Town McDonald's closure a chance to 'reinvigorate' area

Windows were being boarded up at the former McDonald's restaurant in Lowestoft town centre on Friday, April 23.

Windows were being boarded up as the former McDonald's restaurant in Lowestoft town centre continued to be emptied on Friday, April 23. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

The departure of McDonald's from a town centre could be the “focal point” for an ambitious regeneration.

That was the view of Waveney MP Peter Aldous a week on from the closure of the former McDonald’s restaurant on London Road North.

Having been in Lowestoft town centre for more than 35 years, the branch closed a day after a drive-through restaurant for the fast food chain opened at Kirkley Rise.

A remaining McDonald's sign at the former restaurant, which had been in Lowestoft town centre for 35 years.

A remaining McDonald's sign at the former restaurant, which had been in Lowestoft town centre for 35 years. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

With East Suffolk Council liaising with Lowestoft Vision and the agent over the vacant building, they aim “to ensure its future use aligns with the vision we have for Station Square,” as part of the Lowestoft Town Centre Masterplan.

Last month the council approved the development of full business cases for projects in Lowestoft’s £24.9m Towns Fund bid, with five projects sharing this sum - including a refresh of the Station Quarter.

A CGI image produced for the Lowestoft Masterplan for what the Station Quarter area could look like.

A CGI image produced for the Lowestoft Masterplan for what the Station Quarter area could look like. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL - Credit: East Suffolk Council


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Mr Aldous said: "It is a source of regret.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous. - Credit: Peter Aldous

"But as part of the Towns Fund bid there is the Station Quarter project, and now McDonald's have relocated this building needs to be a focal part of those plans.

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"I think its an opportunity to reinvigorate the whole of that Station Quarter to create a very attractive area."

A CGI image produced for the Lowestoft Masterplan for what the Station Quarter area could look like.

A CGI image produced for the Lowestoft Masterplan for what the Station Quarter area could look like. - Credit: East Suffolk Council

A McDonald’s spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear that the closure of our London Road North restaurant may have caused some disappointment with our customers.

The McDonald’s relocation notice greeting people in Lowestoft town centre. Picture: Mick Howes

The McDonald’s relocation notice greeting people at the former restaurant in Lowestoft town centre. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

"The decision to close the restaurant was not taken lightly."

According to the Lowestoft Town Investment Plan, vacancy rates in the town centre were at over 20pc in September 2020.

Among these empty properties are the former Argos store, Lowestoft’s post office, the former Tesco Metro store and department stores Beales and Palmers.

The former Argos store, next to the former McDonald's restaurant, in Lowestoft town centre.

The former Argos store, next to the former McDonald's restaurant, in Lowestoft town centre. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

The former Palmers department store remains vacant in Lowestoft town centre.

The former Palmers department store remains vacant in Lowestoft town centre. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

Lowestoft’s former post office in the town centre remains empty.

Lowestoft’s former post office in the town centre remains empty. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

The former Tesco Metro store remains an empty property in Lowestoft town centre.

The former Tesco Metro store remains an empty property in Lowestoft town centre. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

The former Westgate/Beales department store, remains vacant in Lowestoft town centre.

The former Westgate/Beales department store, remains vacant in Lowestoft town centre. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

Approval for the McDonald’s drive-through restaurant at Kirkley Rise was granted by the former Waveney District Council – now East Suffolk Council – in September 2018.

Planning documents highlighted “concerns” at the time over "what would happen to the existing McDonald’s located within the town centre.”

Responding back then McDonald’s said: “The future of the existing store is independent from the result of this application as each restaurant operates within its own market.

“There are numerous examples of drive-through restaurants operating in a similar juxtaposition in towns and cities across the country”.

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