A £5m plan to bring McDonald’s and Starbucks to Huntly have been approved despite worries they would be “devastating” to the town centre.
The project by Dean West Huntly LLP, a joint venture between local shortbread firm Dean’s and Aberdeen developer West Coast Estates, was approved by councillors today.
The fast food and coffee drive-thrus will be built on a two acre site at Linnorie Business Park on the outskirts of the town just off the busy A96.
As well as the coffee shop and restaurant, there will also be an electric vehicle charging hub with eight points to be operated by Dutch company Fastned.
New signboards will be put in place to advertise Huntly in a bid to encourage passing trade to return and stop by for a longer visit.
It has been estimated that the development could contribute more than £100,000 a year in business rates – providing a welcome boost for the local economy.
Meanwhile, the new McDonald’s restaurant would create around 120 full and part-time jobs.
The super-fast charging hub would generate enough power for up to four charging sessions per day.
The proposal has been a huge hit with residents, with a whopping 350 letters of support submitted to Aberdeenshire Council.
Those backing the project welcomed the EV charging points, new jobs and believed it would encourage people to stop and visit Huntly.
But 63 people wrote to the local authority to object to the plan.
There was a huge concern about a lack of safe travel connections for pedestrians along the A96, while some claimed it would have a “devastating” impact on local businesses.
There were even worries that the restaurant being open late into the night could lead to anti-social behaviour in the area.
However council planners recommended the development be approved.
While they were aware the site could have “some negative impacts” on the town centre, they said the site’s potential benefits and wider economic benefits would combat that.
Planners also welcomed the large number of employment opportunities it would create.
The application went before members of the Marr area committee this morning.
Councillor Jeff Goodhall expressed his doubts over the proposal.
“We have a greater economic plus for Huntly but there will be effects on the town centre and we can’t ignore those,” he stated.
“These are mitigated by having signage up to encourage people to visit the town centre but I’m very concerned about the effect on it.
“I really don’t want to see Huntly becoming yet another doughnut town where everything is developed around the town centre.”
But committee chairman Robbie Withey gave the scheme his full support and believed it would be a “benefit” to the town.
“I go to The Bank for food and other places in Huntly quite regularly.
“I don’t see a situation where McDonald’s or Starbucks are competing, it’s a completely different offering to what’s already there.”
Despite some initial worries, the plan was unanimously approved.
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