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McDonald's Whitfield wants only 15 parking spaces after customer habits change

Bosses of a McDonald's want to cut the number of parking spaces because fewer customers are eating in.

They say more customers at the Whitfield branch are now using its drive-thru takeaway and delivery services rather than sitting inside the restaurant.

Customers in cars going to the McDonald's drive-through. Picture: Sam Lennon KMG
Customers in cars going to the McDonald's drive-through. Picture: Sam Lennon KMG

They have now put in an application to reduce its parking spaces at the Sandwich Road site from 22 to 15.

A letter to Dover District Council's planning department from agents Planware said: "During and since the pandemic McDonald's has experienced a direct shift in a way that the restaurant operates, with a large increase in sales within the drive through lane and deliveries.

"Since 2016 there has been a large decrease of in-store customers, which has seen an increase of over 20% in the drive thru trade.

"It is therefore important that the necessary improvements can be made to the layout of the store to ensure the flow of traffic is retained in and around the site."

The planning application also includes changes to kerb lines and an island for signage.

Mr Rajaseelan outside the McDonald's restaurant. Picture: Sam Lennon KMG
Mr Rajaseelan outside the McDonald's restaurant. Picture: Sam Lennon KMG

Whitfield Parish Council supports the application saying this could help solve the current problem of traffic congestion on the neighbouring Whitfield roundabout and Sandwich Road.

Kent County Council's highways department says the reduction in parking spaces is acceptable.

Its letter to DDC adds: "The proposed changes to the drive through element will increase the ability of vehicles to pass more efficiently through the site and reflects the change in dining habits."

But Kanagaratnam Rajaseelan, managing director of the neighbouring Whitfield Service Station, is against the scheme fearing it will cause traffic problems.

He said: "This is a concern to the operation of the service station.

'We take our responsibility as a good neighbour seriously...'

"This is because with changes being undertaken to the access road, McDonald's customers who cannot use its car park will have to park in Sandwich Road and Archers Court Road."

There is an access road between the two businesses and Mr Rajaseelan says there is a problem with parking there caused by delivery and refuse trucks and cars that deliver McDonald's orders to customers at home.

He said: "It is a problem as it blocks the free access to the service station."

Mr Rajaseelan stressed his business needed to be safeguarded as it is expanding, with a new car wash planned.

In response to Mr Rajaseelan's concerns, a spokesman for McDonald's said: "We take our responsibility as a good neighbour seriously. Over the last 18 months we have seen an increase in the number of customers opting to use the drive through.

"Since we reopened our restaurant following Covid we have been operating a temporary solution.

"Our proposals are designed to speed up service through the drive through, increasing capacity and reducing the impact we have on adjacent roads.”

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