Alex Sobel MP Response to 22/05396/FU 4 Otley Road 13th September 2022
1) The proposed placement of the Mcdonald’s is in the centre of the current route of the Otley Run, a renowned bar crawl that has increased dramatically in popularity over recent years. The negative effects of the Otley Run are already being felt by residents and businesses in Headingley and requires ongoing commitment from the Safer Leeds team at Leeds City Council and the Police, who are already struggling for resource. The run also means a unique drinking culture in Headingley, with the presence of waves of intoxicated groups from much earlier in the day. That means that the relatively early closing time of 11pm (compared with much later in the city centre branches) is unlikely to stave off anti-social behaviour and congregations of intoxicated individuals on the footpath.
2) Headingley centre does not fit the profile of any other Leeds Mcdonald’s restaurant. Notwithstanding the city centre, the other outlets are either situated within retail parks or superstores (Owlcoates Shopping Centre, Asda Pudsey Superstore, West Side Retail Park, Business Park Centre 27, Cardigan Fields Leisure Park, White Rose Shopping Centre, Acorn Business Centre, Colton Retail Park) or off major four lane highways (Ring Road/ Butt Lane, Ring Road West Park, Elland Road M621, Dewsbury Road Morley, Easterly Road). These outlets all have ample parking and are well away from dense residential populations. There are no Mcdonald’s currently in any Leeds ‘village’ high street.
3) Headingley Lane into Otley Road suffers from serious congestion problems, with northbound traffic often backed up from 3pm onwards and can reach as far back as Hyde Park corner, 1km away. These long-established problems would only be exacerbated with a Mcdonald’s take away outlet being situated right at the point of the bottleneck.
4) There are no plans for onsite parking within the application. There are limited parking spaces within Headingley Centre and whilst there are parking restrictions within residential streets, there is currently little capacity to enforce illegal parking on the scale that a Mcdonald’s take away would bring. Whilst I applaud the outlets commitment to providing for cycling customers, the idea that this will be the main mode of transport used to reach the restaurant is fanciful.
5) There is no current need for another fast-food outlet within Headingley. There are currently several other fast-food chains within the nearby Arndale Centre which amply provides for the market and provides indoor seating. These include KFC, Nando’s and will soon include Burger King. Independent take away outlets such as I Am Doner, currently situated just over the road from the new site would be heavily impacted. McDonald’s already have a site in Lawnswood.
6) Mcdonald’s has a reputation for antisocial behaviour and fights particularly during late opening hours, with many having to employ door staff. Whilst the application currently states that the restaurant will close at 11pm, the specific drinking culture outlined in 1, would provide fertile ground for this behaviour much earlier in the day.
7) Whilst I am sure the intention is for customers to take their food well away from the premises, the likely outcome will be congregations of people on the narrow footpaths. This would be a danger both to passing pedestrians and to the customers themselves given the proximity to the road.
8) Litter is already a problem in our area, and the increased food litter associated with a new Mcdonald’s would have a detrimental impact on the local environment for residents and businesses. There is not enough street space for additional bins of the capacity needed, without impeding on pedestrians.