McDonald's: it's the final showdown

May 08 2017

DOZENS of Fishponds residents of all ages turned out for the opening of the seven-day McDonald's public inquiry.

DOZENS of Fishponds residents of all ages turned out for the opening of the seven-day McDonald's  public inquiry.

The hearing at City Hall was into the fast food giant's appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a large restaurant, drive-through and takeaway in Fishponds Road.

Planning inspector Martin Whitehead reopened the inquiry, which had to be adjourned last year because the firm's lead barrister was taken ill, on April 20 and it was due to conclude on May 2.

The Say No to McDonald's in Fishponds group (NoMacinF) held a demonstration before the start, then packed in to hear the opening statements from McDonald's, Bristol City Council and the group's chairman Mike Jempson.

Over the following days, witnesses for all three parties were examined and cross examined and the inspector visited the site of the proposed development, a former tile warehouse. Measurements were taken of the distance from the site to schools and a youth club.

The council's barrister, Emma Dring, said planning permission had been refused because of concerns about highway safety and the impact on residents, including noise, light pollution and smell. While the amenity issues could be dealt with by planning conditions, the road safety could not, she said.

Planning officer Catherine Tyrer acknowledged there were some benefits to the proposed development, which would improve a derelict site and bring employment, but said these were outweighed by the risks to the safety of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

Mr Jempson said the original planning application had given rise to 495 written statements and a petition signed by 1667 people, and more objectors had come forward since.

Risks to the health of children and young people and concerns about air pollution were big issues, as well as the impact on traffic and on people living nearby, he said.

Mr Jempson said the McDonald's would be principally a drive-through and takeaway, with only 20 per cent of customers predicted to sit in. This would mean frequent traffic movements on the already congested Fishponds Road.

Mr Whitehead is expected to announce his decision in about six weeks.