Hempstead and Wigmore
Construction of a drive-thru restaurant, reconfiguration of car park and closure of multi-storey car park exit ramp.
The Head of Planning outlined the planning application in detail and explained the changes that were proposed at the shopping centre site to accommodate the provision of a drive-thru restaurant This included removal of two small car parking areas and the closure of one of the access roads into the centre.
The Committee discussed the application and in response to questions, the Head of Planning confirmed that as there would also be provision of a sit down restaurant, those parking spaces provided at the restaurant site would be for sole use by restaurant customers.
Members expressed concern that the provision of a drive-thru restaurant at this site could result in a conflict of use with queuing vehicles blocking access for others wishing to access the shopping centre.
In addition, whilst it was noted that the applicant had offered to put in place a Litter Management Plan which would involve litter picking for a 100m radius of the restaurant site, concern was expressed that being a drive-thru, it was likely that customers would purchase their food and then drive away from the site to nearby beauty spots and then potentially dispose of their litter. It was therefore generally considered that a 100m radius litter pick was insufficient.
The Committee had regard to the origins of the Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre, which had been designed to provide a high quality development in a residential area and the setting of the Centre was considered important when considering any future development of the site. In particular, the provision of suitable landscaping was considered essential to protect local residents from the impact of any developments at the Centre.
In recent years a number of developments including restaurant facilities had been introduced at the site following the closure of the Food Court within the Shopping Centre but the provision of a drive-thru restaurant on this site was considered to be a departure from the original design principles of the Centre and would likely create conflict for users of both facilities.
It was also noted that the proposed drive-thru would be open for longer hours than the Shopping Centre, thus encouraging increased traffic generation and use of the site late into the evening and this was considered to be detrimental to the residential area. It was also possible that use of the site could generate anti-social behaviour in the evenings.
Some Members also expressed concern that there were already a number of drive-thru restaurants in near proximity to this site and therefore a further drive-thru facility was not needed.
The Principal Transport Planner responded to concerns regarding the likely increase in vehicular movements, should the application be approved and advised that the Traffic Engineers were satisfied that the proposed facility would not create conflict of use for vehicles using the site.
The Head of Planning advised that should the Committee be minded to approve the application, the proposed condition relating to Litter Management could be strengthened.
a) Refused on the following grounds:
1. The provision of a drive-thru restaurant is not in keeping with the design principles of the Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre as a whole.
2. The provision of a drive-thru restaurant is likely to result in traffic congestion at the entrance of the facility and potential conflict for users of the site.
3. The provision of a drive-thru restaurant at this location will have a negative impact upon the amenity of local residents as a result of potential littering of the surrounding area.
b) The Head of Planning was granted delegated authority to agree the specific wording of the refusal grounds with the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Opposition Spokesperson outside of the meeting.