Herefordshire Councillor Chris Bartrum (Ross North) has made an impassioned plea to fellow council members regarding the contentious application from McDonald's for a new outlet on the Ross-on-Wye bypass - which has been since been struck down. During a meeting of the Herefordshire Council Planning and Regulatory Committee on July 26, Cllr Bartrum highlighted a series of significant concerns including public health, landscape impact, economic implications and transport challenges.
The proposed location of the fast-food chain, which is alarmingly close to John Kyrle High School, and the above-average levels of childhood obesity in Herefordshire, were amongst the principal health concerns cited by Cllr Bartrum. He urged his colleagues to consider the council's statutory duty to improve public health and pointed to published research showing a link between fast-food outlets and rising levels of childhood obesity.
Cllr Bartrum emphasised the negative impact the fast-food establishment could have on the local landscape, specifically its proximity to the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). He expressed doubt that a standard McDonald's structure with signage and lighting, operating for 18 hours a day, would not significantly disrupt the scenic beauty of the area.
With regard to transport, the Cllr Bartrum criticised the applicant's reliance on a 2019 traffic survey. A recent physical traffic count commissioned by residents revealed that current traffic volumes were up to 30 per cent higher than the applicant's data. Given McDonald's own prediction of visitor numbers - around 1,000,000 vehicles per year, Cllr Bartrum voiced concerns about the capacity of the local road network to handle the increased traffic.
Cllr Bartrum urged the committee to resist the McDonald's application based on health, landscape impact, economic impact, and transport grounds.