Rutland, which has the unusual distinction of being the only council in England without a McDonald’s, has approved plans for the fast food chain’s first restaurant in the area.
Rutland County Council met on 14th January to consider an application for a restaurant with drive-thru on the outskirts of well-to-do Oakham. Eight council members voted in favour of the proposals following a recommendation from planning officers, subject to a number of conditions on landscaping and building materials. There was only one abstention.
The move represents a major departure for the county which has so far prided itself on a lack not just of a McDonald’s but also of other fast food mainstays like KFC or Burger King.
The council – England’s smallest – said it had received 80 representations from members of the public both against and in favour of the plans. While some opponents fear an increase in litter and anti-social behaviour, as well a decline in house prices, others hoped it would provide young people with somewhere to go, as well as creating jobs.
Councillor Gordon Brown, cabinet member for planning at Rutland Council, said: “I know there are lots of people, both inside and outside of Rutland, who have strong opinions about whether or not there should be a McDonald’s in the county.
“It’s the job of planning officers and the planning committee to look at every application objectively and dispassionately. We have to be impartial and can only make decisions based on whether or not an application complies with the relevant national and local planning policies. In the case of McDonald’s, the development put forward has been approved because it would not have an adverse impact on neighbouring homes and businesses, or the character of the surrounding area, and will create a significant number of new jobs on land that is set aside for employment, rather than houses.”
McDonald’s, which said it was “delighted” by the decision, has committed to three litter picks a day around the site to address concerns about rubbish being strewn about the county.