New Sunderland KFC at Barnes Service Station set to be refused permission

Controversial proposals for a new KFC drive-thru in Sunderland could be refused on the advice of planning officers, following childhood obesity concerns.

Back in February, 2022, Sunderland City Council’s planning department validated plans for the Barnes Service Station, which sits between Queen Alexandra Road and Durham Road in the St Michael’s ward.

Proposals from Euro Garages Ltd aimed to flatten the site, which is currently occupied by a petrol filling station and a convenience store, and to build a KFC drive-thru restaurant in its place.

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Planning documents stated the new development would create 50 jobs, split between part-time and full-time roles and would operate with a one-way system through the site.

KFC

However the plans sparked opposition from locals with hundreds of people signing a petition against the plans and a number of councillors from St Michael’s, Barnes and Millfield wards also raising concerns.

Councillors were due to make a decision on the development at a meeting of the Planning and Highways Committee on Monday, September 19.

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But following the death of Queen Elizabeth II and her state funeral being arranged for the same date, the council planning hearing will now take place on Thursday, September 22.

A committee report prepared by council planners notes 45 objections have been received linked to the KFC drive-thru, as well as a petition, raising a range of issues.

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Barnes Service Station.

Concerns included potential visual impacts, loss of privacy, noise, odour and air quality impacts, highway safety, loss of heritage and obesity and health impacts.

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Although council planners have deemed the scheme acceptable on many issues including highway safety, subject to site management plans and other conditions, they have recommended that councillors refuse the plans.

This is because the proposed KFC outlet would be within a 400-metre radius of entry points to three schools, in direct conflict with a key council planning policy aiming to tackle obesity and create “safe and healthy communities”.

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Wider factors were also considered in the recommendation including predicted increases in childhood obesity figures and the “large concentration” of existing fast food takeaways in the area.

Sunderland City Council planners, in a report, added the proposed drive-thru would “represent inappropriate development” and would lead to “increased access to an unhealthy eating outlet”.

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Those behind the development have said while the site is planned to be a KFC, there is “no guarantee that this will be the end user”.

A statement included in the committee report noted the site “could be home to KFC or Leon”, both of which sell different types of food, but that KFC is “increasingly selling more healthier and vegetarian options”.

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However a report prepared by council planners said “mitigating factors” put forward by the applicant are “not sufficient to outweigh the harm identified”.

The Planning and Highways Committee report adds: “Whilst the proposal would increase potential employment opportunities within the locality it is not within an [area] identified as a key employment area.

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“The proposed development would represent inappropriate development given that it would lead to increased access to an unhealthy eating outlet”.

A decision on the KFC drive-thru plan rests with councillors on the Planning and Highways Committee, who will next meet at City Hall on September 22.

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The meeting is scheduled to start at 6.30pm and will be open to the public.