Demolition of The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s

STOP the Fat Clown

STOP the Fat Clown

planning ref: 13/00512/FULPP

planning meeting: 7pm Wednesday 9 October 2013

The committee has unfortunately been presented with an extremely one-sided, biassed agenda, that reads as a PR promotional exercise for McDonald’s.

590 objections, several thousand sign a petition. Are these people to be ignored? Is not the role of the committee to act as what the local community see as best for the town?

Cogent detailed well argued cases, not included in the Agenda, their views reduced to isolated sound bites.

The Council has even gone to the expense, at a time of austerity and massive spending cuts, of seeking legal advice, on not complying with local and national planning policy!

Much is often made of gateways into towns and their importance. Do we really wish the image of Farnborough as people pass through to be a McDonald’s Drive-Thru? Or maybe it is a true refection of what a dump the town has become thanks to decades of bad planning decisions.

Historical and architectural value

The Turley report is not worth the paper it is written on. It would not pass muster as a schoolchild’s report.

Friends of the Tumbledown Dick have carried out out a far more comprehensive study. It does not even merit a mention.

That English Heritage have not listed The Tumbledown Dick does not mean the building lacks merit. They only list a representative sample, and already have a large number of pubs listed.

It is listed as a local building of historical importance, because it meets the criteria for listing, and all buildings that meet the criteria must be listed.

Closure and disrepair

Environmental health found potential breaches. They did not find any actual breaches.

Sustainable development

By no stretch of the imagination can demolition of an old pub, one of the few heritage buildings left in Farnborough, recognised by its local listing as a building of local historical importance, destruction of a once viable and popular music venue, to be replaced by an eyesore, a Drive-Thru McDonald’s, a blot on the landscape, that will peddle unhealthy food, that will worsen already dire local health statistics, in particular obesity, that will drain money out of the local economy, that will generate traffic, that will cause congestion and pollution, lead to an increase in CO2 emissions, can be described as sustainable development.

Draining money out of the local economy is not redevelopment.

That the building is in derelict state, is entirely due to wilful neglect by the current owners and the refusal of Rushmoor to take enforcement action. That the building is in a derelict state, cannot be used as a reason to support demolition of the building for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

Low paid, part-time, zero-hours jobs, does nothing to enhance the vitality of the local economy.

Planning policies pursued to date, far from leading to a robust retail environment within the town centre, have seen the town centre all but destroyed.

To claim The Tumbledown Dick is closed therefore not contributing to the community is misleading. It has been kept closed. There are those able and willing to bring it back into use.

It is nonsense to suggest the need provided by The Tumbledown Dick is met elsewhere, is not true. The Tumbledown Dick would be community owned, it would be an arts and cultural venue, it would provide a venue for live music, meeting spaces, recycle money within the local community.

To claim a Drive-Thru McDonald’s provides community space is a sick joke. A fast food restaurant is designed for fast throughput, not somewhere convivial for people to meet.

Both Islington and Cambridge have excellent pub protection policies in place, as unlike Rushmoor they care about their heritage. Such a policy is required by national planning policy, why therefore has such policies been dismissed out of hand? Cambridge has already saved several pubs.

Were Rushmoor to have such a policy in place, the Tumbledown Dick would not be under threat.

The excellent Cambridge policy requires the pub to be put on the market as a pub, and to be free of pubco ties.

Asset of Community Value

The local planning authority may consider ACV when determining a planning application. May, is not to be interpreted as ignore.

If the planning application is rejected, the sale falls through (as conditional on planning approval). The local community would then have the right to buy were the property to be put on the market.

The community should be granted this opportunity. This would then safeguard the building, bring it back into community use. The McDonald’s application does neither.

The council has had unequivocal legal advice … in other words bullshit. A meaningless statement.

Has this been tested in Court? No.

Why is the Council even seeking legal advice (at cost to the local taxpayer)?

Why is the Council seeking legal advice to push something through on behalf of a developer?

Publish the legal advice as an addendum to the Agenda. It is not acceptable, legal advice which influences a planning decision, is not published.

This is like David Cameron refusing to publish the legal advice on an attack on Syria. War criminal Tony Blair did the same with the illegal war on Iraq.

Caroline Lucas MP made a formal request that the legal advice on Syria be published in full. Her request was refused. That she made the request and it was refused, was not reported by the media.

It is nonsense to say site sitting empty is having a bad impact on the town. A Drive-Thru would have far worst impact on the town. And if the impact on the town is so bad, then why not serve a Compulsory Purchase Order, then hand to a local community group to run?

Building of Local Historical Importance

The best way to save heritage buildings, is to find a use. There is a use, as a pub, as a community arts venue, as a live music venue.

Demolishing a heritage building does not safeguard it.

The Tumbledown Dick is locally listed as a building of local historical importance. The policy approved by Council, does not permit demolition. To approve demolition, not only would destroy local heritage, it would also be to act contrary to the local policy.

Retaining the façade, does not safeguard the building. It would lead to the demolition of the oldest parts of the building. Even the façade is not being retained, as the windows are to be destroyed.

The poor state of repair of the building is due to wilful neglect by the owners Bride Hall and the refusal of the Council to take enforcement action. Poor state of repair (that has resulted from wilful neglect) cannot be used as grounds for demolition.

The building may not represent anything out of the ordinary for its period, but for Farnborough, it is all that remains of the period.

But this is to ignore one simple fact. It has been recognised of sufficient merit to justify a local listing, and such local listed buildings cannot be demolished, as to do so would be contrary to the policy. And if the building were to be demolished, it would make a mockery of the policy, as what point would there be to list (which is to provide protection), if at such time such a listed building comes under threat (as does The Tumbledown Dick for demolition for a Drive-Thru) the protection afforded by listing is to then simply be ignored?

Visual impact on the area

Even derelict, and boarded up, the visual impact of The Tumbledown Dick is preferable to a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. And there is no reason to claim it would remain in that state, were the local community permitted to exercise the right to buy.

To claim looking at the site from Sainsbury’s car park it is an eyesore, has to be seen as a sick joke. Is not the entire town centre an eyesore, especially the ugly buildings thrown up by St Modwen and to come, the ugly Premier Inn to be thrown up by Bride Hall?

One reason people are so passionate to save The Tumbledown Dick is because they say hate the ugly town centre and they now wish to save what little of value is left.

But it would be correct to say, an ugly Drive-Thru McDonald’s would be a symptomatic of all what is wrong with Farnborough.

Local residents have already stated a Drive-Thru McDonald’s would lead to a deterioration of their quality of life. The Tumbledown Dick, did not impact on local residents.

What is more relevant, local residents saying what is the impact on their quality of life, or arrogant planning officials who claim they know better?

Traffic and car parking

Dining area for 202 people, plus outdoor dining. Assume two people per car, that is over one hundred cars when busy.

It is claimed a busy main road will mask the noise created by a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. Now we are told the road is not so busy and tail backs onto the road will not occur. We are also told no tail backs at Farnborough Gate.

The traffic peak time late afternoon on this stretch of highway is either not moving or walking pace. Into this will feed a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

The tailback from Farnborough Gate at peak times backs onto the A325, then backs down the slip road of the Blackwater Valley road.

The doctor surgery across the road had an extension refused on the grounds of traffic generation onto the same stretch of road. Insignificant compared with a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

The doctor surgery has expressed concern at restricted access for emergency vehicles.

Committee members expressed their concern at a development on Victoria Road (opp Kingsmead) on grounds of traffic generation.

The Premier Inn, Beefeater Grill, will generate extra traffic onto this junction.

The number of car parking spaces for the Drive-Thru McDonald’s does not meet local planning policy.

Customers will use the car parks in Kingsmead. This is to miss the entire point that this is a Drive-Thru!

The only reason there is spare car parking capacity in the town centre is because of previous bad planning decisions that have led to the trashing of the town centre and it is a destination few choose to visit.

Health and well-being

Locally perform very badly on health statistics, especially on obesity.

Health Profile for Rushmoor carried out by Public Health England last month:

– 2,600 children in the Borough live in Poverty
– In Year 6 children, 18.5% are classified as obese which is significantly above the – national average
– GCSE attainment is significantly below the national average
– Violent crime is significantly above the national average
– Obese adults are above the national average

Health is a material planning consideration. At least one school is within the zone which national planning policy does not permit fast food outlets.

Rather than care about the health of the local population, legal advice sought to see if can be ignored. Head of planning must have a bent ruler as claims school is further away than it actually is.

Aside from whether or not the Drive-Thru McDonald’s would be within the non-permitted zone of St Peter’s School, it is not going to improve the local health statistics.

Local doctors and a retired naval surgeon have objected on health grounds.

Two headmistresses of local schools have raised objections on health grounds:

Primary School Head Teachers objected – Mrs Sue Harris, Pinewood Infants and Mrs S Masters, Fernhill Primary. Both teachers eloquently stated how they are striving to help their school children understand healthy eating and that this undermines that, plus one of them mentioned the soft play centre and how it would encourage poor eating and less interactions within families. They both also mentioned traffic.. in fact EVERYONE mentioned traffic!!

Crime and disorder

Drive-Thru McDonald’s act as a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

The police objected to extension of Farnborough Gate to 24 hours on grounds of anti-social behaviour.

Metropolitan Police objected to a Drive-Thru McDonald’s near Croydon on grounds of anti-social behaviour.

Climate change and CO2 emissions

The country has set a target of 80% carbon reduction.

This is not achieved by approving a Drive-Thru McDonald’s which by its very business model is a traffic generator.

Cars are at their worst polluting when sat with the engine idling or slow moving.

Cars will be queuing at the Drive-Thru, causing additional traffic congestion and gridlock on the A325.


The committee must do the right thing by the local community and REJECT this planning application for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

There are more than sufficient planning grounds on which to REJECT this planning application.

The committee must ignore the false claim ‘we will only lose at Appeal’. Similar applications REJECTED by planning authorities, have had their decisions upheld at Appeal.

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