Published: 10:44, 29 January 2021
| Updated: 11:22, 29 January 2021
Ashford is to get its fourth KFC outlet - despite claims the new restaurant is "exactly what the town doesn't need".
The fast-food chain has been given the green light for a new unit on Waterbrook Park in Sevington, just off the A2070 Bad Munstereifel Road.
But residents fear the area will become blighted by rubbish as a result of the development - with one saying it has only added to her desire to move away from the town.
Planning officers at Ashford Borough Council approved the scheme last week, but had raised concerns over the look of the building, which is to be built on a brownfield site close to the Ashford International Truckstop.
They asked whether KFC could add green walls to improve the design, but the takeaway giant said it could not accept the suggested changes due to "branding and the commercial realities of operating a drive-thru".
Outline planning permission had already been granted in 2019, but the detailed ‘reserved matters’ application was what officers rubber-stamped last week.
In a comment opposing the scheme, East Brabourne resident Andrew Burgess said "there is no conceivable need for another KFC", which will join existing outlets in the Lower High Street, Beaver Road and on the Eureka Leisure Park.
"It's exactly what Ashford does not need," he said.
"At a time when people are being urged to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles, a fourth KFC that customers will have to drive to would counter all current social and health policy and advice.
"The outlet will also generate more litter in the town and the surrounding countryside that is already a major problem and getting worse."
While Finberry resident Riaan Taljaard disagreed - describing the restaurant as a "good idea and an asset" - Rosemary Sutton shared Mr Burgess' concerns over litter.
She said: "I live on Finberry and can already see the lighting from Waterbrook from my kitchen window every evening; I don't relish the prospect of the additional impact to advertise a new fast-food outlet.
"All this does is add grist to the mill of my desire to move away from Ashford.
"I've been a resident for 22 years, so not exactly a fly-by-night 'newbie'.
"Along with the lorry park development that landed without choice, this fills me with disappointment and a desire to go."
Once open, the new KFC will have indoor and outdoor seating, as well as 42 car parking spaces.
A drive-thru service will also be offered, with a 10-metre steel sign erected at the front of the unit, which will be constructed close to a yet-to-be-built warehouse linked to Amazon.
Bosses say drivers will access the site from the roundabout connecting Waterbrook Avenue to Arrowhead Road, while standard KFC rubbish bins are set to be installed for the “safe disposal of packaging”.
But another Finberry resident - Samuel Burns of Swithun Road - says his main concern is the environmental impact.
"A major issue with any fast-food restaurant (especially a drive-thru) is waste food packaging which is left behind by individuals who find it increasingly difficult to simply bin their waste," he said.
"If we look at McDonald's, which is based on the Orbital Park, it encourages waste packaging which isn't correctly disposed of.
"I have proof that some people prefer to take their fast-food away from the McDonald's car park and park up on the entrance/exit to Finberry.
"The residents of Finberry have to continuously pick waste food packaging up on a daily basis which is completely unfair."
In a report confirming the scheme's approval, ABC planning officer Mark Davies said Finberry residents "would not be directly affected or suffer any significant amenity loss".
He added: "With regards to the green roof proposal, while from a construction point of view this is achievable, the increased costs would make it commercially unviable.
"The overall corporate design of these drive-thrus is very strict with very limited scope to make changes to the external appearance, and to date, in the UK at least, none of its outlets have living walls or green roofs.
"On balance, and in the context of this particular unit and the scale and visual impact of the proposed building, I do not consider the current design is objectionable without such changes."
Mr Davies confirmed neither Highways England or Kent County Council had raised any concerns over the traffic impact of the scheme.
The approval came just days before McDonald's pulled out of plans to open a fourth restaurant in the town.