Decision on Starbucks project in Bridgwater postponed

CAFÉ lovers in Bridgwater will have to wait a little longer to see if a new drive-thru will open in their town.

WM Morrisons Supermarkets plc requested the construction of a drive-thru cafe service in the northeast corner of the car park of their existing store on The Broadway.

The outlet will be occupied by Starbucks as part of a plan to “rejuvenate underused areas” of the parking lot, creating up to 15 full-time jobs.

Sedgemoor District Council’s Development Committee was due to approve the plans at its meeting in Bridgwater on Thursday morning (February 10).

However, councilors ultimately voted to postpone a decision until more information was provided on the outlet’s impact on air pollution, anti-social behavior and existing businesses in the centre- city.

If approved, the new outlet will be built in the north east corner of the car park, which faces Broadway near the junction with the A38 Taunton Road.

In addition to the drive-thru lane, customers will have the choice of outdoor seating, with the outlet open daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. (including Sundays and public holidays).

Ollie Thomas, representing the applicant, told the committee: “The proposed development is located in a suitable location on a brownfield site. This will support the continued viability and vitality of downtown Bridgwater. »

Councilor Kathy Pearce – whose Bridgwater Westover ward includes the site – spoke out strongly against the plans, arguing they run counter to council’s efforts to tackle climate change.

She said: “We should plan new developments in such a way as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We should be encouraging people to walk, cycle and use public transport rather than drive – and I don’t understand how that meets those requirements.

“This app is presented to us as a drive-thru – therefore it will increase carbon emissions. Morrisons already has a cafe so I don’t see how presenting this as a drive-thru won’t increase carbon emissions.

Councilor Bill Revans added: ‘The officer made reference to the beneficial impact on the town center – which raised my eyebrows a bit.

“In my view this will stop people walking into the town center from Morrisons and using the town center shops.

“I’m surprised Broadway isn’t an area of ​​air pollution concern, given the amount of traffic and the impact of Hinkley Point C.”

Somerset County Gazette: Proposed location of the Starbucks Drive Thru Outlet in the parking lot of the Bridgwater Morrisons store.  CREDIT: Whittam Cox Architects.  Free to use for all BBC partners.

Planning officer Dawn de Vries responded that the Broadway was “not in an air quality problem area at this time.”

She added: ‘This will be an ancillary facility for those already visiting Morrisons. If you are visiting Morrisons by car you are not going to drive into the town center but there are pedestrian links here so you can.”

Councilor Tony Heywood – who represents the nearby borough of Bridgwater Eastover – argued the new drive-thru would add to existing problems of anti-social behavior and ‘boy racers’, leading to a lower quality of life for nearby residents.

He said: “We have significant problems in city center car parks with anti-social behaviour.

“Even when the supermarket is closed, it’s a useful place for people to congregate, and when it’s open, it’s a place for people to dump their trash.”

Councilor Alistair Hendry, on the other hand, said concerns about pollution, litter and anti-social behavior were largely unfounded.

He said: “The McDonald’s drive-thru people [on The Clink] grab their coffees and leave – what they do after that is out of our control. Starbucks would be exactly the same.

“What is the difference in air pollution outside a McDonalds and a Starbucks? Male runners can’t do their thing around Morrisons so easily, as it’s a narrow entrance near the gas station.

A motion to approve the plans narrowly failed five to six, with two councilors abstaining.

The committee then decided, by a margin of eight to five, to defer its decision until more information had been provided by the claimant on how the plans would affect air quality, incivility and downtown vitality.

The board did not say how soon the plans will come back to the committee.

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