Downham town councillors oppose McDonald's and Starbucks planning bid
Plans to build new McDonald's and Starbucks outlets on the edge of Downham have been unanimously rejected by town councillors tonight.
Developers claim the scheme proposed for land close to the Bexwell roundabout will create dozens of new jobs in the area.
But members raised a host of objections including environmental impact and potential harm to the surrounding conservation area.
Deputy mayor Jenny Groom said: "What we're looking at is an industrial estate development surrounded by a residential area.
"It's completely inappropriate and it will impact significantly on the street scene."
Dozens of residents packed into the meeting, which was moved to the town hall from the council's offices in Paradise Road.
Among them was 13-year-old Evey Cornelius who argued against the scheme on environmental and road safety grounds during a session for public participation.
She said: "I hope you make the right decision. Our town does not need this."
Her grandfather, Stephen, said the nearest property is just eight metres from the site and the developers were wrong to claim it was 30 metres away instead.
He said: "Nobody wants to live eight metres away from McDonald's.
"I implore you to object to this."
The meeting was told that outline planning permission had been granted for the development of the site five years ago but had now lapsed.
And Mr Cornelius told members they were not obliged to back the new scheme, which the applicants claim will create a total of 90 full and part-time jobs.
Road safety was another key concern because of the site's proximity to both the roundabout and the Downham Market Academy.
The meeting was told that two students from the school had previously been involved in collisions on Bexwell Road.
Mr Cornelius said: "I think it's going to be an accident blackspot and an accident waiting to happen."
And councillor Doug Lawson said the proposed vehicle access was the "worst option possible" on safety grounds
He added: "On that grounds alone it should be rejected."
Members of the public applauded when councillors voted against the application.
But the authority is only a consultee and West Norfolk Council will make the final decision on whether the scheme can proceed in due course.
The meeting was also told that, of 151 published comments on the borough council's planning website so far, 81 were opposed and 68 in favour with one neutral post.