Council planners have turned down KFC’s idea to build a new drive-thru restaurant in Swinton town centre.
The fast-food giant said new premises on Swinton Hall Road would cost around £1.8 million to build and bring 18 full-time and 32 part-time jobs to the local area.
It laid out the plans in a public consultation in November last year, saying it had overwhelming public support to demolish two vacant retail units and build the drive-thru.
The site is a demolished former Employment Exchange now used as car parking.
But council planners found tricky road and pedestrian layout, lack of clarity over deliveries and a need to cut down five trees on site were reason enough to turn down the plans.
Four weeping willows and one alder tree fronting Station Road are “of high amenity value”, subject to a tree preservation order and do not need to be culled to make way for the drive-thru, said council consultants.
Officers found the scheme “could add to the draw of the centre, thereby benefiting the centre in terms of its vitality and viability.
But the fact that the building would be windowless, and 14 metres in front of the established line of buildings on Station Road would hem pedestrians in to a narrow pavement “particularly in periods of increased traffic would create an objectionable environment for any pedestrians walking to Swinton town centre or train station.”
“Notwithstanding the benefits of the scheme, it is considered that substantial harm would arise to the quality and character of the centre.”
Revised plans had rejigged the 26-space car parking plan and removed outside seating after fears it would bring more anti-social behaviour to the area.
Opening times would have been 7am-midnight Friday and Saturday, and 7am-11.30pm the rest of the week.
Entrance and exit would have been from the internal Chadwick Street off Swinton Hall Road, rather than the busier and more clogged Station Road.
Still, there would have been an extra 54 trips by car over the course of the busiest hour (4pm-5pm), KFC found.
In a statement handed to SalfordOnline.com via KFC, Dave Simister, Centre Manager at Swinton Square Shopping Centre expressed strong disapproval for the decision to refuse the plans.
The shopping centre manager said the new restaurant would have been something very positive for the local business offering, driving more footfall to Swinton Square and that he could not understand the council’s reasoning.
“The traders have been telling me that they want KFC to come to Swinton since hearing about the plans.
“It’s refreshing to hear that they welcome competition and see KFC as a draw, meaning more shoppers spending more money in the Centre.
“A KFC would have fitted in well, providing a place where the Swinton community could have come to relax, eat and socialise. I am disappointed by the council’s decision.”
A decision notice from the council explains: “The proposal would not improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area nor does it comply with the development plan and therefore does not comprise sustainable development.
“There were no amendments to the scheme, or conditions which could reasonably have been imposed, which could
have made the development acceptable and it was therefore not possible to approve the application.”
Stephen McDonald, Senior Acquisitions Manager at KFC (GB) Ltd, said: “We are very disappointed with Salford City Council’s decision to refuse our planning application, particularly as elected members on the planning committee weren’t given the opportunity to discuss the plans in a public forum and to listen to what supporters had to say.
“Many local people have told us that they think the restaurant is a great idea, complementing the existing shops, increasing footfall to the centre and creating around 50 new jobs for local people.
“We take consultation very seriously and we have consulted high and wide on this application, significantly over and above Salford City Council’s requirements.
“This is reflected in the alterations we made to the plans to mirror the feedback we had, both positive and negative.
“We will now consider our next steps and will keep members of the local community updated in due course.”