28/02/2011

Drive-Through KFC Refusal Overturned

Residents of Ballyhackamore in east Belfast have been voicing their anger over a plan by fast food firm, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) to build a drive-through restaurant on the corner of Knockhill Park and the Upper Newtownards Road.

However, their worries are being sidelined as it has now emerged that the Planning Appeals Commissioner has just overturned a Planning Service decision - supported by Belfast City Council - to refuse permission for the "inappropriate application".

The Planning Service received over 80 objections to the plans including concerns raised by local school Bloomfield Collegiate and the Environmental Health Department of Belfast City Council.

Local Alliance MP for the area Naomi Long originally described the KFC plans as "unacceptable" and the DUP's Robin Newton - another MLA - has indicated that if the plans were given permission there would be a "negative impact" on family homes in the area.

Residents believe there would be a danger of traffic congestion backing out into a residential street or onto the main Upper Newtownards Road and protestors argue that such a danger should not be permitted on the doorstep of a school.

Now, both the Alliance East Belfast MP Naomi Long and her party colleague, MLA Chris Lyttle have expressed their anger at the latest news that the Planning Appeals Commission has overturned a Belfast City Council Town Planning Committee and Department of the Environment Planning Service decision to refuse planning permission for the KFC drive-through.

They insisted that the location is in a predominantly residential neighbourhood.
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The site is located between Ballyhackamore and Knock and comprises 327-329 Upper Newtownards Road and 1 Knockhill Park, with Naomi Long MP commenting: "I have represented residents concerns at every stage of this process and am bitterly disappointed that the Planning Appeals Commissioner has saw fit to overturn a Planning Service decision, supported by Belfast City Council, to refuse what is a completely inappropriate application.

"There is united and widespread opposition to the opening of a drive-through restaurant on this site.

"Such development may be appropriate in a retail park or a motorway services, but it is not appropriate at the corner of a residential street, immediately beside a school.

"I have real concerns for the implications this decision will have on other similar applications in residential neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland," she fumed.

Chris Lyttle MLA said: "I now have real concerns with regard to the fairness of the planning appeals process and share the intense frustration of local residents at the outcome of this appeal.

"People are rightly concerned that this development has the potential to lead to an increase in noise, litter, disturbance, and a loss of residential amenity, not least given the drive-through element of the proposal.

"We are also concerned that the entrance and exit which open right at the traffic lights which serve the neighbouring school will compromise road safety.

"This is a completely inappropriate form of development for this location and I am utterly dismayed that anyone with a responsibility for planning would think otherwise."

(BMcC/GK)

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