Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s planning committee has approved an application set to bring a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain to Portadown.
The application lodged by agent Clyde Shanks on behalf of applicant SK Group UK will see a 240 m2 single storey drive-through cafe, outdoor seating, height limiter, order point kiosk, landscaping, access, parking, lighting and ancillary site works brought to lands adjacent to the Meadows Retail Park on Meadow Lane.
Tim Hortons was founded in Canada. Named after a Hockey legend it is famed for its coffee and freshly baked goods – including an extensive range of home-made doughnuts.
Taking councillors through a report which recommended the application was approved, a council planning officer told members the application was before them as it had received a high number of objections and petitions.
Members were told the application site is currently used as a car park and there will be “no loss of retail use should the application be approved”.
Members were also advised the proposed access points to the site have been heavily revised to limit the impact of potential traffic congestion in the area.
Speaking about vehicular access, Alderman Gareth Wilson said the plans showed 16 vehicles in the queue and noted that at various points in Portadown a build up of traffic is possible and asked what impact this proposal would have on traffic in the area.
The planning officer told the meeting, as long as the proposal can accommodate 15 vehicles it meets the policy and noted how the access is via Sandy Row, not Meadow Lane.
“The access to the site has been looked at in detail and that is why access is not onto the main arterial route – the scheme was designed with that in mind,” said the planning officer.
Councillor Sam Nicholson said he knows the area very well having used the area for his banking and noted how busy it can be. He then asked the engineer to provide some detail as to how they approached this design.
In response, an engineer from Clyde Shanks said it had been recognised as an issue early in the design phase and had required a series of revisions before DfI Roads were satisfied.
“We had five or six consultations with DfI Roads before we reached a satisfactory outcome,” said the engineer. “In that process the drive-through length increased and was moved to the back of the site.
“At present, drive-throughs are very popular and this one will be able to take about 32 vehicles. To address concerns about the traffic lights, the site will be accessible without going through them as customers will be able to access it via Sandy Row.”
Councillor Paul Duffy noted the drive-through lanes appear to front onto the main road, like the McDonald’s site in the vicinity and asked if there will be anything to deter pedestrians from taking a shortcut through the drive-through.
He was advised a knee high rail fence will be erected to act as a barrier preventing this.
Alderman Sydney Anderson also expressed some concern about the traffic flow and stated “I just hope there has been enough vision put into this to allow the traffic to build up on the premises as it can ill afford to back up on the road.
“It is a busy junction most of the time and if 16 extra vehicles are to exit out onto the Sandy Row side, is everyone quite happy these plans and the road network can sustain this impact.”
The planning officer answered Alderman Anderson’s question, telling the chamber it has taken a “considerable amount of time and focus”.
“At present it is an existing 60 car, car park,” said the planning officer.
“This means 60 cars could potentially come and go as they please at any time of day or night and we have no control over that.”
An engineer from Clyde Shanks also noted the site expects to accommodate 60 vehicles an hour at peak times.
“That is an extra vehicle every two minutes between the two roads,” said the engineer. “And that is assuming this is new traffic coming to the area but Tim Hortons are keen to come to this location because of the number vehicles and people in the area already.”
Councillor Peter Lavery said he was “leaning towards approval” and noted the applicant has put a “number of measures” in place to address concerns about traffic build up.
“They have done everything they can to mitigate our concerns and we should be noting and welcoming that,” he said.
Alderman Wilson said he held the same opinion as Cllr Lavery while Councillor Duffy said he would be minded to approve as well but felt the traffic lights in the area may need some adjustment to accommodate the extra traffic turning into this facility.
Alderman Sydney Anderson said he was “encouraged by the amount of effort to look at potential traffic problems” and proposed the application was approved.
This proposal was seconded by Cllr Nicholson who praised the application for being “very creative on what could have been a restrictive site” and the committee voiced its approval for this proposal.