Evening Leader; 20th February 1997



CONSERVATIONISTS say plans for a McDonald's restaurant at Chester's Town Hall Square will destroy the "image and dignity" of one of the most historic sites in the city.

At a public inquiry yesterday, Chester Civic Trust said the proposed fast food outlet at the Forum shopping centre - opposite Chester Cathedral - would be a turn-off for tourists and residents.

Complaints were raised about the effect of litter on the square, which is used for both civic and religious processions.

But McDonald's bosses defended criticism by saying the restaurant would breathe new life into the square and enhance Chester's thriving shopping centre.

They have pledged to provide litter patrols and bins and stated that the design of the outlet would be "sympathetic" to the square, which is a designated conservation area.

If the public inquiry at the Grosvenor Hotel gives the green light, the 1.7m scheme would create 60 jobs and provide Chester's third and most prestigious McDonald's restaurant.

On the closing day of the inquiry, objections to the scheme - which was thrown out by city councillors in February last year - were put forward by the Chester Civic Trust, the city council's conservation department and city residents.


One trader, Geoff Mesney, has been serving fast food on the doorstep of the proposed restaurant for the past 15 years and expressed his objections to two fast food outlets operating within yards of each other.

In his summing up, John Barrett, representing the City Council, said tourists are not attracted to Chester just ts eat hamburgers.

He said: "The two reasons why the appeal is inappropriate are that firstly it is for a non-retail use on a primary shopping street, and secondly it is in a conservation area.

"Places such as Chester Cathedral will be directly affected by this proposal giving great weight to the sensitivity of the site."

Independent planning inspector Mr Colin Thompson, appointed by the Department of the Environment, will give his decision on the appeal within seven weeks.

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