Yate market expansion approved after claim stalls could clash with McDonald's drive-thru queue
A BID to expand Yate Shopping Centre’s market stalls has been approved – despite fears raised of a collision because of tailbacks at McDonald’s drive-thru.
One resident objected to the centre’s block street trading licence application on the grounds of public safety and nuisance, which meant a South Gloucestershire Council hearing had to be held to decide it.
Licensing sub-committee members gave the green light after hearing planning permission had recently been granted for an extra lane of cars at the fast-food restaurant.
The centre, which was put up for sale for £53 million last month, had a licence for only 10 outdoor stallholders, which was due to expire next April, but it now has consent for up to 50 for the daily market.
However, the complex’s manager, Andrew Lowery, told the hearing at Kingswood Civic Centre that this was likely to be only five on weekdays, the same as now, increasing to 25 on Saturdays.
He said Green Top Events, the organisers of markets in Thornbury, Chipping Sodbury and several towns in South Wales and the Forest of Dean, had approached the shopping centre to say they could attract between 15 to 20 additional pitches on Saturdays.
Mr Lowery told councillors: “We don’t anticipate going anywhere close to 50. The maximum we could apply for is either 10 or 50, which is why we put in the application for 50.
“Retail has gone through a very difficult period with covid, shopping habits have very much changed. Our customers are visiting us less but spending more in one trip.”
He said footfall was 22 per cent lower than before the pandemic.
Mr Lowery said the Yate Masterplan being developed by South Gloucestershire Council called for a bigger range and better shops, with food, crafts and farmers’ markets.
He said: “A market will not necessarily attract lots of new customers. I don’t believe for a minute we will suddenly see a massive increase in traffic on a Saturday, which is where we are really hurting at the moment.
“We used to attract 45,000 customers on a Saturday. We are now around 30,000, so it has massively reduced.”
Mr Lowery said that even during the busiest hour, between noon and 1pm on a Saturday, the six car parks had 200 unoccupied spaces of the 1,450 available.
The resident who objected said in a statement that they were surprised there had not been a serious accident at the McDonald’s drive-thru and that the increase in stalls on a Saturday would exacerbate the problem.
But Mr Lowery said planning permission for the extra lane meant greater capacity for queueing vehicles and more order points, while the easing of restrictions meant additional staff could process orders and cook the food quicker.
He said: “McDonald’s are very serious about making sure they do improve matters and they are also talking to us about maybe widening the entrance road to that car park.
The application was backed by Yate Central ward Liberal Democrat councillors Ruth Davis and John Gawn, and one resident.
Cllr Davis told the meeting on November 9: “They have had a block licence for over 15 years very successfully.
“The ability to put in extra stalls means we have had very diverse, extra shopping opportunities, especially around Christmastime, including small traders that couldn’t afford a small unit and entrepreneurs that want to test the water as to whether what they are trying to sell is feasible. It makes for a very good mix.”
Cllr Davis said she appreciated the frustration and worry over the McDonald’s issue because tailbacks spilled back onto the main road at busy times but that the planning consent would resolve this.
“There will be a few more people but there is the capacity to do that, and they won’t be coming in through the McDonald’s entrance. There are much bigger parking areas elsewhere,” Cllr Davis said.
“This will help the long-term sustainability of the shopping centre.”
Granting the licence, panel chairman Cllr Keith Cranney (Con, Stoke Gifford) said: “The sub-committee considered that the improvements to the McDonald’s car park layout would alleviate the concerns raised in the representation from the local resident.”
Stalls can open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Thursday, 8am to 6pm Friday and Saturday and 9am to 4am on Sundays.
They will include hot and cold food and drink, car valeting, flowers and plants, and handmade and general merchandise.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service