Planners for a fast food outlet face a battle to convince council officials that an Aldershot industrial estate is a suitable place for a new drive-through and restaurant.
At a public information evening last Wednesday, to which residents and other interested parties were invited to hear more about the plans, representatives from KFC outlined the obstacles that must be overcome before an application can be submitted for the site in North Close, off North Lane.
They also stressed the scale of investment the company was willing to make in Aldershot, and 50 new jobs, would be a positive addition to the town.
The clash with Rushmoor Borough Council is over the authority’s designation, through the Rushmoor Local Plan, of the estate as an important area for industrial use and a key employment site. The current building, home to Northgate Van Hire, which is relocating to Camberley this spring, would be demolished and replaced by the drive-through, which would also contain an eat-in seating area.
KFC management is hopeful that, if and when an application is submitted, the council can be persuaded to overlook this criteria, arguing that the 50 jobs created would be a vast improvement on the small number of jobs currently based at the site.
Keith Holland, the council’s head of planning, said this task was "not impossible" but the onus was on KFC to produce a compelling argument.
“If we were to move away from that use, they would need to give us a very good reason why,” he said.
“Designations are very important when we come to consider planning applications.
“Other things we would need to look at are car parking and access, the fact there is some residential use next door and how their amenity would be affected.”
The consultation event is not common KFC policy, and was held in an attempt to address concerns surrounding the site, as well as promote the training and career development opportunities offered to employees that has earned it a place on the list of Britain’s Top Employers, compiled by the CRF Institute, for the last two years.
Around 20 people attended and senior property acquisition manager Phil Speechley said "75% had positive things to say".
“When I have done these before, the people who come tend to be the ones that are against the idea but people have been very pleased with the employment we would bring in,” he said.
“And these aren’t minimum wage jobs.
“If you want a career you can do that here.
“People here sometimes ask ‘why does Farnborough get all the investment?’, but this is bringing investment and facilities to Aldershot.”
He added: “It was pleasing to hear so much support for the new development and employment opportunities that we plan to bring to Aldershot, and I’m glad that we were able to respond to a few concerns as well.”
Less positive comments revolved around issues such as additional traffic and litter.
The company has pledged to offer financial support to add bins in the area, and believes the additional access road from the eastbound Ash Road means the North Close entrance would experience a minor increase in traffic.
An illuminated advertising board would be placed at the Ash Road entrance, with a smaller unlit sign potentially placed at the North Close entrance.
KFC already has a restaurant in Union Street and this will remain open if the drive-through is approved.
A formal application from KFC is expected next month.