A planning application has been submitted for a ‘Drive-Thru’ McDonalds to replace the Renault car showroom on Barker Road.
This is a prominent site in the town centre which could otherwise form the centrepiece of a large regeneration of the Maidstone West train station area. The showroom has been derelict for some time now, and the developer proposes replacing it with a two storey McDonalds with a drive through (or ‘drive thru’ as they call it!).
There is certainly demand for a new drive-through McDonalds in Maidstone, but I don’t feel that this is the best place to put one. I, and my colleague Cllr Alistair Black, have asked that Officers refer this application to the planning committee for further scrutiny, if they are minded to approve it.
The following is our official notification:
Alistair Black and I request that this application is called in, if officers are minded to approve it, for the following reasons:
- a Mcdonalds ‘drive thru’, on this site, represents a lost opportunity for Maidstone. This prominent area of land is ripe for a high quality regeneration scheme, involving new leisure, entertainment and residential uses. If Maidstone aspires to have a concert hall for example, we think this is the only free location in the town centre that can deliver it along with the associated enabling development.
- If anything, the McDonalds application is premature, with the emerging Core Strategy due in 2013 and the Development Delivery DPD (which has absorbed the Town Centre Area Action Plan) hopefully being finalised in 2015. Such a major site should be steered by our place-shaping agenda.
- We think it is unlikely that the existing highway infrastructure can support a vast increase in vehicle movements here, particularly those accessing and egressing this site. The junction between Barker Road and the Broadway is already extremely busy, due to a large amount of new housing along Hart Street (these schemes are not yet all complete, so there are further vehicle movements to come). The ‘drive-thru’ alone is expected to generate an additional 80 car movements at peak times. The cumulative impact of the new local housing with this proposed ‘drive-thru’ could be increased congestion, misery for motorists, pedestrians and residents alike, and even junction failure from overcapacity.
Speaking personally, I recognise that there is demand for a Mcdonalds Drive-thru in Maidstone. Indeed, I have received a surprising amount of lobbying from residents over the years calling for one! But, whilst I welcome the decision of McDonald’s to invest in our town, I am not convinced that this is a good site for a drive-thru restaurant. I would urge them to meet with officers, and our Economic Development team, to site out potential alternatives.
I have previously written about other possibilities for this site. How about a wider regeneration scheme including a concert hall? Read it here