Councillors have given planning permission to plans to build a Starbucks drive-thru in a supermarket car park.
The drive-thru, in the Morrisons car park on Kettering Road, will now be built despite the objections of two ward councillors and a host of residents, who made their views known at Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee meeting this evening (March 19).
Locals have been left ‘angry and hurt’ by the application after a similar drive-thru was approved for McDonald's in the car park last July by the same committee.
The concerns raised over the McDonald’s application, regarding the impact on traffic in the nearby area, were not enough to persuade the committee last summer. And neither were they successful in persuading them tonight, as it was approved by four votes to three.
Planning chairman Councillor Brian Oldham said: “I don’t think this would lead to an epidemic of new vehicles. I think it would mostly be used by people within the vicinity. On planning grounds I don’t think an inspector would support a refusal based on what is in this report. So I will be supporting this application.”
Planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval, and considered the application ‘would not create unacceptable impact on highway safety, visual amenity, general and residential amenity’.
But ward councillors Cathrine Russell and Mike Hallam attempted to fight the corner for residents, who have argued that existing junctions at the site are already ‘beyond capacity’.
Councillor Russell, as a member of the planning committee, was asked to leave the room having called in the application.
But Councillor Hallam said: “The cumulative impact of the McDonald's and the new housing development at Parklands Middle School make approving this Starbucks incomprehensible. People in my community don't want this and the people who will get caught up in the traffic don't want it either."
Local resident Helen Reay, who lives around the corner from the development added: “This is a residential area with a supermarket and a petrol station. To try and redevelop it as a retail area is not compatible with the character of the local area. A queue at Starbucks will completely block the entrance to the whole site."
Councillor Dennis Meredith, who voted against the scheme, said: “Officers have got this recommendation to approve wrong. Traffic around that area is horrendous. If I was a resident in this area I would be pulling my hair out, because this could make this a no-go area and there would be issues over air quality."
The application, which was submitted by Morrisons, will see the new drive-thru create approximately 20 jobs. It would see supermarket shoppers lose 36 parking spaces, although 14 more would be provided at the Starbucks, which will be open from 5:30am until 11pm.
Although this results in a net loss of 22 parking spaces, planning officers believe ‘there would still be available capacity in the car park to accommodate the demand arising from the supermarket, McDonald’s restaurant and Starbucks coffee shop’.
Gary Swarbrick, acting as the agent on behalf of Morrisons, said: "Clearly Morrisons would not propose an application that would be detrimental to our own car park.
"This will generate 20 jobs, and I hope that is afforded significant weight. it's a sustainable development that will enhance the offer for shoppers and residents."