Thoughts on new ‘Drive-thru’ McDonalds for Maidstone

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

26 Responses to “Thoughts on new ‘Drive-thru’ McDonalds for Maidstone”

  • I agree. The Travelodge and Asda were a wasted opportunity for a proper concert hall. Let’s not miss this opportunity too.

  • Kathryn Moss:

    Who has been demanding a drive-through McDonalds? Where do these mysterious truths come from? I certainly haven’t been demanding one, and if anyone asked me I’d demand not to have one, thanks.

  • Stephen Paine:

    Hi Kathryn,

    I know, I was quite surprised myself! When I’ve done work talking to young people (17, 18, 19 and early 20 year olds in particular) about how to improve Maidstone… They want safer nights out with more to do, a Wagamama restaurant, and a drive-thru McDonalds! With the latter, I’ve actually had a number of people write to me over the last two years asking why we don’t have one already. Not what I expected at all, but I suppose that’s an interesting thing about this job!

    Thanks,

    Steve

  • Simon:

    The parking and access through Barker and Hart street is poor already, This will only add to the in adequate parking and highways that property owners are already frustrated with.

  • Maidstone Resident:

    I do not think a McDonald’s drive-thru is needed in an age when fast food is not ‘cool’ or healthy anymore plus on a one way system the council must have better plans for this site to improve the town centre instead of having youths hanging around a fast food outlet causing trouble, crime and annoying passer bys and residents. Please do not allow this to happen i am sure the flats next door do not want a mcdonalds either. Make maidstone more desirable to make people move out of the area.

  • Maidstone Resident:

    I do not think a McDonald’s drive-thru is needed in an age when fast food is not ‘cool’ or healthy anymore plus on a one way system the council must have better plans for this site to improve the town centre instead of having youths hanging around a fast food outlet causing trouble, crime and annoying passer bys and residents. Please do not allow this to happen i am sure the flats next door do not want a mcdonalds either. Make maidstone more desirable rather than to make people move out of the area.

  • Bob:

    We at hart street, river kebab, Marino fish n chips our small business will be effected, how can the council do this to us

  • Bob:

    We are struggling businesses, no one will come this way due to congestion

  • Sue Greenham:

    Although a concert hall is a wonderful idea (and I’ve been trying for a long time to find a way to get one for Maidstone), I don’t think that site is big enough. For a concert hall to accommodate a large orchestra and choir, changing rooms, foyer, seats, toilets and car park, I think we would need a lot more space. Maybe taking over the whole of Lockmeadow, which does seem to be failing very sadly at the moment, with closed restaurants and clubs, would be a good idea.
    However, we certainly don’t need another fast food place, or any other eating place, for that matter; Maidstone already has a wealth of places to eat and drink.
    Maybe a cultural centre on a smaller scale would be possible – Maidstone’s equivalent of the Purcell room or Wigmore Halls.

  • Lets face it: the council is strapped for cash so for them to take the building on as a project is silly. While a drive through/thru isn’t the best idea it will bring jobs and make use of an untidy and unsightly building. I’m in favour.

  • Maidstonian:

    I am all for this site for McDonald’s.
    This is 2013 and Maidstone is probably the only town in the country to not have a Drive Through facility for its restaurants.
    Why do you people not see the value of Jobs for the people in this town and the opportunity for the town to get rid of this ugly looking building and replace it with what seems to be a nice building by design submitted.
    Ive seen a couple of these places on my travels and they geneally fit in nicely.
    With the neighbourhood being Night clubs, food outlets, cinema etc. i think it would fit in nicely.

    Bring it on i say. I would definitely support this restaurant.

  • James Patterson:

    I think this is an absolutely wonderful idea, all those saying its not.. well you can shove a cheeseburger ******** *********** Tehe

  • Peter Burrows:

    As a grandfather with a grandson really looking forward to stopping off at McDonalds on his way home, I am sorry that this scheme has been rebuffed.
    Surely with a little bit of negotiation the station road could be opened up to allow traffic – from all points to move back onto the London road.
    The smells problem is rather ridiculous – there is a fish & chip shop adjacent, plus an Indian Restaurant.
    A concert hall ?? with parking where? and rather a small site for one don’t you agree.
    Headlamps can be blinded or directionalised with careful planning.
    Think again for gods sake.
    Whoever approved the Travelodge which will have rust running down its rather ugly fascia soon, surely isn’t still in charge of Maidstone planning are they?
    A well designed McDonalds would be great – come on Mac’D don’t give up and sort out your design team.

    • Stephen Paine:

      Hi Peter,

      I think McDonalds have taken on board the concerns of the council about transport, as well as local residents and businesses. They are very keen to turn this site into a drive-through and there is clear demand for one in Maidstone. I expect they will revise their planning application and submit in due course with an amended scheme.

  • NIck:

    This is a silly idea. Everyone is aware these day how damaging fast food really is and the general public are more aware of foods and what to eat..
    If people really need their mcdonalds fix they shouldnt be so lazy looking for a drive through and actually park in the many designated car parks in town and actually burn some calories walking into the high street to the mcdonalds that is already there..
    Its not rocket science really is it..
    Build the concert hall…

    If you build it, they will come

  • Maidstonian:

    Nick building a concert hall is a mad idea on such a small site. why not use the old cinema at the bottom of gabriels hill for something like that and use the chequers parking for it in the evening. a drive through for the town would be amazing if Macdonalds build this the people will definitely come.!!
    Bring it Maccy Ds Bring it soon!

    • Dear all,

      I think this has been a brilliant debate – thank you all for getting involved.

      The revised McDonalds application is due for a decision any moment now. I’ll let you all know the outcome when it is announced.

      Maidstonian – I think the idea of a Concert Hall on the old cinema site is an alternative worth pursuing, and I will suggest it to our officers when we next discuss Town Centre Allocations. The difficulty, as always, will be finding a commercial partner with heaps of money to make it happen!

      Thank you all, again.

      Steve

  • Tom mckirdy:

    Why not try something different with this space. Please see link below
    http://www.gymskitchen.com

    I think modern times have seen people looking after themselves a lot more. There are gyms all over Maidstone and most people no longer want to eat rubbish.
    Gyms kitchen restaurant provides great tasty food that is good for you and works with a lot of people’s training goals.

    This would be an ideal location. Being between trugym and David Lloyd it would attract all fitness individuals looking to reach their goals. Also topnotch, la fitness and fit4less are all in close proximity.

    I personally feel that this would be a different, healthy idea that people would love.

  • Maidstonian:

    Stephen

    Any news on the application for this site??

    Need to start saving my pennies to be first in the queue!!!

    • Stephen Paine:

      Hi Maidstonian,

      It has been granted permission, subject to legal agreements which require it to be a very high standard of design. I’m told McDonalds took on board the concerns raised by the council, and others, and amended their design accordingly.

      Thanks

  • Maidstonian:

    Tom,

    Why be so silly, Your idea would talk to individuals where as a Maccy’s talks to the world.

    Im sure that Macs would offer a lot more employment opportunity than your idea that would take a decade to gain momentum and probably end up going bust due to council rates for the size of the land and then it would stand empty again and rotting for another 4 years.

    • Tom mckirdy:

      Your right about Maccy d’s talking to the world but I have to say what a sad world we live in if we’re not able to try new things and constantly eat crap food. They wonder why so many people are overweight and have health issues when nothing is done to promote healthy lifestyles and healthy eating. I realise you can’t compete with macdonalds but there is already 2 macdonalds restaurants in Maidstone and I think it’s a pretty same old idea that is completely unnecessary. Oh well, I won’t be seeing something new and exciting in my town once again.

      • Stephen Paine:

        Hi Tom,

        It’s a great idea (Gym’s Kitchen). If you know the company, why don’t you get them to contact someone in the Economic Development department at MBC? They’ll help them decide if there are suitable venues in or around the town centre. They may be able to broker discussions with landlords / agents too.

        Thanks

        Steve

  • aaron:

    I think it is a good idea as it is giving more jobs I the maaidstone area as there is not enough at the moment

  • Mark:

    I am currently living in Maidstone as I’m at University and I am not sure if my opinion is vaild as I vote for in my constituency rather than here in Maidstone. Anyway, even though a McDonalds drive through isn’t the must have for a town, I was suprised that the biggest town in Kent didn’t have one. It is always handy having one but and the town where I come from in the North West of England have recently had 1 drive through McDonalds and one on the high street. Sadly under the Labour council in my town, they seem to simply not care about planning permission as another McDonalds drive through has been built in the town centre about 3 miles from the first one. This is an example of wreckless regard for the image of the town and its future. Although I don’t know Maidstone to well yet, there are a lot of places that make the town look rough e.g the old Renault car showroom and of course any new development SHOULD be better when thought out correctly but the location does seem odd to me given the amount of traffic that is there and as said before it will increase once the building is built. I believe that Maidstone could do with a McDonalds drive through but at the end of the day if there are more important things to be built (that are affordable) that will benefit the town then these must have priority.

    • Stephen Paine:

      Some valid points there. I guess a key think to note is that McDonalds own the land and McDonalds are spending the money, it’s a private investment (I.e. not tax payer money that’s being put towards this). It’s not something that the council have asked to go there – but we’re glad to see new jobs being generated from a derelict site.

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Cllr Stephen Paine

Maidstone Borough Councillor for Fant Ward

Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Development

m: 07906 271325
e: stephenpaine@maidstone.gov.uk
t: @SJAPaine

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