Belfast Telegraph

Rats and noise fears scupper McDonald's plan for Belfast outlet

By John Mulgrew

McDonald's is "disappointed" that it looks like being refused permission for a new restaurant amid residents' concerns it would fuel a rodent problem.

The US fast food giant wants to open a 24-hour restaurant beside Asda on the Shore Road.

But officials have once again said the project should not get the go-ahead.

They said it should be turned down due to the potential noise impact on residents and that it could affect the building of new homes locally.

Locals had raised concerns about rats in the area, and that the restaurant would exacerbate the problem.

A spokesman for McDonald's told the Belfast Telegraph: "We are disappointed by this decision but fully respect the democratic planning process in place.

"We will take some time to consider our options having looked at all the information available."

It's due to be decided at Belfast City Council's planning meeting next week.

The proposal was due to go before the committee in October, but it was pulled from the agenda at the last minute.

One pensioner previously told the Belfast Telegraph that the new McDonald's beside his home would fuel the area's rodent problem.

George Reid (70) said he'd seen rats in and around his street and back yard within the last few weeks.

Mr Reid's back yard on Oakmount Drive looks on to the empty plot of land McDonald's had earmarked.

He said he was worried that food sales and rubbish could increase the numbers of rodents in the area, and noise levels would impact on his quiet suburban street, where many elderly people live.

"There are two or three causes. The main cause is this... there are rats in this area. I had the men out (from the council) and there was a rat," he said.

"There was another woman down the side of the street, and she had them out for rats."

However, addressing this concern, council planners said that "no substantive evidence was provided that the proposal would result in an increase in rats in the area".

"Environmental Health raised no issues regarding this matter."

Objections lodged over the restaurant included "concerns raised regarding traffic" coming in and out of the area, and with the potential noise impact.

A letter of support was received from North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds indicating that the area would benefit from further investment and jobs, the planners revealed.

While planners said they were initially satisfied the scheme would not have an impact on residents with noise or anti-social behaviour, they said the applicant "failed to demonstrate that the use of the car park can be restricted" after midnight.

"It is considered that there is potential for adverse impact on residential amenity by virtue of noise and disturbance by use of the car park."

Summing up the reasons for turning it down, they said: "The proposal is contrary to the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015 as the site is zoned for housing, and if permitted would prejudice the delivery of housing in an area of current housing need."

Belfast Telegraph

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