Posted: 03.12.19 at 18:16 by Daniel Clark - Local Democracy Reporter
Plans for a new drive-thru McDonalds as part of a massive new service station right next to the A30 near Exmouth have been deferred.
The fast food giant had hoped to open as part of a scheme that would also see a roadside service and petrol station built for the site at Straightway Head Junction, next to the Daisymount roundabout.
Officers had recommended that East Devon District Council’s development management committee approve the scheme when they met on Tuesday afternoon.
It would have included:
-A petrol filling station with five pumps.
-A forecourt shop/sales building measuring 500 sqm located in the centre of the site comprising a sales area, a hot food and coffee outlet.
-A total of 103 car parking spaces, including 81 light vehicle spaces, 4 disabled spaces, 10 motorcycle spaces, 8 HGV/coach spaces and two electric vehicle charging points.
-A two storey building with accompanying drive-thru and associated outdoor play area. The applicant has stated that McDonalds is the intended operator.
But councillors eventually agreed to defer the application until a future meeting over concerns they had about the proposed design of the scheme and to allow for CGI images to be produced that would give them an accurate idea of how it would impact on the landscape.
It came after a vote to approve the application was lost by seven votes to six, as was a vote for a site inspection to take place, and councillors struggled to put forward a reason for refusal.
Planning permission for a much larger service station that also included a hotel had previously been granted and officers said that been implemented, so the principle of the development had already been agreed.
Chris Rose, the council’s development manager, outlined why officers recommended that the plans be approved.
He said that the proposal has the support of Highways England who have advised that there is a need for a facility on the A30/A303 in Devon, and that they support the principle of the proposal of a Trunk Road Service Area at this location.
He added: “The site is considered to be well located in terms of providing an additional roadside service facility to perform the required road safety function.
“When coupled with job creation during construction, longer term employment opportunities within the petrol filling station, shop and the drive through building and the contribution to the local economy that would be derived from this scheme are considered to be significant social and economic benefits that outweigh the limited and localised visual impact and landscape harm.”
Mr Rose said that the principle of a service station on the site has already been agreed. He said the opinion of officers was that the larger scheme, which also includes a hotel and was originally agreed in 1997, renewed in 2002 and 2004, and then saw reserved matters granted in 2007 and varied in 2011, has been implemented and remains extant due to the construction of the vehicular access to the site.
He added: “There are concerns about whether the previously consented scheme is commercially viable, but it is accepted that there is an extant planning permission for a substantially larger scheme on the site which would have a far greater impact than the proposed roadside services.”
Jason Lowes, on behalf of the applicant, added: “This site does have permission for a larger scheme but this is smaller and will meet modern customer expectations and a recognised highways need in the area.”
But local resident Paul Yeo queried the required need for this given that there is a 24 hour service station at Sowton, less than 10 minutes down the road. He added: “It will take money out of the local businesses in Ottery St Mary as youngsters will go to McDonalds. There isn’t a need for the large site.”
Councillor Alan Cook, on behalf of West Hill parish council, added that they had concerns about light pollution, the effect on the environment, that is would be unsympathetic to the location, and whether the amount of work done was sufficient to claim the existing planning permission had been implemented.
Councillor Jess Bailey, who represents the West Hill and Aylesbeare Ward, said that she was shocked, horrified, and astonished that with the backdrop of a climate change and ecological emergency, council officers are supporting the development of a petrol station and two storey McDonalds drive-thru on top of a very large hill.
She added: “This will cause significant detriment to the character and the landscape. The proposed larger scheme was more sympathetic scheme and this will be forever more be an eyesore.”
Councillor Bailey said it failed to meet landscaping requirements due to the unsympathetic design and that it threatened the local shops and garages in the village communities as people will call into this on the way home instead of them.
Councillor Ollie Davey told his fellow committee members that there were a good number of reasons to refuse what was a ‘horrible idea’.
He said that a McDonald’s did not meet the policy requirement as being an essential service, it wasn’t appropriately spaced as it was just 10 minutes from Exeter, and that design of it meant it would be ‘high-up, visible, and a blot on the landscape’.
He added: “I have grave concerns. They want to put a 24 hour McDonalds there which will be an absolute magnet for local residents and not just for hungry travellers. There are a good number of reasons to refuse this horrible idea.”
But Councillor Tom Wright proposed that they go along with the officer’s recommendation and approve it. He said: “I think there is a need for a service area. The on at Exeter is already full at peak times and any service area on the A30 which will reduce the traffic coming on and off the M5 at Junction 30 would be welcome as it is already chocker. This is a major trunk roads and we do need facilities for motorists who want to stop.”
Councillor David Key added: “I cannot see what the detrimental effect of having it there would be.”
A vote for approving the application as per the officer recommendation, but with a stronger worded condition over the colours scheme took place, but was lost by seven votes to six.
Councillor Geoff Pratt then proposed a site visit take place to assess the visual impact, but that also fell by seven votes to six.
With the committee legally having to vote in favour of something, not just against an application, Councillor Mike Howe, chairman of the committee, initially said that although he was worried about it stacking up, he proposed refusal on visual impact and design grounds as there wasn’t really any other option left.
But following discussion with officers, a recommendation to defer the application for further information on the design and landscape of the scheme and for some CGI images as to what it will look like to be produced, was suggested.
Councillors voted by 12 votes to one abstention in favour of this option. No date for when it would return in front of the committee was named, but the next two meetings are set to take place on January 7 and February 4, 2020.