Controversial plans to build a new McDonald’s fast food outlet near Newcastle’s biggest school are to be raised in the House of Commons.
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah, a former pupil of the school affected, Kenton, is taking the step as she is so outraged at the prospect of it being sited there.
The two-storey ‘drive thru’ outlet is planned for Kenton Lane on the site of the old Crofters Lodge pub, sparking huge controversy.
Despite 221 objections put to Newcastle City Council, and two online e-petitions signed by nearly 600 people against the scheme, officers have recommended that planning committee members grant the application at a meeting on Friday.
Ms Onwurah said:
“I’ll be raising it in the Commons on Monday at Department for the Communities and Local Government questions.
“If it gets approval, I’ll be asking Secretary of State Eric Pickles why councils can’t take proper account of strength of local feeling.
“If planning permission is refused and I certainly hope it is, McDonald’s may think of appealing. If it is allowed then the planning process will have failed. In either case I want too know where this puts the Government’s so called localism agenda.”
McDonald’s claim the scheme will help create 75 jobs and generate £1.9m for the local economy.
However, since the plan became public Kenton School, which has 2,000 pupils, parents and local residents have strenuously objected to it.
Their concerns are about increased traffic on an already busy road, litter, noise, anti-social behaviour and public health issues.
With the country in the middle of an obesity crisis amongst the young, and Newcastle having some of the worst figures for it, there are fears that having a fast food outlet near a school could make the situation worse.
In their report, planners said litter teams, acoustic screens and control of its opening and delivery times will keep noise and litter issues under control.
They also said the existing highway network will be able to cope with increased traffic while the council’s ‘Draft Core Strategy’ which seeks to control the location of, and access to, unhealthy eating outlets don’t justify refusing the proposal on public health grounds.
Ms Onwurah said:
“Obesity is a danger to our children’s future. I really don’t understand how the officers came to their conclusion.
“There is a McDonald’s already close by in Kingston Park, a commercial area, and that’s fine.
“This is a cynical attempt to grab a new market in an area close to a school.”
“I am calling for Newcastle City Council and McDonald’s to respect the views of the residents of Kenton and Kenton School which are overwhelmingly against the proposals because of the impact it will have on their environment.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 03 Sept 2014
Plans to build a new McDonald’s fast food outlet near Newcastle’s biggest school have provoked a storm of protest.
Feelings are so high it has caused a city councillor to stand down from the planning committee which will decide whether to give it the go ahead – to help organise protests against it.
David Pearmain, head teacher of Kenton School, where around 2,000 pupils study, has submitted a lengthy objection to the city council in which he concluded: “For the sake of our children’s health and safety, please do not approve this application.”
Coun David Stockdale, who represents the neighbouring Blakelaw ward, has taken the rare step of “recluse” – voluntary exclusion – because he felt so strongly against the application.
It is for a two-storey drive-through outlet on the old Crofters Lodge pub site at the junction of Kenton Lane and Ponteland Road.
“On the committee you have to be open minded about applications you consider,” he explained. “I’ve already got a pre-determined attitude towards this and it is against it.
“Newcastle has some of the highest incidents of childhood obesity in the country. It’s an epidemic and this would site a McDonald’s on a road leading to the biggest secondary school in the city.”
He added: “Until recently I had public health responsibility on the council. One of the things we did a lot of work on was the provision that we had more power to control unhealthy eating outlets.”
Coun Stockdale said feelings were running high in the area as he leafleted houses located near the proposed site.
Coun Stephen Lambert, who represents the Kenton ward, said: “I’ve had over 58 objections from the Kenton area to this proposal. We feel it’s inappropriate. It is on an extremely busy junction, so there are issues of highway safety.
“All three Kenton councillors are supporting the residents who object to this planning application.”
A local resident who didn’t want to be named, said: “There’s are already two McDonald’s in the area, including one at Kingston Park.
“Obviously it will be a temptation to kids at lunchtime and we worry about it attracting anti-social behaviour. Petitions are being gathered and a lot of people have objected on Newcastle City Council’s website.”
One person who has is Mr Pearmain. He wrote: “Kenton School enjoys the Healthy Schools Award status, but Kenton students will be far more tempted than ever before to buy fast food snacks because of the proximity to the school.
“We know that unhealthy eating and its associated conditions are very high in the relatively deprived districts which are close to the site and which the school serves.
“Although McDonald’s also serves healthy food for those who choose it, as a commercial organisation they allow their paying customers free choice across their products and many young people will choose unhealthy options without the guidance they would receive in school. This will tend strongly to undermine the City Council’s own health policies.”
A McDonald’s spokesperson: “At McDonald’s, we serve good food made from quality ingredients, many of which are sourced from over 17,500 British and Irish farmers. We offer a broad choice and we provide clear nutrition information on our menu boards so our customers can make informed choices that are right for them.
“We would like to reassure local residents that our main priority is to be a good neighbour and we are happy to work with any member of the local community who has concerns about the impact of our business.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 25 June 2014