Drive-thru restaurant in new plans for key site on main route into Wellingborough

The 'prominent gateway site' has been vacant for more than a decade and subject to several planning applications

By Stephanie Weaver
Friday, 9th April 2021, 9:00 am
The site of the proposed development in Denington Road/London Road, Wellingborough
The site of the proposed development in Denington Road/London Road, Wellingborough

A drive-thru restaurant is in the revised plans for a key site on one of the main routes into Wellingborough

Plans have been submitted for a mixed-use development at 2-10 Denington Road in the town.

If approved, the revised plans could include an autocentre with vehicle repair, MOT testing, servicing and associated operations, a drive-thru restaurant and trade/retail units.

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The proposals for the site

The 'prominent gateway site' next to the Denington Road industrial estate has been vacant for more than a decade, and been the subject of several approved applications for mixed use and class A1 retail use but none of these have been implemented.

The most recent planning permission for development on the application site just off London Road was granted in July 2020.

Documents submitted as part of the application say: "The proposal scheme which is the subject of this application is highly similar in nature to the scheme which was approved by the authority in July 2020, and retains the approved scheme’s focus on the delivery of new employment land floorspace, together with ancillary supporting other commercial uses.

"Subsequent to the granting of the permission for the July 2020 scheme, the commercial market has entered an extended period of uncertainty as a consequence of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with many operators pausing or significantly scaling back investment into new sites.

"The ongoing nature of the pandemic and associated economic downturn means that there is no certainty when confidence will return to the market, and therefore the decision has been made to progress a revised scheme, which responds to current operator interest both in the site and in Wellingborough as a location for investment.

"The revised scheme will ensure a commercially viable development can come forward on the site, bringing it into active commercial use following being vacant for over a decade.

"Whilst the scheme approved in July 2020 remains a ‘fall back’ position, the continued economic uncertainty which has arisen since the pandemic means that there is limited likelihood of this permission being implemented in the short to medium-term."

Vehicular access to the site, including to the drive-thru, would be from a new junction in Denington Road.

This would lead into a 47-space car park, incorporating blue badge spaces as well as cycle spaces.

Pedestrian access into the site is proposed via Denington Road, with pedestrian footpaths either side of the vehicular entrance, with a pedestrian-only access from London Road also proposed.

While the documents don't say who the drive-thru restaurant operator would be, the plans state: "The intended operator of the restaurant/drive-thru operate a mixture of town centre restaurants and drive-through locations across the country.

"They have considered development opportunities in Wellingborough and have established that a drive-through facility is the format for which they have an identified need in the Wellingborough area, and a town centre store would not be commercially viable.

"The intended operator consider the site to be well-placed to serve local workers, passing motorists and visitors to the existing nearby commercial uses.

"This approach also reflects commercial business decisions taken in recent years by other operators including McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks and Pizza Hut, with each of these companies’ sole representation in Wellingborough being in out-of-centre locations proximate to London Road/the A45."

If the scheme goes ahead, an estimated 69 new full/part-time employment positions would be created, as well as further jobs at construction phase.

It is anticipated that the majority of positions will be sourced from the Wellingborough area.

And with the intended operator of the restaurant/drive-thru not having any existing representation in Wellingborough or the wider north Northamptonshire area, it is likely that its entire staff and management would be recruited from the local area.

In conclusion, the planning documents say: "The development of the site represents a significant, multi-million pound investment into Wellingborough by an established developer of trade counter facilities, the majority of which are supported by complementary ancillary uses such as those proposed by this application.

"It will also result in the attraction of established national trade operators and retailers to Wellingborough at an economically challenging time, providing a ‘good news’ story for Wellingborough in the context of the wider economic downturn."

The application was submitted to Wellingborough Council, but now that the authority has been replaced by North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) from April 1, NNC will now consider the plans.