McDonald's bid for Tumbledown is imminentBy Tim Harris
February 19, 2013
A CONTROVERSIAL application to turn an historic Farnborough pub into a McDonald’s restaurant is expected within two months.
It emerged late last year the Tumbledown Dick, in Farnborough Road, was linked with a sale to the international fast food chain.
McDonald’s has revealed a planning application for the outlet at the Tumbledown site will be submitted in April.
A campaign has been running since October to save the pub, affectionately known as the ‘Tumbly’, and group the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick was formed.
The group branded the McDonald’s plan ‘completely unacceptable’. The Friends found discussions to turn the pub into a McDonald’s had been in motion for months, after a Freedom of Information request to Rushmoor Borough Council uncovered plans for the restaurant, dating back to April.
The council described the documents as ‘pre-application discussions’. McDonald’s, which had admitted an interest in the Tumbledown site, has now confirmed the date a formal approach will be made. A spokesman for McDonald’s explained plans will include keeping the front of the Tumbledown, after discussions with Farnborough residents, councillors and town MP Sir Gerald Howarth. The spokesman said: “Over four months we have consulted with people in Farnborough on our proposals. Following this, we are pleased to announce our application for a new restaurant will retain the frontage of the Tumbledown Dick pub.”
A CGI image of what the restaurant could look like has been released, and the spokesman added the food chain would bring more than 65 new jobs to the area.
Fran Beauchamp, of the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick, said retaining the front of the building was not enough.
“The Friends of the Tumbledown Dick still find this completely unacceptable,” she said. “We want to save the building in its entirety. We do not just want to save the front and sell burgers out the back.”
The group has had an application for the Tumbledown to become a listed building turned down by English Heritage. Ms Beauchamp confirmed an appeal against the decision has been lodged. She added a series of public demonstrations are being planned, to follow several protests outside the pub last year.
The McDonald’s announcement came days after the council permitted the Tumbledown building to become an ‘asset of community value’ (ACV) under the Localism Act 2011 – the first building in Rushmoor to receive the status.
This means the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick will have the chance to bid for the building during a six-month period in which it cannot be sold or demolished.
However, Andrew Lloyd, chief executive of the council said the six-month window will only take place if there was a breakdown in the deal between McDonald’s and Bride Hall Investments, the current land owners of the pub.
Ms Beauchamp said it was a “great decision” to allow the ACV but “it doesn’t automatically change things”.
The Tumbledown Dick is believed to have existed since the 1600s, and has hosted bands such as Reuben, Hundred Reasons and The Jam.
The venue has been empty since 2008 after it failed a health inspection.