Town McDonald's closure a chance to 'reinvigorate' area
- 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.
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.
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Mr Aldous said: "It is a source of regret.
"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 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 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.
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”.