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McDonald's, Lidl, Starbucks and a residential home in Downham Market



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Plans for a new residential home in Downham have been unanimously approved today at a West Norfolk Council planning committee meeting.

The Bexwell site, near Hillcrest, in Downham, is already marked for commercial development after plans for fast food giant McDonald's and Starbucks were approved last year.

Developers say the facility in Bexwell Road, would help to meet a "critical local need".

Proposed care home Downham (47919654)
Proposed care home Downham (47919654)

Designs for the facility show a large 72-bed residential home which will include a hairdresser, nail salon, restaurant,café and even a cinema.

Concerns were raised about the design of the building fitting the local vernacular, despite the front featuring red carrstone, Downham's signature brick.

Noise was also a factor for consideration, as the proposed new developments would attract a lot of people at different times of the day and night.

Construction work for Starbucks and Mcdonald's has begun at Bexwell in Downham (44489523)
Construction work for Starbucks and Mcdonald's has begun at Bexwell in Downham (44489523)

Downham councillor Frank Damon said: "The land was designated as suitable for residential use. No time has it been discussed with councillors or the town for commercial use.

"It has a flat roof which doesn't fit in with the rest of the buildings and does not use local material, it is visually out of context.

"Twenty-eight parking spaces for the size of this home is inadequate. We are also concerned about the traffic flow. It is an industrial production unit and the product is people nearing the end of their life. It would be better suited to Milton Keynes or Welwyn Garden City."

In reply, developer Hamish Watson said: "It's not for the people nearing the end of their life it's for the very elderly.

"That's where we look at the design, with windows letting in a lot of light to suit the needs of future residents. Due to the age of the residents none of them drive so they won't have cars, the parking is for visitors and staff.

"The site lies within the development area of the town and there is a clear need for a C2 facility such as this.

"The design for the building is based on the consented design from Lidl, Starbucks and McDonald's. In respect to the local economy the proposal will create up to 60 jobs and the use of carrstone will be used for the front of the building which is in line with the buildings of the town."

Councillor Jo Rust said: "I'm thinking about the amount of parking available for visitors and staff is there anywhere else for people to park, if 15 staff are parked that leaves very little spaces for visitors."

Eight letters of objection had been received in relation to the project but it was still approved.

Seventeen councillors voted in favour. One abstained.

Building works in the area appeared to have begun but have ground to a halt.

A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “We are pleased to be progressing with our plans and hope to start building works before the end of 2021, with a proposed opening in the first half of 2022.”

Starbucks and Lidl have been contacted for comment.



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