Plans to open Headingley McDonald’s will pour “fuel on the fire” of rowdy Otley Run behaviour
McDonald’s has applied for permission to open up a new branch in Headingley’s old HSBC banl on Otley Road, which has been empty for over five years.
The fast food giant insists the impact on the surrounding area will be “minimal” and has promised to tackle any anti-social behaviour that occurs.
But 43 people have objected to the plans, including Mr Sobel, the deputy leader of Leeds City Council and other local Labour councillors.
It follows concerns raised earlier this year around a rise in anti-social behaviour linked the Otley Run pub crawl, which stretches across Headingley and Hyde Park and takes in about 15 pubs.
Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Sobel said: “I am deeply concerned by this application.
“We have a significant problem in Headingley already around the scaling up of the Otley Run and the behaviour of a minority who cause problems for local businesses, residents, bar staff and other customers.
“A McDonald’s restaurant will only add fuel to this fire, encouraging very drunk congregations on a busy high street across the afternoon and evening, creating litter and an intimidating atmosphere.
“There are no other examples in Leeds of a McDonald’s chain opening on one of our local high streets and I could not imagine a more inappropriate site than the one on the application.”
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, who is the local authority’s deputy leader and who represents Headingley and Hyde Park, called the plans “unnecessary and inappropriate”.
He said: “Unlike every other McDonald’s outside of the city centre, there are no plans for parking.
“This means that despite restrictions, cars will be parking on local residential streets and cause a real danger for other road users and pedestrians.
“On an already busy road, we will no doubt see spillage of people onto the highway and it will only be a matter of time before we are talking about serious injuries.”
The council did grant planning permission for the old bank to be converted into a “high-end” restaurant in 2019, but those proposals never materialised.
McDonald’s plans would see the diner be a “take-out” only restaurant.
In its application the company said their plans present “an excellent opportunity to bring this vacant building back into an active use”, which it suggested would “complement” the surrounding area.
The venture would also create around 80 jobs, 30 of them full-time.
McDonald’s claimed the “impacts on local amenity in terms of noise, activity and the local environment will be minimised.”
The application added: “Tackling anti-social behaviour is a key part of delivering the best possible experience for McDonald’s customers and providing a great place to work.
“McDonald’s is committed to tackling the problem of litter – indeed, it is company policy to conduct a minimum of three daily litter patrols, whereby employees pick up not only McDonald’s packaging, but also any other litter that may have been discarded in a 150m vicinity of a McDonald’s site.”
In July, Leeds City Council revealed it was starting a “targeted” crackdown on Otley Run revellers who were upsetting the local community.
The crawl is traditionally completed by university students, often in fancy dress.
But local Labour councillor Neil Walshaw told a meeting in July that Headingley was increasingly looking like “Magaluf” on weekends, because the crawl had become larger in recent years and was now attracting drinkers in their 20s and 30s.