Go-ahead for McDonald’s to expand

McDonalds in Blyth.
McDonalds in Blyth.
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a fast-food restaurant has been given the go-ahead to expand despite opposition from neighbours.

County councillors have approved applications for an extension and new signs and lighting at McDonald’s in Blyth.

However, parts of the application were turned down and conditions were imposed to reduce the amount of light pollution produced by the Cowpen Road burger bar.

Members of Northumberland County Council’s south east area planning committee also refused to grant permission for a totem advertising sign despite planning officers recommending it for approval.

At the beginning of this month, county council officers halted work on the restaurant’s extension after it was started without consent.

Planning officer Malcolm Thompson told last week’s meeting, held at Choppington, that the company claimed to have been under the impression that approval had already been granted.

That claim was described as ludicrous by objector David Roe, a neighbour of the restaurant.

“The history of the site shows that any conditions applied are totally ignored,” he told councillors.

He added that the removal of screening bushes without approval showed “a serious lack of environmental concern and, quite frankly, honesty”.

Mr Roe told the meeting the building was brightly lit 365 days a year, even though it closed on Christmas Day.

The restaurant opens from 5am to 11pm Monday to Thursday and until midnight on Fridays and weekends.

Mr Roe said: “There are many complaints of noise and obscene behaviour on the site.”

It was also felt by objectors that a new play area planned for outside the restaurant would increase the amount of noise generated.

“There’s a problem already with teenagers and even adults playing on the site,” added Mr Roe.

“A member of staff usually tells the offender that a complaint has been made, often with a nod in the direction of the property. This often results in retaliatory vandalism.”

An environmental health officer told councillors that in the past the department had received only two complaints about the site, however.

Barrie Crowther, county councillor for Cramlington Eastfield, asked why officers did not measure the light pollution produced scientifically.

Of the three planning applications submitted by McDonald’s, two were approved with extra conditions to limit light emanating from inside the building and from illuminated signs and the third, for the erection of a totem advert, was rejected.

Mr Thompson said the company had stated there was no intention of opening around the clock, a question raised because drawings submitted showed signs advertising 24-hour opening.