Fast-food giant McDonald’s wants to build a drive-thru restaurant on the outskirts of Alnwick, creating 65 jobs in the process.
The global corporation has lodged a full application with Northumberland County Council for a site which already has outline planning permission at Cawledge, between the A1 and the Alnwick Services petrol station.
The proposed restaurant would be accessed via the road into the filling station and have a drive-thru lane as well as 42 parking spaces.
The interior would have space for 96 customers and the company wants it to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It would also provide ‘a minimum of 65 additional jobs for the community’, both full and part-time roles. Excluding the management team, ‘almost all of these’ would be recruited from the local area.
In January, the Gazette reported that while there were no confirmed plans, McDonald’s did have its eye on a restaurant in Alnwick, sparking plenty of debate on our social-media sites.
A poll on our website showed a narrow majority in favour of the food firm coming to the town.
More than 6,000 people lodged their votes with 54 per cent in support of McDonald’s opening a restaurant and 46 per cent against.
Those in favour tended either to point to the jobs it would create or felt Alnwick needed to move with the times. The impact on the town centre and litter were cited by critics as major downsides.
However, a McDonald’s spokesman assured the Gazette that one of the firm’s main priorities is ‘being a good neighbour and we are committed to playing our part in tackling litter’.
Earlier this year, the site at Cawledge was believed to be the most attractive due to the extant outline permission for a drive-thru restaurant.
The combined application for that outline proposal and the town’s second petrol station was approved in November 2010 with the detailed plans for the restaurant needing to be submitted within five years.
It’s not the first time that McDonald’s has been on the menu in Alnwick though, with the town coming very close to getting a restaurant more than a decade ago.
In early 2001, the corporation received planners’ approval from Alnwick District Council for its initial application for a restaurant at the Willowburn site, alongside the then under-construction sports centre.
In September that year, McDonald’s announced that problems with access meant work was unlikely to begin before the following year, a delay which prompted some people to query whether the chain would ever come to Alnwick.
And despite a new application, for a 60-seat restaurant with a drive-thru facility, in July 2002, a McDonald’s in the town has remained elusive until now.
Public consultation on the new plans runs until Saturday, September 20.