A proposed new service station and McDonald’s drive-thru off the A30 near Ottery St Mary is on the verge of netting the go-ahead – again.
Blueprints for the plot at Straightway Head Junction, next to the Daisymount roundabout, have been recommended for approval for a second time.
That is despite planning officers slamming new CGI designs of the mooted development.
The scheme includes:
- A petrol filling station with five pumps;
- A forecourt shop/sales building measuring 500 sq m located in the centre of the site comprising a sales area, a hot food and coffee outlet;
- A total of 103 car parking spaces, including 81 light vehicle spaces, four disabled spaces, 10 motorcycle spaces, eight HGV/coach spaces and two electric vehicle charging points;
- A two-storey building with accompanying drive-thru and associated outdoor play area. The applicant has stated that McDonald’s is the intended operator.
A decision over the fate of the application was delayed in December.
East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Development Management Committee deferred its verdict over design concerns and asked for CGI images to be produced.
These have now been submitted, but the authority’s landscape architect has panned them as ‘very disappointing and misleading’.
The committee is now set to determine the fate of the scheme next Monday via Zoom – in what will be the authority’s first-ever virtual meeting.
A report to members says: “It is disappointing that the montages produced are not of a form or accuracy which can support officers in determining the impact that the proposal will have.
“Officers cannot be sure that the CGIs are 100 per cent accurate and as such do not recommend that members given them full weight when determining the application.”
Planning permission for a much larger service station – that also included a hotel – has previously been granted for the plot.
As a result, the report says that officers are left in the same position they were in December and approval is recommended.
“Notwithstanding the localised impact, it is considered that the proposed roadside services scheme has been sited, designed and landscaped to minimise its impact on the character and appearance of the wider landscape,” the report adds.
“In addition, the proposal would meet an established need and perform an important road safety function by providing opportunities for the travelling public to stop and take a break by closing the existing gap in the provision of roadside facilities along this section of the A30.
“The benefit from the additional roadside service facility and associated road safety function, when weighed alongside other benefits such as job creation during construction, longer-term employment opportunities within the petrol filling station, shop and the drive-thru building, and the contribution to the local economy that would be derived from this scheme, are considered to be significant social and economic benefits that outweigh the limited and localised visual impact and landscape harm.”
However, local councillors are opposed to the scheme and, giving their preliminary views to the committee, say it should be refused.
Councillor Kathy McLauchlan, who represents the Whimple ward, said: “The CGI images that were requested by the Development Management Committee are misleading and not representative of how the service station would appear on the landscape.
“I am still of the opinion that the plans as they stand would cause significant harm to the countryside and I have driven the length of the A30 from Ilminster to Daisymount and still feel that this service station is neither desired nor required at this point on the A30.”
Cllr Vicky Johns, who represents the Ottery St Mary ward added: “I also have concerns that the shop is quite large and not a farm shop, as I believe it should be within the policy on retail within the open countryside.”
Cllr Jess Bailey, who represents the West Hill and Aylesbeare ward, said: “It is a highly-sensitive and prominent site and I believe that the very urbanising appearance of the two-storey McDonald’s and service station will be severely detrimental.
“The retail element is likely to cause significant harm to existing retailers in surrounding towns and villages and approval of this application would directly contradict the climate change emergency declared by EDDC.”
The fate of the application near Ottery and Whimple is set to be decided on Monday, May 18.