Joy as Fishponds Big Mac is turned down by planning committee

fishponds protest 039Bristol city councillors have tonight thrown out McDonald’s controversial plans for a Drive-Thru restaurant on Fishponds Road.

Campaigners against the scheme to redevelop the old Bristol Tiles site turned out for tonight’s meeting of the development control committee and applauded the decision which came shortly before 8pm and was unanimous.

There had been protest marches and rallies against the proposal for a two-storey restaurant in the largely residential area and it sparked a 1,699-name petition and around 500 individual objections.

There had been concerns about road safety, air quality, litter, noise and odour, and the health impact due to the proximity to several local schools.

Mike Williams, head of acquisitions for McDonald’s, told tonight’s meeting that his company considered the location as “excellent” for a new restaurant. He said there had been 230 letters of support for the scheme but McDonald’s was also “acutely aware” of local concerns.

He said McDonald’s considered itself to be a “good neighbour” and had commissioned various studies which showed that a new fast-food restaurant on the site would not impact adversely on the local community.

The proposed opening hours had also been revised from 24 hours a day to 6am to 11pm.

But councillors agreed with their officers’ recommendation that the scheme should be refused on highway safety grounds. The committee was told that it could not consider the public health aspect raised by many because the fast food restaurant would be beyond the 400m distance to schools laid down by guidelines.

Cllr Colin Smith (Labour, Bedminster) said the traffic plans for turning into the site were “immensely dangerous”.

And Bill Payne (Labour, Frome Vale) said residents had made a “compelling case” for the committee to turn down the scheme.

After the meeting Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy, who was an outspoken critic of the  scheme, said it was “great news” that the planning committee had unanimously rejected the application.

Campaigners are now planning to meet at the old Bristol Tile site at 11am on Saturday to decide what to do next. The overwhelming strength of feeling about the proposed restaurant has brought the community together and there are hopes that local people will not work towards getting a Neighbourhood Plan in place for Fishponds Neighbourhood Plans, introduced as part of the Localism Act, allow local people to get the right type of development for their community.