Public inquiry into five-times-refused Leeds McDonald’s plan opens

The former White Bear site in Tingley.

The former White Bear site in Tingley.

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An accident blackspot could be made worse if a new McDonald’s is built at the former White Bear pub site in Leeds, a public inquiry was told.

Planning inspector Matthew Birkinshaw began hearing evidence yesterday after an appeal from the fast good giant – which had its development proposals refused by Leeds City Council for a fifth time.

The plans for the Dewsbury Road plot, close to Tingley Roundabout, were thwarted by the council because noise and disturbance would cause harm to nearby residents and encroach on their privacy.

Giving evidence, Coun Robert Finnigan (MBI, Morley North) said that he agreed with the council’s decisions.

But he argued that the appeal should also be rejected because access plans could aggravate existing traffic problems at Tingley Roundabout and the availability of fast food so close to Woodkirk Academy would be a health liability.

“This is the third worst accident blackspot in the Leeds City Council area,” he said.

And “a fast food takeaway close to a school is detrimental to public health,” he added.

But barrister James Pereira, representing McDonald’s, said: “The appeal scheme would bring back into active use a derelict site.”He added that this “should be a priority of Leeds City Council.”

Mr Pereira also said the plans would bring employment and social benefits to the area.

Jonathan Easton, speaking for the council, admitted that job prospects would be advantageous. But he said: “Such benefits do not outweigh the obvious and substantial impact on residential amenity.”

The inquiry is due to end on Friday and a decision will be made later in the year.

Statements by Tingley residents made to planning inspector

Raymond Skitt, who has lived on Oban Close for nearly 39 years, said: “My main concern is the noise and the anti-social behaviour this development will bring. “We will get gangs coming from Morley and gangs coming from Middleton.”

He concluded that if the appeal was upheld, then “they better employ a bouncer.”

Alan Street, a Tingley resident since the 1980s, said: “If a queue should build up in the development, it will extend back on to the main road. Imagine the consequences for people coming off the roundabout. Imagine the car that’s leaving McDonald’s and trying to get to the third lane to turn right. Traffic already backs up to Dewsbury.”