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McDonald's launches bid for A31 drive-thru
MCDONALD’S has launched a multimillion pound bid to open a restaurant and drive-thru in Ringwood.
The company wants to create an outlet on the A31 near the town by transforming the former Little Chef building at Picket Post, creating 65 jobs.
But proposals to include a drivethru lane and an outdoor seating area were rejected by the National Park Authority (NPA) earlier this year.
Critics said the scheme would destroy a buffer between the building and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and also raised worries about litter and light pollution.
Now McDonald’s has gone back to the drawing board and devised a new scheme that aims to address these concerns.
The company’s latest planning application includes a 22-page design and access statement which says: “A robust landscaping scheme is proposed at the site to overcome the concerns raised by objectors. A bespoke ‘litter fence’ will be erected to help prevent litter from escaping from the site and into the National Park.
“A green screen will be erected along the drive-thru lane to dissuade customers from leaving their vehicles and gaining access to the National Park from the site.”
The statement says lighting levels along the northern boundary of the site have been “considerably reduced” by altering the elevation of the lights.
It adds: “A comprehensive tree survey, landscape plans and lighting assessment have been submitted. The documents confirm that any impact on the SSSI would be negligible.
“The bolstered landscaping would ensure that the site will be contained and open views to the site would be limited.
“We’re confident the proposals will ensure the development and operation will have a limited impact on the National Park.”
McDonald’s says the scheme will create 65 full- and part-time jobs.
An application to turn the former Little Chef building into a restaurant/ takeaway was approved by the NPA last year. However, a proposal to add a drive-thru lane and other facilities was thrown out by the same organisation in May, against the advice of planning officers.
NPA member John Sanger said: “It would be naive to think that this scheme will enrich the community in any way.”
But fellow member Maureen Holding supported the proposal, saying the site was currently an eyesore.
She added: “I’m sure a company such as McDonald’s will co-operate with the NPA and help us achieve the things we want.”
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