KFC given go-ahead at former NatWest bank site in New Milton
A CONTROVERSIAL bid to convert a former high street bank in New Milton into a KFC restaurant and takeaway has been greenlit by New Forest District Council planners.
The fast food chain has promised 20 new jobs from the development of the old NatWest building at 59 Station Road, which has lain empty for more than three-and-a-half years. It's set to open in December.
But, as reported in the A&T, the proposal divided residents and two contesting online petitions each collected dozens of signatures.
By Wednesday, 201 people had signed Heidi Down’s 'Stop KFC Coming to New Milton' petition, and there were 172 signatures on Joe Greg’s 'Give KFC Franchise Permission for Store in New Milton' document.
Increased litter and anti-social behaviour were among fears raised by those against the plan, while supporters said it would boost New Milton’s visitor numbers and trade.
More than 200 comments on the application by Caskade Caterers were submitted to NFDC, with 136 in favour and 89 against.
It granted planning permission for the change of use to a mixed restaurant and hot food takeaway last Friday after twice delaying the decision from the original deadline a month earlier.
Having consulted with Environmental Health, planners ruled the development, with plant and extraction system and a bin store, would not cause significant noise and fume disturbance to nearby residents.
In response to the littering concerns, KFC sent the council a copy of its Good Neighbour Guide, which states it seeks local partners to work with the community on issues such as litter management. It also said staff carry out up to four litter patrols per day in the restaurant’s immediate area.
Although acknowledging the extensive 10am-midnight Monday to Sunday opening times, planning officer Vivienne Baxter concluded this did not conflict with the town council’s vision to broaden the appeal of the town centre.
“The proposal would provide the opportunity for a prime town centre, currently vacant building to be reused and so add to the vitality and viability of the primary shopping area,” she wrote.
“The New Milton Neighbourhood Plan makes reference to broadening the town's appeal to younger households and notes that the number of restaurants and cafes are noticeably lower than comparable towns.
“There is a desire to develop the town centre with an evening economy, and the proposal would go some way to the creation of this.”
Conditions of approval for the eatery, which would seat 48 diners, include implementing and maintaining noise mitigation and odour control.
Deliveries and collections, including for waste, are also restricted to between 7am and 11pm daily.
A KFC spokesperson said: “KFC New Milton is a go! We’ll be winging our way to you just in time for some festive cheer this December. Watch this space!”