Work on McDonalds and Starbucks site 'breaks rules', councillors claim
- Credit: Katya Parker
Town councillors claimed work on site for a new McDonalds and Starbucks restaurant in their town is in breach of existing planning conditions.
Downham Market town councillors discussed an application to discharge one of the conditions of planning permission for the development on Bexwell Road at a full council meeting on Tuesday, March 2.
The plan to build the two restaurants on the edge of Downham Market was approved by West Norfolk Council last June.
But town councillors objected to recent activity on the site which they said is in breach of conditions.
Mayor Becky Hayes told the council that condition 19 of the planning application says that "no fixed plant and machinery" should come into operation until details are submitted and approved in writing by the local planning authority.
She also said the noise levels on site should not exceed 50 decibels between 7am and 11pm and 39 decibels at all other times.
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The mayor said she tried to contact the planners for more information about it but was concerned if they were to be discharged from the condition.
Charlie Pyatt said works outside "must be done" on the highways before vehicles are allowed on site.
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He added: "Yet they're working on there at the moment and pulling trees down.
"They're breaking the rules already. I know the enforcement officer is aware of it.
"The way they are pulling those trees down is a disgrace but the conditions are written down here and they've broken that already."
He said they "must now be stopped" until they meet the conditions.
Deputy mayor Jenny Groom said: "It's a big company and they're trying to get away with things they shouldn't be getting away with, and I think we need to be extremely vigilant and not let them get away with anything.
"There are quite clear conditions there and they are not abiding by them.
"They're taking significant advantage."
Rachel Hepworth said: "I don't see why they should be relived of complying with the planning condition which appears to be designed to control the noise levels which is a nuisance to local residents.
"I think a lot of people didn't appreciate what this development would involve. People are apparently shocked by the impeding destruction of the trees and we can't possibly let them get away with pushing the boundaries.
"There is already a lot of environmental destruction involved in the development and we can't allow it to get worse."
The deputy mayor said that part of Bexwell Road is a gateway into the town.
She added: "Our gateway is being destroyed and I think the borough need to be aware of that, otherwise the entrance into town is going to become very unwelcoming."
Alan Pickering added: "These people are treating it as if it was a gateway to McDonalds rather than Downham Market and that's just not acceptable."
Frank Daymond questioned why trees opposite the development were covered in netting and town clerk Elaine Oliver said it was to prevent birds nesting in them as they are due to be pulled down.
Ms Hayes added that she was contacted by police on Saturday evening in regard to the netting, telling the council it had been removed without permission and is something the police are looking into.
Mr Daymond also raised concern about the lighting on site, saying he thought it was "dangerous" for drivers approaching Bexwell roundabout.
Ms Hayes proposed that the council do not agree to allow planners to discharge from the condition and raise separate issues with them about the way the development is taking place - councillors voted unanimously in support of it.
Later in the meeting, councillors also discussed phasing out Covid rangers on the market and replacing them with its own staff, who, the mayor said, have "successfully completed their Covid ranger training."
Councillors voted in favour of a proposal to phase the current rangers out over a two to three week period.