McDonald's drive-thru in Bedford approved - despite concerns over traffic and environmental impact

The new drive-thru will be located to the south of the junction at Paula Radcliffe Way

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 5:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 5:12 pm

A new McDonald's drive-thru has been approved - despite concerns it would increase local traffic, carbon emissions and harmful air pollution - something the council is meant to be working to address.

Councillor Lucy Bywater (Green, Castle Ward) was speaking as an objector to the planning application for the new McDonald’s drive-thru to the south of the junction at Paula Radcliffe Way, to the east of Fairhill, and to the south of Brew Point Microbrewery at yesterday’s Bedford Borough Council’s Planning Committee (October 18).

The joint Bedford Borough Council and McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd application was seeking full planning permission for the erection of a McDonald's drive-thru, with associated works.

Plans for the new drive-thru were approved

“The development would increase local vehicle movements at all times of day and night,” councillor Bywater said. “And increase vehicle idling for vehicles queuing at busy times, as we have seen at other drive-throughs across the borough.

“This increase would result in increased carbon emissions and a worsening of harmful air pollution, two things this council is supposed to be working to address.”

Councillor Bywater added that other objectors had expressed concerns about traffic congestion that already exists at this “busy junction”. She also pointed out that the officer’s report acknowledged that the Clapham roundabout is “notoriously congested at peak travel times”.

The report also said that around half of the visitors to the drive-thru will be people who are already on the highway network.

“So that leaves half making a special trip by car”, councillor Bywater said.

Mr Graham Parks, from Cerda Planning, the agents for the application, said: “The transportation team has carried out extensive work to ensure that the layout design is acceptable in terms of parking provision and drive you queuing capacity.

“The transport assessment has been provided to demonstrate that the proposed traffic generation can be accommodated on the road network without any significant impact.”

The meeting was told that the peak hours number for Friday mornings is 81 and on a Friday evening it is 126.

Councillor Sue Oliver (Labour, Kempston North Ward) said, “Unfortunately, as yet, climate change considerations don't really equate into planning reasons for refusal.

"What can you say to reassure councillor Bywater, and others like her, as to why we should allow lots of people to get into their cars and come onto your new site?” she asked.

Mr Parks said, “This has been considered as a drive-thru location and in terms of the policy situation, that’s been considered as appropriate.

“In terms of traffic generation and environmental impacts have already been addressed by the submission we’ve made and the discussions we’ve had with officers.”

Councillor Martin Towler (Conservative, Riseley Ward) commented, “Anybody going to McDonald's from the west side of Bedford has to travel right through the middle of Bedford.

“So actually, we might be saving a lot of movement by having one on the [west] side”.

The committee voted to approve the application.