PLANS for a drive-thru Starbucks a few feet away from a children’s play park have been given approval by the government.
Gosport Borough Council refused an application for a drive-through Starbucks in Gosport Leisure Park, Forest Way, in December last year.
Following this, the coffee chain appealed to the government planning inspectorate, which has now overturned the council’s decision.
It comes after hundreds of residents in the nearby estate campaigned against the development, saying the drive-through sits too close to a children’s playground and would add to the already heavy traffic in the area.
Paul Kemp, 67, said: ‘It’s a hell of a blow for the estate.
‘When the regulatory board threw the application out we really thought it was a done deal.
‘Now we’re going to have a huge brick building on what is currently a nice bit of green – plus a lot more traffic to boot.’
In his report, planning inspector Nick Davies wrote that the coffee shop would see visitors staying at Gosport Leisure Park for longer, rather than going to Brockhurst Gate Retail Park.
He added that Starbucks ‘stated that the inclusion of the drive-through facility is critical to the commercial viability of the scheme’.
Gosport Borough Councillor Stephen Philpott says he understands the frustration of residents – but welcomes the extra jobs coming to the area.
Cllr Philpott said: ‘The development means there will be more jobs created for local people, so I welcome the economic boost.
‘But it’s important the concerns of residents are listened to; it’s my understanding that as a result of resident campaigning, a lot more trees are being retained.’
Cllr Philpott added that the stipulation laid out in 2016 for no fast food was to prevent access to unhealthy food – not to prevent the creation of a drive-through.
But Mr Kemp says the council must now act to protect users of the play park.
‘The drive-through is just too close to the playground,’ he said.
‘I can't see us stopping it but the council needs to consider moving the playground and putting in a crossing, for the children’s safety.
‘The general consensus on the estate is that this was the last thing we needed.’