Plans for a new McDonald’s on Wallington High Street have divided residents with some claiming it will trigger the decline of the town centre. The planning application for the site of the old Barclays bank has attracted dozens of objections.
The plans, validated over the Christmas period, would see the fast food chain set up shop on the corner site previously occupied by Barclays, before it closed last June. The plans would see Wallington lose the ATM at the site of the old bank.
Residents have taken to Facebook to discuss whether the introduction of this famous chain restaurant on their high street would be a good thing. Dozens have made official objections to the application.
Objections to the plans have been varied, but there seems to be a shared feeling among residents that they can do “better” for their high street. One resident even went so far as to say the plans would be “the final nail in the coffin for Wallington”.
On Facebook, Eliot Carrol commented: “We need investment in the high street, whether that’s through negotiations with current landlords or working with the council to look at business awards or grants. We need ways to attract independent businesses that benefit the area, not big fast food chains which has no tangible community benefits. This is not what Wallington needs. It will have a detrimental impact on a street that desperately needs positive change.”
Richard Mead echoed this call for community-driven assets and suggested that the council better support the arts. He said: “The old bank would be much better as a community/arts centre. CryerArts have shown how successful these can be, despite a total withdrawal of all funding from Sutton Council. Personally, I would love another exhibition/gallery venue within the town.”
It’s not the first time McDonald’s has tried to get a location in Wallington. Some residents also objected to the fast food chain’s last bid to set up on Wallington’s Stafford Road in 2013.
Wallington has had his own experiences of violent crime this year. The non-fatal stabbing of a 27-year-old man inside Wallington’s Sainsburys on Christmas Eve came as a shock to many living in the town of Sutton.
“Is that something Wallington really wants?”
Chrissi Matusevics said: “Think how bad the food can be in them and the kind of people who seem to be attracted to them as I’ve seen around both Sutton and Croydon, both of which have full time security staff is that something Wallington really wants?”
One resident even took his objections from a nutritional standpoint, arguing that a healthier restaurant would be a better addition to the high street. Sara Knowles said: “Nothing positive about McDonald’s. This constant advertising of food that is harmful to your health in every way, it’s a joke. This will continue without a doubt. How about a nice restaurant that has the best nutritional meals ?”
At the time of writing, there have been over 80 official responses to the application, many of them objections. Like the Facebook comment, these objections have been varied.
One resident, Jacqueline Fletcher said: “It will cause Uber drivers to gather and block roads and pavements.” Another, Jill Nelson, added: “There would be an increase in traffic near a very busy intersection.”
Despite the extensive list of complaints, some residents saw the positives in the new plans. Particular focus was placed on the economic benefits it could bring to the area.
On Facebook, Linzii Claire commented: “It must be better than another charity shop or estate agent. McDonald’s offers many job opportunities and training programs.”
£1m sale price “restrictions option”
The historic and attractive building at 110 – 112 Woodcote Road is an expensive property, with a listed sale price in excess of £1m. If the plans are accepted, McDonald’s intends to demolish and replace the one-story building at the rear of the building and build a dumpster enclosure near the rear of the property.
Some residents have noted the cost of buying and operating a commercial property in their comments and have suggested that the inclusion of the fast food outlet is a pragmatic option. They, along with a number of other commentators, also mentioned what they saw as the general “decline” of the high street.
On Facebook, Craig Field said: “This property is listed for sale for over a million pounds, what small independent restaurateur or small business can afford this and then pay for the conversion for use? Let’s get real people, no one else will invest in it. It will lie there and rot.”
Faye Scantlebury added: “Whether you like McDonald’s or not, you need a driver to make high streets work. Unfortunately, high streets can no longer survive on independents alone.” The outcome of the building permit will be decided at the planning committee’s meeting within the next month.
Don’t miss the biggest news from South London. Sign up to our MySouthLondon newsletter HERE for all the latest daily news and more.