Big McNo To McDonalds

Another VICTORY for Local Residents over McDonald's

New Forest, England

October 2001

  1. Residents in Dibden Purlieu (England) have won a two-year battle to prevent McDonald’s from building a drive-through restaurant in their tranquil village on the edge of the New Forest.
  2. McDonald’s has now abandoned its attempt to convert a motor workshop and showroom on the Beaulieu Road, Dibden Purlieu, after being refused planning permission for the development twice.
  3. The New Forest District Council (NFDC) voted unanimously to REFUSE planning permission in July 2000 following an avalanche of objections from local residents, which included a 1100 name petition and 463 letters of objection. Protestors waving placards and banners "GO AWAY MCDONALDS", "MCDONALDS BURGER OFF", "MCDONALDS NOT WANTED AT DIBDEN PURLIEU" lobbied at the council meeting, and a residents’ representative addressed the Planning Committee to explain local people’s concerns and objections.
  4. Residents objected to the increased traffic the development would bring and the consequent increased risk to children at the nearby school, the noise, smell and also the litter so close to the New Forest and the dangers this would pose to Forest animals and wildlife. Residents were supported by the New Forest Association and the Council for the Protection of Rural England, who shared the concerns about increased traffic and the depositing of litter in the New Forest. Other groups agreeing with these objections included the New Forest Committee, English Nature and the Forestry Commission. The NFDC’s assessment noted that there was evidence that this had become a problem when a drive through take away opened close to Dartmoor National Park.
  5. McDonald’s presented their usual traffic study arguing that 75% of traffic would already be passing by and the usual noise report demonstrating no adverse effects. Residents didn’t believe this for one minute. They knew that McDonald’s would inevitably attract more traffic than predicted and not only would residents have to put up with the additional vehicle noise, congestion and fumes but also the restaurant’s car parking provision would end up being inadequate - resulting in vehicles parked in local roads, to the detriment of local residents, pedestrians and cyclists. People were also worried about the noise and disturbance from anti-social behaviour, for which fast food outlets are renowned, particularly at weekends. Fortunately, many local councils (including NFDC) include this aspect in their local plans, and these are an important consideration when judging planning applications.
  6. McDonald’s also promised to undertake litter patrols in the New Forest area itself. However, the NFDC wisely decided not to rely on McDonald’s promises to look after the interests of the Forest’s animal population. Furthermore, the council was unconvinced by the benefits of McDonald’s creating Mcjobs, and a parish councillor told the local press that there were already 74 vacancies for this type of work in the locality.
  7. Residents fully expected McDonald’s to appeal, and were gobsmacked when the company had the audacity to submit a second application to develop the site into a fast food drive-through restaurant. Residents were not deterred, and objections and protests began rolling in all over again - including an additional 400 letters of objection to the planning office. This time, McDonald’s had the cheek to propose a narrowing of the main road by widening their pavement to improve their "visibility splay" to traffic to and from the right, one of the technical reasons for their previous refusal. Local residents pointed out that c1970 the people opposite had lost 5ft of their front gardens by compulsory purchase order (Hants CC) to widen the road for anticipated traffic growth in the years to come. Residents suggested they wanted their gardens back rather than McDonalds’ gain their 1.3m wider pavement. McD’s consultants’ tried to pressurise local officers, citing their past appeals to emphasise (bully?) to the officers that there were no grounds to refuse the application this time and that officers should recommend that it be granted.

In April 2001, the NFDC once again REFUSED permission. Particular concerns were:

  • The development failing to meet the provisions of the local plan, and the harm to residential amenity.
  • McDonald’s narrowing of the carriageway merely to accommodate their own access but to the detriment of other road users.
  • No provision to encourage customers and staff to travel by means other than the private car.
  • Dangers to New Forest animals from discarded litter.

McDonald’s had until October 2001 to appeal, and residents braced themselves for yet another battle.

But McDonald’s didn’t go to appeal! They have now pulled out of the site! The company’s spokesman, Robert Parker, told the local press: "There’s no one reason why we have decided to pull out. But it’s been going on for some time and after taking all the issues into account we’ve decided not to proceed with the scheme."

We know why they pulled out - they knew they would lose!

Heath Garage, the owner of the site, has told the local press that it plans to sell it to a housing company to develop into sheltered retirement flats.

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