Application process begun
An application has been put forward to open a new McDonalds at the Audley Avenue Retail Park in Newport. If it is approved, it is expected that it will bring the equivalent of 65 full-time food jobs for local people.
It will be both a sit-in restaurant and a drive-through, and will be placed alongside four new shops and a branch of Lidl. The new extension of the existing retail area will be built to the north of the existing Aldi supermarket, which is sure to cause some fierce competition between the two brands.
The McDonalds will be placed on the nearest part of the land to the entrance and exit of the mini retail park, which will join the A41. The land is currently sitting empty.
The design and access statement which was submitted alongside the application proposes 40 car parking spaces for customers, including two disabled bays. These indicate the amount of customers that the brand expects to see coming through the area. There will also be two grill bays which are set aside for drive through customers.
The application says, “The proposal is composed of a free-standing McDonald’s restaurant with drive-through with associated landscaping and car park. The development will fit comfortably into the surrounding area and enhance the appearance of the overall retail park. This will contribute favourably to the economic and social needs of Telford and Wrekin. The building has been designed with natural security and surveillance in mind. Incidents of anti-social behaviour are kept to an absolute minimum through strategies such as staff training in dealing with incidents, liaison with community police officers and use of CCTV cameras where necessary. By adding to the social and economic assets of the borough, this will contribute to the overall growth of Newport.”
Controversy over growth
There has been some controversy over the extension of the retail park, and particularly the area in which it is placed – with some residents believing that it will allow customers to avoid going into Newport’s town centre. The Newport Town Team had called for the project to be rejected by the council, saying that it would undermine the viability of the retail businesses which already exist in the town.
However, the retail park was given the go-ahead by the council last year. It is thought that around 88 new jobs will be created across all of the businesses in the site – which gives some idea of just how valuable the McDonalds food recruitment is going to be within the local community.
A report has also estimated that the retail park will be able to bring an astonishing £2.5 million to the surrounding area’s economy. This is a huge figure, which is sure to impress those who had opposed the park initially.
The opinion amongst locals is still divided, however. One commented, “What has happened to Newport. A lovely market town is now a sprawl poorly built houses and chav takeaways [sic].”
Another local added, “Another town heading for death by out-of-town-trading. Ludlow forced Tescos to stay reasonably within town borders - it can be done, but councillors have to learn from Ludlow's story.”
On the other hand, some residents are more enthusiastic – with calls coming from those living further away to build new McDonalds branches elsewhere around the outskirts of Newport! It looks like this will continue to divide opinion until after it opens.