The council's development control committee voted seven votes to three in favour of allowing the vacant pub to be turned into a fast food restaurant and drive-through
Protesters filled almost every seat in the house as the decision was made to allow McDonald's to replace a historic Farnborough pub with a drive-through restaurant.
A long discussion between councillors on the pros and cons of the plans for the Tumbledown Dick, in Farnborough Road, took place at Rushmoor Borough Council's development control committee meeting on Wednesday night (October 9) before the plans were approved by seven votes to three.
Chairman of campaign group Friends of the Tumbledown Dick, Fran Beauchamp, received loud applause as she took to the speaker's stand to deliver a passionate defence of the pub. She urged councillors to ignore the recommendation to approve the proposal, arguing it would cause traffic 'chaos' and make Farnborough a 'poor relation' to surrounding Surrey towns.
She started the group, which boasts more than 3,000 followers, about a year ago following the revelation that McDonald's was interested in the site. Campaigners hoped to return it to a successful live music venue.
The Tumbledown Dick, which closed in 2008 after failing a health inspection, is said to date back to the 1600s and has hosted music acts such as Reuben, Hundred Reasons and The Jam.
Mike Williams, head of acquisitions for McDonald's, spoke in favour of the application, but was jeered as he said the fast food restaurant would benefit the area.
Councillors took the opportunity to voice their opinion on the scheme, and received mixed reactions from those gathered in the chamber.
Cllr Rod Cooper offered thoughts for and against, stating that he favoured the idea of a music venue over a fast food restaurant but that he felt the McDonald's proposal would at least 'bring life' to the vacant building. He said it was the only realistic proposal on the table.
"To leave the building as it is not an option," he said. "With the greatest respect to the Friends group, there is one campaign that lacks credibility, and it's not McDonald's."
Cllr Frank Rust said he was voting against the plans as he felt it would contribute to the high obesity rate in Rushmoor.
The council's head of planning, Keith Holland, concluded the debate by reminding panel members that the application could only be judged on how it adhered with planning policies and not on how popular the use of the building would be.
Protesters continued to voice their disapproval as they left the meeting, with some describing the decision as 'a sad day for Farnborough'.
See next week's Farnborough News & Mail, out on Thursday October 17, for more coverage.