Plans for new drive-thru McDonalds on Plas Coch rejected by councillors
Plans to build a new drive thru McDonalds in Wrexham have been rejected amid concerns the development would worsen existing traffic issues in the area.
The proposals for the eastern corner of The Range / Argos car park had been recommended for approval by Lawrence Isted, Wrexham Council’s chief planning officer.
In his report Mr Isted described the proposed development as “acceptable in terms of scale and design” and that “the increased in traffic generation is not significant and is considered to be negligible in terms of its impact upon the existing highway network.”
However this was disputed at the afternoon’s planning meeting, with several committee members arguing that the development would cause “gridlock” and exacerbate congestion in the area.
There were also concerns about the loss of car parking space for those visiting The Range and Argos.
Cllrs REJECT the planned McDonalds drive thru – details on the debate that got to that point soon. https://t.co/QV4cxNAb9r
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) June 7, 2021
Grosvenor councillor Marc Jones said that whilst there is “no doubt” that there is demand for another McDonalds in Wrexham, he questioned whether this was a suitable location.
He said: “The main issue is traffic, congestion and the potential for gridlock.
“Plas Coch retail park has seen several incremental developments in recent years that increase traffic – an expanded supermarket, a new hotel, a drive-thru coffee shop – as well as a new housing development on Glyndwr University campus – recently reduced from 410 to 90 (due in part to the concerns about road capacity).
“In addition, Ysgol Plas Coch has expanded in recent years to 315 pupils and that also means increased traffic flows at certain times of the day. There is also a planning application for 450 new houses beyond the school.
“There is an acknowledgement in the Highways assessment that the B&Q roundabout is already approaching capacity at peak times and that it would be over-capacity by 2036 – that means we face gridlock on the main entrance to the largest town in north Wales in only 14 years away and the highways consultant seems to be saying that this is acceptable.
“The Highways report admits that “The existing road network leading to and serving the retail park suffers from capacity issues during weekday peak times and at the weekend when significant queuing / delays are experienced. The existing A483 / A541 junction, Plas Coch roundabout(s) and New Road / Stansty Road junction suffer from capacity issues and would not benefit from any significant increase in vehicle movements.”
“The highways report also admits that it has not factored in the extra homes granted planning permission on Plas Coch Road into additional traffic flow until 2036. But those houses are likely to be built in the next few years meaning the 2036 over-capacity problem could be with us much earlier.”
Phillip Isherwood, senior acquisition surveyor responsible for purchasing new site, said the new development would prevent a “16 mile round trip” that some within Wrexham currently make to the Chirk drive thru and that 65 new jobs would be created.
He said: “The highway offices have confirmed the level of parking provision for the proposed restaurant and existing retail units is acceptable to serve the users of the site and that safe vehicular and pedestrian access has been secured.
“The increase in traffic generation is not significant and is considered to be negligible in terms of impact upon the existing network.
“The approval of this application will also see the implementation of a pedestrian crossing, ensuring that all pedestrians using all of the operators will know retail park will have a safe place to cross.”
But Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers said “the addition of a drive through McDonald’s is only going to create matters worse for local residents.
He added: “As the economy has started to unlock in recent weeks it’s already visible that the Plas Coch roundabout is extremely busy at peak times.
The residents of New Broughton and the Caego area already have problems at peak times in crossing to the other side of town, particularly the Mold Road.
“I think many many residents are already frustrated by the problems with all the traffic around Plas Coch school at peak times.
“I can’t understand the why the highways officer hasn’t made greater recommendations against it quite frankly, because many residents in this area are literally up to here with the problems that are faced on a daily basis.”
This was echoed by Gwersyllt West councillor Gwenfair Jones, who said: “The residents of my ward very often get gridlocked on the way into town, along Summerhill Road and the main road into town and they’re very often stuck in traffic.
“Also as the governor of the children of Plas Coch school I know that we have concerns on behalf of the parents, they’ve even asked the children what they think.
“I know it’s their decision whether they go there or not, but it’s not going to help their health. We as a council have got some guidance regarding having fast food restaurants within 400 metres of a school.”
However planning officer David Williams said the evidence being provided in terms of traffic generation suggests “it’s not significant and is considered to be negligible in terms of its impact on this on the existing highway network.”
He said: “The revised traffic assessment has taken into account all the committed developments within the vicinity of the site and the modelling was unaffected by the pandemic, which has been obviously an issue recently in terms of data collection to justify and to look at these sort of issues. This data was collected outside this period.
“So it’s a true reflection of the traffic flow and the capacity of the network and is reasonable to assume that the information and the modelling is a correct representation of what is is likely to occur.
“Whilst there’s been concerns in relation to the increased queuing, the evidence again will indicate the proposed restaurant will have a negligible impact upon the roundabout.
“Yes, there’s congestion at key times, but there’s congestion in all parts of all towns at certain times of the day.
It was also acknowledged that B&Q roundabout is already close to capacity at peak periods, adding “I stand by what’s in the report, I think that would deter customers from driving to the facility of the restaurant at that particular time”
“It becomes self regulating to a certain a certain extent.”
One application is for a 'totem pole' signage, so that could exist in a solitary burger beacon in the middle of an empty car park🤷♂️
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) June 7, 2021
With regards to car parking, Mr Williams said: “The highways authority have confirmed that the level of parking provision for the proposed restaurants and existing retail units is acceptable and that a safe vehicle and pedestrian access has been secured”
“The amended plans show a reduction in the public floor area of the restaurants, which means that the 29 spaces provided accords for the maximum provision” as per guidence.
“Whilst there is a reduction in the number of existing spaces, serving the retail units, the car parking surveys that were undertaken demonstrated that there is spare capacity at peak times and that there is space within the surrounding retail park, which has the capacity to absorb the additional vehicles are busy times during the day.”
Penycae councillor, John Phillips, proposed that the application is refused stating it will “almost certainly” add to congestion in the area.
He said: “I’m not against drive thrus as long as it’s in the right location.
“In my opinion, the location would immensely benefit the applicants as it’s very busy, but the loss of the existing car parking spaces which serve the existing retail developments is totally unacceptable.”
“If this application is successful, it will almost certainly add to the congestion and potentially impact on highway safety.”
“With that mind I will not be supporting this application and I propose we refuse officers recommendation on the grounds of loss of existing car park spaces, increased traffic congestion and highway safety.”
The application was refused with a majority of councillors voting against the plans – and then refusing several connected application for signage on the site.
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