CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a McDonald’s drive-through near one of Havant’s busiest roundabouts have been given the go-ahead.
Despite fears from community leaders about the roundabout becoming gridlocked, councillors at Havant Borough Council voted to approve plans for the £1m restaurant off Larchwood Avenue, next to the Asda supermarket in Bedhampton.
Four local councillors, who do not sit on the planning committee, made representations, pleading with members of the committee to refuse the development until improvements are made to the Purbrook Way roundabout, which has five junctions.
The meeting last night came after a final decision was deferred in January until further traffic reports were carried out.
A total of 312 people signed a petition against the plans.
Cllr David Keast told the committee: ‘There’s a problem there. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s not.’
Cllr Faith Ponsonby said: ‘There have been a number of near misses. It is an accident waiting to happen.’
County councillor Ann Buckley feared the restaurant would become a service station for motorway traffic.
But Cllr Mike Fairhurst told the committee the extra 80 jobs were needed for young people.
He said: ‘We are rapidly becoming a dormitory town and here we have the opportunity to put that right.’
A traffic report, done by ADL Traffic Engineering Ltd at the request of McDonald’s, stated there would be one extra car in the traffic queues at each junction every five minutes – apart from Larchwood Avenue, which would have an extra six.
Council highway officials said they thought the drive-through would not make traffic worse.
However, they want to do a study in the future, looking at ways of improving the roundabout. Funding to pay for this could take several years to find.
Cllr Elaine Shimbart, who sits on the committee, said: ‘I can understand why people are saying it should not go ahead because of problems on the roundabout.
‘But seriously I don’t think McDonald’s opening there will cause a significantly different amount of traffic.’
Cllr Richard Galloway said: ‘It’s no good being open for business if the borough is one big traffic jam.’
Cllr John Smith added: ‘I would like to see Havant busy and prosperous, rather than have roads that are empty.
‘I think we need extra trade.’
The vote was unanimous to approve the plans.