New McDonald's restaurant and drive-thru in Billingshurst refused permission

Plans from fast food chain McDonald’s to open a new restaurant and drive-thru in Billingshurst have been refused.

The application for a 100-seater restaurant at the business park, off Stane Street, was given a unanimous thumbs-down by Horsham District Council’s planning committee south on Tuesday (May 24).

The council received more than 300 objections to the plans.

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Traffic congestion and the fact the business park had been developed to offer employment floorspace for light industrial use were high on the list of concerns.

Artist's impression of the McDonald's proposed for Billingshurst

The latter point was raised by Chris Brown (Con, Billingshurst).

He said: “We were promised an enterprise park of light industrial units for local employment and what we’ve got so far is a retail park.”

While McDonald’s said the restaurant would create more than 60 jobs, Mr Brown added: “What I’m interested in as ward member is employment space for our local businesses.

“We’ve got several small businesses that want to relocate into light industrial units and they can’t find them.

“That’s what we need for our area.

“I’d rather see 20-40 high-skilled career entrepreneurial type jobs than 60 minimum wage menial jobs.”

Several councillors shared concerns about traffic congestion caused by queuing at other McDonald’s drive-thru restaurants – especially Buck Barn, Burgess Hill and Shoreham.

But as West Sussex County Council’s highways team had offered no objection to the application – much to the surprise of some – these concerns were not added to the reasons for refusal.

Instead, the plans were turned down because of the loss of employment floorspace, water neutrality issues, and the ‘adverse harm’ the restaurant would cause to ‘the setting and character of the edge of village location’.

Mr Brown told the meeting that the restaurant would be ‘a dominating factor close to the road as you approach the village’.

He added: “If you look at the objections from many of our residents, it’s about the light pollution, having the golden arches 24/7 blazing in the countryside.”

A hybrid application for the business park and roundabout, with some elements granted outline permission and others receiving full permission, was approved by HDC in June 2019.

To view the application, visit www.horsham.gov.uk/planning and search for DC/21/2206.