At a meeting of Epsom and Ewell Council’s planning committee, councillors voted 10-2 to reject an application to turn the Organ and Dragon, which was a pub and Thai restaurant in London Road, Ewell, into a KFC fast food restaurant and takeaway.
The majority said development on the site, at the junction of London Road and the Ewell By-Pass, would have "an adverse impact on the highway’s safety", particularly because KFC had said 60 per cent of its business would be generated in takeaway sales and the junction is a notoriously busy one for traffic.
The councillors rejected a report by Surrey County Council (SCC), the highways authority, which said KFC would cause negligible road safety problems and the advice of officers at Epsom Council who recommended they approve the proposal.
The SCC report said it would create few additional movements on the road as most takeaway customers "would already be on the road network and would divert to the KFC" and that a KFC would have "less than one per cent impact" on the total traffic through the junction.
The report also said the 35 parking spaces to be provided would be enough, that there were no objections on environmental health grounds, and that the pub had been "extensively altered over the years and is of no significant architectural merit".
The main areas of objection raised by the development - which generated just seven letters in support compared with 381 letters and a 1,000 signature petition against it - were traffic congestion, overspill of traffic into residential roads, highway safety, location and conservation, noise, disturbance, anti-social behaviour, litter, health issues and loss of community facility.
Councillor John Beckett said: "This junction is busy. When school kids are off there’s a one per cent difference in the traffic and that’s huge because the junction becomes clearer. KFC wants to add one per cent of traffic which is a recipe for disaster."
Councillor Sheila Carlson said while a petition had been produced and letters of objection written, that "doesn’t mean there are planning grounds to turn something down".
She added: "To say this is a building of no significant architectural merit is wiping away a building that has been there for a very long time and not doing it justice."
Councillor Jan Mason said: "There will be continual movement. London Road is a main route in Surrey and I consider their feeling that it won’t make too much of a difference defies belief."
Councillor Colin Taylor said there was "no evidence whatsoever" of Surrey Highways’ claim that the customers attracted to a KFC would be those already on the road.
He said: "They are not saying they know there will be no traffic from people coming in especially."
But Councilllor Robert Foote added: "There’s a problem that it may cause additional traffic or gridlock, but this building looks terrible and if it’s allowed to deteriorate and KFC doesn’t develop it will become high density housing which will bring its own set of problems."
Members of the campaign which led the petition against the KFC cheered from the public gallery after the vote took place.
Speaking afterwards, Elaine Jury, who led the petition, said: "We’re really pleased with the decision. They may well appeal now, but at least this is a first step."
Article from Hardeep Matharu at epsomguardian
Member since: 10th July 2012
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