Rushmoor Borough Council's development control committee approved the McDonald's application to take over the Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough Road on Wednesday (October 9)
Members of Rushmoor Borough Council's development control committee voted to approve McDonald's planning application to open at the Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough Road on Wednesday (October 9).
There have been plenty of comments to last night's news that Rushmoor Borough Council's development control committee has approved plans by McDonald's to turn the Tumbledown Dick pub into a restaurant and takeway.
The Farnborough Road pub, disused by 2008, is now set to be sold to the fast food giant after councillors voted through the plans at a packed meeting.
A full report of the meeting is now available on Get Hampshire to read and comment on, and includes more on the council debate. There are also a number of comments appearing on our Facebook page as residents react to the news.
A reminder of the news at the Rushmoor Borough Council offices this evening is that members of the development control committee have approved McDonald's application to move into the Tumbledown Dick public house in Farnborough Road which has been closed since 2008. The decision has prompted anger and disappointment amongst campaigners who have protested against the fast food giant's plans to acquire the site.
Councillors have also voted in favour of the signs that will adorn the new restaurant and takeaway.
Thank you for joining us tonight for our coverage of the council debate surrounding the Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough. Don't forget more reaction will be on Get Hampshire over the next few days as well as is next week's Farnborough News & Mail.
Outside one protester said: "We don't want McDonald's in the town centre. What they have done here stinks."
Others have said they're upset at the decision.
Still a large number of campaigners gathered outside the front of Rushmoor Borough Council's offices debating the decision. Protesters have highlighted the community spirit in fighting McDonald's application.
McDonald's application for the signs for the Tumbledown Dick site has also been approved.
Councillors are now discussing the signs required for the McDonald's restaurant at the Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough Road which has now been approved while a few members of the public stay in the committee room. Most have left as the meeting continues.
The application asks for six internally illuminated fascia signs, two internally illuminated sets of letters, one internally illuminated golden arch, one non illuminated pub sign, one internally illuminated gateway/height restriction sign, seven internally illuminated freestanding signs, 10 non illuminated information signs, one non illuminated directional sign and one internally illuminated freestanding totem sign which would be 6.5m tall.
Poor decision. 7 votes for, 3 against, how many abstentions?— Save The Tumbledown (@SaveTumbledown) October 9, 2013
Looks carried by clear majority. Boos from audience.— CountyCllr John Wall (@CllrJohnWall) October 9, 2013
The application is approved.
Seven councillors vote in favour of the proposal, to calls of "shame on you" while there's applause for the three who vote against.
Anger in the public gallery.
"Thanks for killing Farnborough. Beautiful town," says one.
"Shame on every one of you", calls out another.
"Let's make sure we never vote for you again," is another comment as campaigners leave the committee room
Keith Holland sums up and addresses councillors on a few issues starting with what they're being asked to consider.
"You need to determine a single, simple, planning application to use a former public house as a restaurant and takeaway," he tells councillors.
"It's the use of a takeaway and changes to the building and car park. Your decision is to determine if the proposed use is acceptable in planning terms.
"The building has been vacant for five years and needs to be reoccupied. Retaining and refurbishing the two-storey elements which are the most well known."
He says English Heritage and Department for Culture, Media and Sport could find no evidence for the building to be listed.
"The building does appear on the council's existing list of buildings with an asset of community value," he continues.
"The community right to bid would only come into effect if the building was put up for sale but it is not up for sale so the community right to bid cannot come into effect. McDonald's already have an agree to purchase.
"Moreover even if the current proposal were to fall away it does not follow the community right to bid would automatically arise. It would only arise if the owner decided to sell. The owner has indicated he has no indication to sell. The existing lease expires in 2022.
"Therefore in these circumstances is only limited weight can be given and it cannot be the determining factor.
"You will be aware there have been a large number of objections. It is right to take account of them. It is not the numbers which are significant. It is not a referendum but the factors we must pay more attention to.
"It would return a valuable building to an active use."
Cllr Lyon thanks officers for their report and rejects suggestions of bias. The vote is not too far away.
Cllr Roland Dibbs says in the 1970s it had an excellent restaurant and he used it regularly but not in latter years.
"I advised my son against using it because when I went by in the evenings there was normally a police van outside," he says.
"What we have to remember is we have the Princes Hall. We have got a West End Centre which has the same type of entertainment as mooted for the Tumbledown Dick.
"How anyone can think they can make this a viable place again with no subsidy I don't know. We've had no application apart from McDonald's. The only one we have is the one from McDonald's here tonight. The traffic issues I think have been well covered. McDonald's do have a reputation for clearing up rubbish.
"If I had a vote I would be voting in favour of this."
Transportation strategy officer Jim Pettitt says McDonald's are in favour of putting in a barrier along the centre of the road.
Keith Holland says he understands concerns over health matters.
"It must be noted the site falls within Farnborough town centre where there are a number of similar restaurants," he says.
Cllr Diane Bedford describes the application as "emotional".
"I was born in Cove and I remember the Tumbledown Dick when it was a fantastic venue way before the music. I only went in once in latter years but I know people who did and they loved it, including my niece. But she said it was very run down and nobody seemed to care for it."
She says when she heard about an initial plan to knock the building down she was very sad.
"The fact some of it will be saved is something. I'm not a McDonald's fan. Hundred are. I think it's very difficult to make a decision on this."
Cllr Bedford says she has concerns about the traffic but echoes Cllr Gratten's suggestion earlier for a barrier in the central reservation of Farnborough Road.
Cllr Frank Rust: "Obesity is a big subject and it's really important.
"I think great weight should be given actually (to health and wellbeing). It's so important. I'm not particularly against McDonald's per say, just general American junk food we don't need.
"We say, in England most people are overweight or obese," before explaining health and other problems associated with obesity.
"I know there's planning laws but somehow we as councillors have got to take responsibility for our future children. It's on that health aspect alone that I cannot support this application."
Cllr Parker: "I am in favour of McDonald's coming here and I think it will do Farnborough great."
Cllr Brian Parker says he was interested to hear Fran
He says: "What amazes me, looking around today at campaigners, five years ago, what ages were they? We have got to look at it from an aspect of what it is now and not what it was five years ago.
"Five years ago it was shut down because of a lack of use and the food was atrocious."
Audience laughter prompts another request for the public to allow councillors to speak.
Officer Jim Pettitt says the 34-space car park is appropriate and admits there will be more journeys. "At peak times, the prediction is around 80-90 vehicles an hour which is one or two a minute," he explains.
He says roundabouts are already near capacity but McDonald's have done analysis of their restaurants and says most are not making one-off trips and are already "on the network". The extra 80-90 vehicles an hour can be reduced because a lot of them will be travelling already and says the traffic impact will be "very minimal".
Cllr John Marsh says it is "quite frankly rubbish" that the Tumbledown Dick is historical centre of Farnborough— Aldershot News (@AldershotNews) October 9, 2013
Cllr Alan Chainey raises concerns over the 34-space car park.
"Traffic backs up past the petrol station. Adding a restaurant will cause more delays and traffic jams." Cue applause from protesters, who clap again when he says the restaurant at Farnborough Gate causes traffic chaos.
"We will just be moving the problem from one place to another."
A former patron of the pub, he says he was disappointed with its state when he last visited before it closed. He adds that the repair bill is "far greater" than local community groups can afford. He says if the building's owners cared about the Tumbledown Dick a small investment to make it reusable for the community could have been made.
"Turning it into a fast food restaurant will be totally inappropriate and I will not support the application," he concludes to rapturous applause from campaigners against McDonald's.
Health and wellbeing is not a planning matter, adds Cllr Marsh. "I have yet to see there is any alternative to this site," he said.
"I would like to see this building retained, certainly the facade and brought back into some sort of use. Don't want this building showing a very tatty side of Farnborough. The McDonald's application is worthy of support to bring the building back into use."
Cllr Clive Grattan raises concerns over a secondary exit from the car park.
Sarita Jones says Sainsbury's refused a pedestrian access from its car park into the rear of the Tumbledown Dick site, should McDonald's get planning permission.
Cllr John Marsh congratulates Rod Cooper on "going in to bat first" on this application. "One of the things I found in the many letters and emails against this application is the way the Tumbledown Dick is called the historic centre of Farnborough. Quite honestly I think that's rubbish."
He points at Farnborough Abbey, St Peter's Church and older buildings at the airport. "The only piece of this building which is of any age is possible 1860s." Protesters shout "1690", before being asked to keep quite by the chairman.
Cllr Marsh continues: "This building has been vacant since 2008. Nothing has been done by nearly anybody and I suspect the real problem is the objections is not so much against the use of the building but against McDonald's."
Cllr Rod Cooper: "One campaign lacks credibility and that's not McDonald's." A gasp from campaigners gathered in the committee room.
He also says he is not a fan of zero hour contracts and hopes McDonald's does not use them.
Councillors are now debating the application.
Rod Cooper says he finds both comments interesting and useful. "It is a great idea for a music venue in Farnborough." He says the campaigners have run a good campaign but asks why they weren't there in 2008.
"The building itself is in a very poor state of repair," he continues. "To leave this building as it is is not an option. Something has to be done. Looking at the plans on the table today, with the greatest respect to campaigners, there is only one credible plan on the table at this time."
Mike Williams, speaking in favour of the application, says the proposal will help bring life to a vacant building. "We have listened to the community and revised our plans," he says, before adding McDonald's has committed £5m.
"A new restaurant will benefit the community," he says. The restaurant will also create 65 jobs.
He admits McDonald's realises there are concerns around the impact of new restaurants and says the company works hard to keep the immediate surrounding area litter free.
Fran also reminds councillors that Farnborough is without an entertainment value. She asks: "Why are we forcing ourself to be the poor relation to Surrey towns?"
She also calls on councillors to not be scared to let this application go to appeal and says the community has funds pledged for the site.
Cheers and a big round of applause comes from the public gallery as she finishes her speech which urges councillors to refuse the application.
Sarita Jones says one of the themes which came through strongly in the objections was health and wellbeing but after taking legal advice, officers have decided it gives little weight to the argument against the proposal.
There have been no objections from Hampshire Police, and Sarita Jones concludes by saying the recommendation is to approve the proposal.
Councillor Lyon now reminds members of the public to ensure councillors can be heard.
The first public speaker is Fran Beauchamp who receives a round of applause from campaigners.
She starts by saying she speaks on behalf of the community and describes the report as one that's "cherry picked" planning legislation. Fran also goes on to say the proposal will worsen traffic on the A325 Farnborough Road which could cause "chaos".
Councillors are being shown photos and the proposed interior design. Sarita Jones describes the extensions to the pub as being completed in an "ad hoc manner".
The first site of a computer generated image of how the site would look should McDonald's take over is greeted with a few murmurs from the public.
Sarita Jones reminds councillors the Tumbledown Dick is on a list of buildings of local importance and that the application will guarantee its long-term survival. She adds: "The existing building makes very little contribution to the area." Officers have recommending restricting the restaurant's opening hours from 6am-midnight.
The meeting has started. Chairman of the meeting, Councillor Gareth Lyon has started by issuing apologies from councillors who can't attend tonight's meeting.
As expected, the Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough Road is the first item. Officer, Sarita Jones is taking councillors through the application from McDonald's. First, they are being shown an overhead photograph pinpointing the pub's location.
The application involves partial demolition of the public house and outbuildings, refurbishing the retained building, the erecting of single storey side and rear elements, resurfacing and redesigning the car park, canopies and landscaping. The car park will include a drive-through lane.
The room is getting quieter as the clock approaches 7pm. The Tumbledown Dick is the first item on tonight's agenda so it won't be long until the debate gets going.
One protester has made their opposition to McDonald's very noticeable this evening. It's now standing room only as the meeting time draws near.
As a reminder this is how the Tumbledown Dick currently looks.
The Tumbledown Dick has been closed since 2008. Earlier this week Get Hampshire put together a photo gallery showing the pub in a previous era as well as its state today and McDonald's vision for the future.
A number of councillors on the development control committee have already taken their seats ahead of the meeting at the Council Officers in Farnborough. As well as the councillors at least 40 members of the public have also arrived in readiness for the debate. Rushmoor Borough Council has received 590 objections to McDonald's plans and 37 comments in support.
Campaigners have just been chanting outside as they make their feelings known once more about the proposals.
This is the current scene inside the meeting room where the debate will start in a little over 10 minutes.
Rushmoor Borough Council's development control committee meeting begins at 7pm where councillors will decide on the future of the Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough Road. The pub has stood empty since 2008.
Members have been recommended to approve an application from McDonald's to convert the disused pub into a fast food restaurant. The plan, which first came to light in October 2012, has outraged some but does have some support.