A new drive-thru McDonald’s in Bradley Stoke has been granted a 24/7 food licence despite objections from dozens of neighbours.
Residents and councillors fear the restaurant at Willow Brook shopping centre will cause “untold misery” for people living nearby. But South Gloucestershire Council’s licensing sub-committee has approved the fast-food giant’s application to serve hot food and hot drinks around the clock.
The decision was made after members heard none of the authorities, including the police, environmental health and trading standards, had any concerns.
Some of the 37 residents who lodged objections made impassioned pleas to the panel during an at-times fractious hearing at Kingswood civic centre today (September 6).
Bradley Stoke South ward Conservative Cllr Roger Avenin told the meeting: “The area is primarily residential with a few shops. It’s not a commercial park.
“This will severely impact residents. No wonder residents are up in arms.
“The police have been called to Willow Brook because of undesirable characters late at night. We have boy racers with souped-up cars and sawn-off exhausts chasing around the roads of Bradley Stoke.
“This application will undoubtedly impose untold misery on a large number of residents whose houses are close to these establishments, so close that they impinge on the nature reserve.”
Karen Pullen, who has lived next to the site for 21 years, said: “Granting a 24-hour licence will give McDonald’s carte blanche to disrupt the lives of local people on a 24/7 basis. There will be no respite at all.”
She said 24/7 hours would create a public nuisance and a “clear risk to public safety”.
Bradley Stoke town councillor and mum-of-five Angela Morey told members: “This will be the first 24-hour, seven days a week McDonald’s in South Gloucestershire so we are being used as a trial run.
“This could open the door to a lot of other licences going 24 hours, 365 days a year.
“Overnight we are looking at hundreds if not thousands of extra vehicles being trafficked into our very quiet area every night, potentially causing accidents.
“McDonald’s business model is based on shouting your order out of your window constantly. That is next to people’s homes.”
She told the panel: “I ask you not to let the avalanche arrive in our quiet sleepy town.”
Councillors heard Tesco had been open 24 hours a day when planning permission was originally sought for the McDonald’s and 24-hour Starbucks next to it but that this was no longer the case so the circumstances were now different.
McDonald’s barrister Leo Charalambides said the authorities had endorsed the application to sell late-night refreshment from 11pm to 5am, which are the hours that require a licence for hot food and drink.
He said they were the experts and the panel was legally bound to give their views “careful consideration”.
“This is not a re-run of planning,” Mr Charalambides told the sub-committee.
“You as a council have already decided to allow the running of a 24-hour food operation and that this is a good, suitable location.
“This is a busy retail area, not a residential area.”
He said McDonald’s could not be held responsible for antisocial behaviour away from the premises and that the car park had speed bumps, so there would be no boy-racers on site.
The barrister said the company would regularly clear up litter from the surrounding area and that the microphone system for drivers to order food did not require raised voices.
Sub-committee member Cllr Colin Hunt and Mr Charalambides clashed several times during the hearing.
The councillor accused the lawyer of trying to claim the local authority ’s environmental health and trading standards officers were the experts they should trust while at the same time branding the organisation “useless” for initially failing to advertise the licensing notice properly.
Mr Charalambides said the council’s administrative processes “failure” was irrelevant and had nothing to do with the professionalism of the regulatory services teams.
At another point, the barrister accused panel members of having “predetermined” the decision by suggesting it was not a good location for a 24/7 McDonald’s, which they denied.
He said the sub-committee had no evidence to refuse the application other than “a lot of passion and unsubstantiated fears” from residents.
The outlet is set to open on September 14 and is employing 130 people.
South Gloucestershire Council originally refused planning permission in 2019 but this was overturned by a government inspector on appeal the following year.