Road widening row at new Tim Horton’s site in Motherwell

A Canadian coffee chain has stirred up controversy by seeking permission to open its new drive-through in Motherwell months before it makes road alterations North Lanarkshire Council ordered it to carry out in advance.

In 2018 Tim Horton’s received planning permission to build an outlet in Windmillhill Street but completion of this has been hampered by the pandemic so the company is now seeking permission to postpone changes to Knowetop Avenue for up to four months after the branch – which is expected to create 50 jobs – opens.

The original conditions attached to the previous planning permission required widening of the roadway at Knowetop Avenue to accommodate two distinct lanes on the approach to its junction with Windmillhill Street, in interest of public safety and traffic flow.

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Local councillor Nathan Wilson (Motherwell South East and Ravenscraig) says this request should be denied as allowing the drive-through to open without these road alterations being in place would be unacceptable.  He is calling on nearby residents to share their views via North Lanarkshire Council’s website prior to the consultation cutoff date of Tuesday, December 15.

Councllor Wilson said: “I was dismayed to learn that an application has been submitted to the council with the intention of kicking the important road widening works at Knowetop Avenue into the long grass.

“I urge all local people who have concerns about this latest development to make your views known through the council’s formal planning process and object to the proposals for a potential four month delay.”

Another councillor in the same ward, Agnes Magowan, added:  “When planning permission was requested for a new drive through doughnut fast food outlet in Windmillhill Street 77 objections from local councillors and residents were lodged.

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“Unfortunately they were not heeded and planning permission was granted to allow an unhealthy fast food restaurant opposite Knowetop Primary School in a very congested and dangerous area of Motherwell.

“Now Tim Horton’s have added fuel to the fire by requesting to reschedule the implementation of approved road widening works so that the works will be completed within four months of the use commencing.”

Councllor Magowan added that she was receiving numerous phone calls and emails from nearby constituents,  especially the families of children attending Knowetop Primary and Our Lady’s High School.  She is also objecting to an application for a late hours catering licence from 11pm to 5am on the grounds of proximity to residences, noise and light pollution.

Kevin Hydes, Chief Commercial Officer for Tim Hortons UK & Ireland, commented: “We were granted planning permission for the Tim Hortons Drive Thru, subject to planning conditions and we have sought to comply with all of these conditions during the process of the development.

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“However, 2020 has been no ordinary year, COVID-19 and the impact this has had upon our business and the development in Motherwell has been significant. For many months, we were unable to commence construction, we were faced with highways embargos and of course we have been dependent on third party utility companies who have also faced similar challenges.

“The hospitality industry presently finds itself on its knees and we have not been immune to the challenges of operating a safe restaurant business.

“In Motherwell, we have recruited and trained 50 employees from the local community and unfortunately it has come to the point whereby we have had to make a decision to either delay the opening or to move forward and open the restaurant.”

“The economic impact of a further delay would unfortunately cost peoples’ jobs at Christmas time and as a responsible employer we plan to open the restaurant before Christmas.”

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“We have, and continue to work with North Lanarkshire Council officers with regards to meeting the planning conditions in a timely manner.”

Stressing that Tim Hortons is working closely with the council, Mr Hydes added: “We are fully committed to completing all works as soon as it is physically possible, building a safe new restaurant facility for the local community to enjoy and providing job opportunities for many local residents at the end of what has been a very challenging year.”

A North Lanarkshire Council spokesperson said:  “The planning application to extend the timescale for road works to be carried out will be considered by the planning service, in line with statutory regulations.

“A recommendation will then be presented to the Planning Committee for a decision; this is likely to be in January 2021. Members of the public can comment on the application via the council’s website up until December 15.”

The planning consultation can be found on the council website under the reference number 20/01354/S42.

Neil McGrory , Local Democracy Reporting Service

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