Oakham hits national headlines as debate over whether Rutland should get a McDonald's restaurant and drive-thru
A planned McDonald’s in Rutland has divided the county.
National media this week reported many residents oppose the proposal for Oakham, fearing it will attract ‘riff raff’ and lower house prices.
However, comments received by Rutland County Council reveal some support for what would be the burger chain’s first outlet in the county.
The fast food giant submitted its application in June after public consultation in May, which said 60 per cent of people supported it or were neutral.
The proposal for a 372m2 restaurant on a 4,461m2 site at Lands End Way would create 35 full-time and 30 part-time jobs.
The site on undeveloped land is close to new developments, including Aldi, BP and Marks and Spencer.
Rutland County Council has yet to assess the application, with planning staff still gathering information before producing a report and making a recommendation.
The council is unlikely to determine the issue this month, but a spokesman say it may in October.
Already the proposal has attracted more than 50 comments from nearby residents, plus others from as far away as Leeds, Peterborough and Salisbury.
A number of views on the proposals have been published on Rutland County Council’s website.
Debbie Williamson feared the impact of the drive-thru on Oakham’s independent ships and claimed “there is research showing that having a McDonald’s in the vicinity will devalue house prices.”
She told the council other franchise chains might move in and she feared extra traffic and litter from the proposal.
“I am proud that Rutland is the only county not to have a McDonald’s.”
Mr and Mrs Tom and Emma Senior said they were ‘proud’ Rutland is the only county without a McDonald’s.
“I feel it will really degrade Oakham to have one.”
Joanna Atkins also feared the impact on house prices for nearby homes, and concluded “Oakham deserves better than cheap, processed burgers in throwaway containers”.
Robin Ball noted snacks could already be bought from “independent artisans.”
He added: “Let’s not encourage the lowest common-denominator chains, let’s encourage and promote the produce that make the county so special.”
Anne Lewis also saw ‘pride’ in Rutland lacking a McDonald’s.
She was concerned about rising obesity levels and thought the proposal would make the problem even worse as the out-of-town site would encourage people to use their cars.
Anna added: “Why provide a facility which will feed people rubbish and generate rubbish.”
Chamelle Els also feared harm to house prices and doubted local roads would cope with the traffic the scheme would generate.
She added: “If people really want McDonald’s they can travel 8.2 miles to Melton or 12 miles to Stamford.”
However, Simon Parker supported the scheme and the 65 jobs it would bring, using land that has been empty for four years.
“I would much rather that it be used for something like this than another warehouse or remain unused.”
Michell Pugh also cited the jobs and the scheme saving people a trip to other towns for McDonald’s, adding this may attract people to shop in Oakham instead.
Derek Cullen said he would be saved a 20-mile ride to Melton and instead he could walk to the proposed site.
He added: “I have always been impressed with how clean McDonald’s site are.”
McDonald’s said in its planning application: “The McDonald’s planning team now feel that Oakham has a suitable size to justify a restaurant.”
The application added there were no alternative sites in Oakham town centre that would be suitable for a McDonald’s with drive-thru and parking.