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M C S P O T L I G H T
P R E S S . R E L E A S E . December 2002
Another Residents Success Story!
McDonalds Withdraws Application for Ecclesall Road, Sheffield at Eleventh Hour
A proposal for a sixty-seater restaurant in a shopping precinct on Ecclesall Road was made on behalf of McDonald’s Restaurants in July 2002. Ecclesall Road is a main access route to the city centre. It is lined by independent shops and restaurants with only a few national chain stores. The local student population is high although the area also has many family residents bringing up children in the area. There is a strong sense of community and people are happy with the street cafes and great variety of shops in the area.
Local opposition to the McDonald’s proposals was strong and local shopkeeper Paul Iseard raised a petition opposing the plans. It was signed by over 2400 people during the summer period and presented to the full Council in September 2002.
The Planning Officers recommended refusal due to lack of parking, unsatisfactory delivery arrangements and the disruption to local residents. In December 2002, on the morning of the Planning Committee meeting, McDonald’s withdrew the application.
McDonald’s presented the proposal as a new specially modified style of restaurant designed to suit suburban areas. It would shut at 11pm and offer a restricted menu but with these exceptions there was really no discernible difference to their usual formula.
In their favour the shopping precinct has a number of empty units and residents living above were concerned about the negative impact and the lack of rental income that would naturally reduce expenditure on maintaining and refurbishing the site generally. McDonald’s argued that the area was in need of revitalisation and could easily accommodate another fast food outlet.
Against them were the following considerations:
Given the strength of local opposition the local press gave sympathetic coverage to the anti-McDonald’s campaign. The campaign was supported by a prominent local councillor. The local Lib-Dem MP also wrote a letter of protest as did the Chamber of Trade, the vicar of the local church, the Friends of the Botanical Gardens, and the local community group. In addition to the petition, around 50 letters of objection were received.
It was clear from the plans that McDonald’s had given little thought to the details of the location and the constraints they placed on their proposed operation. Particularly, they did not seem to realise that the lack of access to the rear was going to be a significant problem. Their original plans showed a waste storage area built onto the back but a site inspection would easily have established that there simply was not room for this. They seem to have assumed they could build onto the service road! They then proposed storing waste in a couple of empty lock-up garages provided for the use of residents above! Neither did McDonald’s realise the extent of the parking problems, seeming to think that they could bluff their way through with the claim there is sufficient parking. Thankfully, the Council carried out a traffic survey to update their data, and along with my own data was able to use lack of parking as a primary ground for refusal of planning permission.
Campaigning against this application was easy because McDonald’s had not done their homework on the site. They ignored the local campaign and restricted their response to brief press statements when approached by journalists.
The company acting on their behalf was based in London and clearly had little knowledge of the local situation.
Far from being a well-oiled corporate machine able to push its proposals through, they came across as poorly prepared and insensitive. Had they made a proper assessment of the site it is my belief they would not have applied in the first place.
Don Alexander’s "Famous Sheffield Shop"
Tel. 0114 2685701 daytime Monday to Saturday
Post: BM McSpotlight, London, WC1N 3XX, UK
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