120 jobs created, but future of park remains unclear
FRESH calls for clarity on the development of a former BAE Systems site into a leisure park have been made.
This comes after McDonald’s opened at the Waterlooville site yesterday, creating 120 new jobs.
A Lidl supermarket has been earmarked for the Waterloo Park development off Hambledon Road.
But residents are yearning for leisure facilities such as a bowling alley or cinema.
Bowling enthusiast Mark Walden said: ‘Our town centre is on its knees. It needs to be modernised and new housing developments need to be supported.
‘I’ve contacted the developer several times but they play their cards very close to their chest. I’m very dubious over the level of marketing of the site.’
Cllr David Guest, who is in charge of economy, planning and development at Havant Borough Council, hopes that a meeting with site developer Hargreaves will shed light on the situation.
He said: ‘I’m thrilled that the jobs have been created by the new McDonald’s.
‘I hope the presence of that outlet will attract the leisure facilities that we want for the area, but you have to create some sort of interest before they come.’
Cllr Guest says that the desire for leisure facilities ‘is still very strong’.
He added: ‘I think Waterloo Park will grow in that direction as the housing and occupancy around it grows.’
McDonald’s closed its Waterlooville Precinct restaurant in 2014. The new branch has been kitted out with hi-tech features including self-service kiosks and tablets built into the tables.
Franchisee Grant Copper said: ‘It’s great to be able to come back into the town and to offer opportunities to local people in terms of jobs as well as the facilities for our customers.
‘We give lots of people entry-level jobs, but people tend to assume that McDonald’s is a place for just young people. In some restaurants, we’ll have three generations working.’
Mr Copper says that customers have welcomed the ‘experience of the future’ through the gadgets, which have already been installed in nearly half of McDonald’s branches.
The new McDonald’s can seat 160 people indoors, includes an outdoor terrace for an additional 60 customers, and a 24-hour drive-through and collection points to ease congestion.
Scott Riddle, 44, and George Roberts, 24, were the first customers, ordering double cheeseburgers and lattes.
Scott said: ‘It looks very technologically advanced. This seems like the next level for McDonald’s and I’m liking it.
‘I only work around the corner so I would imagine this is going to be a place I will frequent.’
The Hargreaves Group was approached for comment but did not respond.