Campaigners win ‘David and Goliath’ battle with McDonald’s

The White Bear pub site in Tingley
The White Bear pub site in Tingley

Campaigners are celebrating a “victory for people power” after a planning inspectorate ruled against one of the world’s largest fast food companies.

The final decision of a planning inquiry revealed last week that an appeal by McDonald’s to build a restaurant in Tingley had been dismissed.

Lodged for a fifth time on behalf of the fast food firm, the application outlined plans to create a two-storey restaurant and drive-thru at the White Bear pub site.

The appeal decision said the main issues with the application were the effects on nearby residents and road safety.

Coun Robert Finnigan, who spoke at the inquiry and opposed the development, said: “We are relieved more than anything because their resources are enormous and we did it on a shoestring.

“This wasn’t sleight of hand, or a magician’s trick, we persuaded the planning inspectorate that we were right. It’s a victory for people power, this is not about the council, it’s the community who came out.

“This is testament to the local community who have stayed strong and battled against the odds.

“It is like David and Goliath - how can we take on one of the most wealthy companies in the world and win? Because we were right.”

A crowd of people attended the public inquiry in March, which included representatives on behalf of McDonald’s and the opposing Rule Six party.

The latest application, lodged in 2014, was refused by Leeds City Council later that year.

Mr Finnigan added: “We have said from the start this is the wrong location for this development. It’s not that we are against McDonald’s and we’re offering help to the land owner about future uses and the same thing to McDonald’s about alternative sites.”

The planning inspector who led the inquiry, Matthew Birkinshaw, was appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government after McDonald’s lodged an appeal against Leeds City Council’s decision.

In his conclusion, Mr Birkinshaw said: “For the reasons given above, and having had regard to all other matters raised, I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.”

He ruled that the effect of the proposal on the living conditions of neighbouring residents to the site was a “main issue”.

These effects include concerns about noise and disturbance to people living nearby.

The other issue highlighted was the effect on highway and pedestrian safety.