Hitchin McDonald’s extended hours plea refused

A FAST food chain in Hitchin which wants to extend its opening hours has had its application refused.

The Nightingale Road McDonald’s wanted to open its chain an extra two hours a day - an hour earlier in the morning and an hour later at night - but North Herts District Council (NHDC) officers refused it on Tuesday.

The restaurant had applied to open at 7am in the morning and close at 11pm at night, seven days a week, but a consultation received only opposition to the proposals.

Ellie Clarke, secretary to the Hitchin Forum planning group, said: “The McDonald’s comes within the new conservation area, the railway station area.

“That’s quite significant, because any application needs to at least preserve and preferably enhance the conservation area and, given the problems there have been to date, there’s no way extending opening hours will protect or preserve.

“Noise, fumes, litter and anti-social behaviour associated with the operation of the restaurant are continuing problems for local residents. Extending opening hours would only exacerbate this, materially affecting their living and sleeping amenity.”

The chain had submitted a similar application in 2009, which was refused by the council on the ground of it potentially prejudicing any proposed planning on the adjoining railway sidelines.

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Ian Fullstone, NHDC’s head of development and building control, said: “After careful consideration and taking into account a number of objections raised by local residents, the application was rejected.

“Potential higher noise and fume levels, coupled with additional litter and the possibility of a rise in anti social behaviour were all contributing factors to the decision.”

A spokesman from McDonald’s said: “We want to serve our customers at the times that suit them, especially as more and more people are living outside of the nine-to-five routine.

“Whatever our opening hours may be, we will continue to work closely with any member of the community who has concerns about the impact of our business.”