McDonald's to open fourth site in Ashford next to 'tank roundabout' off Chart Road Most popular

Controversial plans for Ashford’s fourth McDonald’s have been approved – despite concerns over increased traffic on one of the town’s busiest roundabouts.

The new drive-thru restaurant will be built along Chart Road next to the notoriously congested ‘tank roundabout’ and will be accessed from Bridge Road.

It will join the town’s three other restaurants in Eureka Park, the high street and Orbital Park – the latter being the company’s busiest drive-thru in Europe.

Plans for the 136-seater restaurant were originally submitted in September 2020 but were withdrawn four months later while further highways discussions were held with Kent County Council (KCC).

They were then resubmitted with two amendments.

These included making the roundabout entrance from Templer Way wider and moving a pedestrian crossing on Chart Road further down to improve traffic flow and “allow the existing two to one lane merge to be pushed further away from the roundabout”.

With those changes made, Tony Jenson, senior development planner at KCC Highways, said: “Taking account of the updated traffic modelling and queuing figures and when considered in conjunction with the two highway improvements in the vicinity of the proposal site, I can confirm that the highway impact of the proposed drive through restaurant would no longer be considered severe in nature.

“As such, it would not warrant a recommendation of refusal from the local highway authority.”

But with 18 objections, some feel these changes will not be enough to alleviate traffic concerns at the site, which is set to stay open for 24 hours.

Repton ward representative Cllr Bernard Heyes (Con) said: “The tank roundabout becomes highly congested particularly in peak hours and this will exacerbate the problem.

McDonald's to open fourth site in Ashford next to 'tank roundabout' off Chart Road Most popular

“It will also cause tailbacks on the junction between Carlton Road and the roundabout.

“The amount of traffic that this fast food retail outlet will produce will make the whole situation a lot worse.”

He also questioned the need for a fourth restaurant in Ashford when there is a public health need to discourage children from eating fast food.

Echoing the concerns in her objection letter was Ruby Carter who said: “The tank roundabout is already a source of traffic chaos without throwing cars queuing to get into the drive through into the mix.

“The proposed site is a large field with meadows and wildflowers which are essential for bees, birds and other pollinators.

“As one of the only patches of greenery in the area, where are they supposed to go?

“To suggest Ashford needs a fourth McDonald’s is quite frankly embarrassing.

“Also this site is a stone’s throw from Ashford’s tip, which smells awful, no one would want to be eating within nose-shot of all that rubbish plus the smoke from the foundry.”

The new restaurant – which is just 1.2 miles from the Eureka branch – will also have an outdoor play area on the patio and will create 65 jobs.

Including two disabled spots, there will be 53 parking spaces as well as 14 cycle bays.

The plans, submitted by WPB Contractors, were approved by Ashford Borough Council planning officers on Monday and did not go to committee.

The stretch of Chart Road between the ‘tank’ and Matalan roundabouts is set to become a dual carriageway, but the £26m scheme is not expected to be completed until 2024 as developers building the Chilmington Green housing estate are yet to stump up a security bond.