Council ban on takeaways near schools in Milton Keynes is challenged in new McDonald’s / Costa plan

The McDonald's and Costa would be built on a Parks Trust car park
The McDonald's and Costa would be built on a Parks Trust car park

A council’s policy to stop new hot food takeaways near schools has been challenged in a plan for a new McDonald’s / Costa Coffee development in Milton Keynes.

A scheme to build a new McDonald’s restaurant and a Costa Coffee outlet on a Parks Trust car park near Stantonbury School was withdrawn after talks with MK Council planners.

The council officers said the proposals for the triangular 0.6 hectare plot on the corner of Monks Way and Breckland weren’t consistent with the council’s development policies.

But now the Parks Trust’s planning agent has come out all guns blazing, resubmitting the same plan for the same drive thru’ outlets and 73 car parking spaces, where they tackle criticisms head on.

London-based planning agent Rapleys, in its submission to the council argues that the council’s ban on hot food takeaways within 400m of schools should be relaxed in this case. The council’s policy is to try to deal with childhood obesity in the city.

Rapleys say: “The context of the site must be taken into account rather than simply relying on an arbitrary distance. 250m of straight, easy to navigate pedestrian walkway vastly differs from a winding walk along and then under a major road with limited lighting and natural surveillance, as is the case for the proposal site.”

The planning officers earlier this year said that acceptable uses for the site between Woodlands Business Park and Milton Keynes Business Centre were play areas; allotments; indoor and outdoor recreation facilities; arts and entertainment facilities; and tourist attractions and accommodation.

“Neither a drive through fast food restaurant nor a drive through café constitutes one of these uses,” they said.

But Rapleys hit back: “This designation seems unsuitable however, given that the site is clearly identifiable as a car park, with a large hard surface, clearly defined parking spaces and an entry barrier.”

It has been a commercial car park for 30 years but the Parks Trust is facing increasing costs from anti-social behaviour and unauthorised business use of the car park, they say.

The car park was intended to provide spaces for visitors to Linford Wood, and Rapleys say the proposals will reinstate that use.

“The proposals will include additional free parking, for 3 hours, above and beyond Costa Coffee’s and McDonald’s requirements,” they say.

The new development has been estimated to create 18 full/part time jobs at Costa and more than 65 at McDonald’s.

Details of the planning application and how to comment, are on Milton Keynes Council’s planning portal, here: