Ambitions to open a brand new McDonald’s restaurant and takeaway in Southport look set to be approved next week.
The proposal for the new eatery, in the former Royal Doulton unit at Central 12 retail park, is due to be decided at Sefton Council’s Planning Committee meeting at Bootle Town Hall next Wednesday (7th February 2024).
Sefton planning officers are advising councillors to give their backing to the scheme, which has had a mixed response from people.
Many support the desire to transform a vacant unit which has been empty for many years, which will create a number of new jobs and attract more visitors to Central 12.
Some local residents living nearby have raised concerns over added noise and traffic and other issues. Objections have been received by 33 individual local residents, and a petition with 33 signatures has been submitted,
The new restaurant would be the third McDonald’s outlet in Southport, joining others at Ocean Plaza retail park and on Scarisbrick New Road, near Kew retail park.
The proposed opening hours are 6am to 11pm, a reduction from the 24 hours a day originally sought.
In his report to councillors, Sefton Council Chief Planning Officer Derek McKenzie said: “Unit 11 comprises 424 sq m of retail floor space. It was last occupied by Royal Doulton, but has been vacant for approximately 15 years.
“Despite continual marketing by the applicant, they have been unable to secure a retail user for the premises.
“The application seeks planning permission to change the use of the unit from retail to a restaurant / hot food takeaway, the applicant has stated that the intended end user is McDonald’s.
“The site lies within an area designated as Southport Town Centre in the Sefton Local Plan. The proposal comprises a main town centre use, which is acceptable in principle subject to the consideration of other matters including vitality and viability of the shopping centre, character and appearance, living conditions of neighbouring occupiers and public health, highways and parking.”
Various alterations are proposed to the building and the site. An existing window on the front would be replaced with a new doorway for McDelivery food collections. This would be done sympathetically to be in keeping with the appearance of the existing building.
To the side of the building the applicant is proposing to erect a mesh fence and gate to enclose the area so that it is used for staff parking for 14 vehicles and servicing only.
The proposal would result in the loss of 18 standard car parking spaces nearby but would create eight new disabled spaces resulting in a net loss of 10 spaces. Any overspill parking would be accommodated in the wider shared use car park.
The new venture, if planning permission is granted, would be situated inside the former Royal Doulton shop at Unit 11 at the site, next door to Costa Coffee and Mountain Warehouse, which has been vacant since the Royal Doulton china shop closed in the early 2000s.
Central 12 was bought in a deal believed to be worth £27 million in May 2023 by LCP, part of M Core.
LCP has been eager to revitalise the park and attract new national retailers to fill any empty units.
Discount retailer B&M has already opened a new shop at Central 12, creating 30 jobs.
LCP is also in the process of taking over the operation of the car park at Central 12 so they can invest in its development “to make it more attractive to existing and new businesses and a more diverse customer base”.
The 13-unit Central 12 shopping park, located on Derby Road, close to Southport Railway Station, is anchored by an ASDA superstore. It comprises 162,143 sq ft of open convenience retail with retailers including Poundland, The Range, Boots and Next.
The site also has a car park for 636 vehicles.
It was previously home to the Southport Steamport museum.