Plans for new Billingshurst McDonald's hanging in the balance

Plans by fast food chain McDonald’s to open a new restaurant and drive-thru in Billingshurst are hanging in the balance.

Horsham District Council is to decide next week on whether or not to grant planning permission for the 100-seater restaurant at Billingshurst business park off Stane Street.

If it goes ahead the new McDonald’s plans to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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But planning officers are recommending that the proposals – which include a children’s play area, patio area and car park – should be turned down.

How the new Billingshurst McDonald's could look if planning permission is granted by Horsham District Council

McDonald’s says that if it goes ahead it will offer more than 65 new jobs and help boost the local economy.

And it has addressed already-voiced public concerns over litter by saying it will provide recycling facilities and have regular daily litter picks.

In a public consultation document over its plans McDonalds said: “We think this is an exciting opportunity to bring new local jobs and investment to Billingshurst, and to support the village through our grassroot initiatives.”

However, planning officers say the council has received 303 letters of objection to the proposals and 124 letters of support.

Billingshurst Parish Council says that it ‘strongly objects’ and that the new McDonald’s would be out of keeping with the Neighbourhood Plan.

It says it would frustrate efforts to promote units on the trade park for local businesses and it is concerned there could be traffic build-ups on the A29.

Other concerns raised by residents include light pollution, cooking odours from the 24-hour operation and the possibility of antisocial behaviour by teenagers hanging out at the venue.

Planning officers, recommending that Horsham District Council should turn down the application, say that McDonald’s has provided insufficient information on water neutrality to show that it would not adversely affect the internationally designated Arun Valley Special Area of Conservation.

And it says that a lack of landscaping would harm the setting and character of the edge-of-village location.

It also says that the development would mean a loss of employment floorspace on the business park site.

The planning application will be decided by councillors at a meeting on May 24.