting (19 Oct) underway. Includes leaflets, posters, banners, additional petitions, lobby outside Civic Centre before the planning meeting. System of giving lifts for elderly finalised.

Brief for councillors on the Planning Committee being prepared with main focus on evidence of traffic and impact on local community.

19 October 1999 ­ Full Council Meeting ­ McDonalds Application Refused

Around 100 people packed the council chamber on a cold, windy night - and not near where anyone lives. Supported by over 1000 signatures . Protesters were a mix of residents, parents (including Mums with little ones in pushchairs), school staff and children; mix of age and ethnic groups . Representative of our local community.

Jane (parents) and Judy (residents) do speeches. Both get big rounds of applause from the floor. Photo boards held up by two of our group as we speak, so councillors can see our visual evidence. McDs do representation. No-one booed or heckled - we're sure she's a nice person really - it's just her choice of employer that's flawed.

Debate for two and one half hours. Issues thoroughly covered. Hinchley Wood report raised by one of the councillors - quizzed officer about differences.

Council unanimously voted to refuse permission. Loads of cheering and applause. Halfway through meeting, Mcds lady leaves room and phones for re-inforcements - three McDs people there by the end of the evening - too late - the damage was done.

22 October 1999 ­ Press Reports

Both local papers lead in the front page on the McProtest story. The damage for them continues.

The Future

The outcome for this site is still not certain. McDonalds could appeal. McDonalds have threatened to build a non-drive through on this site and some works on the site are still proceeding. Up to date reports are available on SCAMs website at

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