Drive-thru restaurant provisionally approved for Worthing petrol station despite objections from residents and MP

Plans for a new drive-thru restaurant at a Worthing petrol station have been provisionally approved despite serious concerns from local residents and an MP.
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In November 2023, Motor Fuel Group (MFG) submitted plans for a drive-thru restaurant at the MRH Brooklands petrol station in Brighton Road, Worthing (AWDM/1586/23).

The proposal would see the extension of the existing sales building to accommodate a new 'food-to-go', including a drive-thru, the removal of car wash, the provision of two jet washes and relocated car care bay, reconfiguration of car parking, a new bin store and associated works.

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It is not yet clear what restaurant will be moving in to the site, which already houses a Costa Coffee.

Motor Fuel Group (MFG) submitted plans for a drive-thru restaurant at the MRH Brooklands petrol station in Brighton Road, Worthing. Photo: Google Street ViewMotor Fuel Group (MFG) submitted plans for a drive-thru restaurant at the MRH Brooklands petrol station in Brighton Road, Worthing. Photo: Google Street View
Motor Fuel Group (MFG) submitted plans for a drive-thru restaurant at the MRH Brooklands petrol station in Brighton Road, Worthing. Photo: Google Street View

A planning statement, submitted by JMS Planning and Development, read: “It is considered that the application is of significant merit as it upgrades the existing service station facilities on site providing a ‘food-to-go’/hot food drive-thru plus jet wash/car care facilities for the benefit of existing customers.

"The application proposal will enhance the site’s offer, being complementary to the main petrol filling station use utilising hardstanding and developed land and will provide a new ‘food to go’/hot food takeaway offer to meet the expectations of the modern motorist. The proposal is in accordance with policy which recognise that businesses need to be flexible and adaptable, particularly in these uncertain times."

Dozens of local residents objected to the plans – and were supported by Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham.

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In a letter to the council, he wrote: “I have been approached by a number of constituents who will be impacted by this development if it goes ahead. I am pleased to offer my support. I have also visited the site to see the likely impact and have many concerns if this development is allowed.

“I gather that this stretch of the A259 is the second busiest road in Worthing, second only to the A27, and adding a drive-thru fast-food restaurant can only add considerably to that congestion.

"I welcome the call for the highways authority at West Sussex to have more time to consider the application as there are potentially considerable implications. Congested traffic also leads to increased in air pollution and this is already a road which scores high on air pollution monitoring.

Residents are in the area are very concerned about the likely impact on litter which is already a problem in the area as well as cooking smells.

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"The garage is very close to a quiet residential area and this would be fundamentally changed if such a proposal goes through and the garage becomes a major destination for local people seeking fast-food rather than just the passing motorist seeing petrol and a coffee or snack now.

"It is not surprising therefore that so many local residents have signed a petition opposing this application as well as having submitted formal objections of their own and I urge the committee to pay due regard to these and reject the application.”

Despite this, at a planning committee meeting last week, councillors agreed to the application – subject to receiving amended plans to provide a roof to the waste storage area.

It was also stipulated that the applicant must change the opening hours to 7am to 10pm – the current proposal is to close at 11pm.

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The applicant must also submit a ‘communication strategy’ with local residents, including a point of contact if issues arise on site – ‘such as mitigation and ongoing issues of queued traffic with idling engines’.

A spokesperson for Worthing Borough Council added: “During the delegation period to discuss with the agent scope to have onsite management to avoid conflict with the use of jet wash and deliveries potentially blocking access to the food to go facility.”

MFG is the largest independent forecourt operator in the UK. Following recent acquisitions, the company now has around 918 stations operating under the BP, Shell, Esso, Texaco, JET and Murco fuel brands.

A spokesperson for the developer said: “At the end of February 2018, MFG announced the £1.2 billion acquisition of MRH, bringing nearly 500 stations and the Greggs, SPAR and its own Hursts brands into the network.

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"MFG intends to continue to offer its customers premium fuel brands coupled with an attractive, competitive and expanding forecourt shop offer for today’s cost-conscious consumers.

"The company’s key objective is to make all visits to a MFG forecourt as pleasurable as possible. They aim to provide our customers with high levels of service; good quality, competitively priced fuels and, of course, a convenient and competitive shopping experience.”

The develop said the sales building’s footprint will ‘remain as existing’ with an extension of 115 sqm to the rear ‘utilising the space currently occupied’ by the car wash and plant.

They added: “No changes are proposed to the rest of the site, including the forecourt, so the petrol filling station layout will remain as existing with access to and from the highway remaining as existing.

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"The proposed extension has been discreetly located of the rear of the sales building, adjacent to the adjoining car park, so has limited visibility from the street scene, replacing an existing car wash of a similar height.

"The new jet washes are located to the west of the site but will be largely screened from the north by a boundary wall and vegetation and have previously been approved in this location.

"A noise report has been submitted with the application which confirms the proposal is acceptable in noise terms.”

To view the full application, and the associated documents, visit and search for reference AWDM/1586/23.

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