Council says fast food outlets WILL be built in Ely - despite petition to stop it gaining over 500 signatures

Impression of how Ely leisure complex will look

Impression of how Ely leisure complex will look - Credit: Archant

A statement from East Cambridgeshire District Council has said that fast food outlets, including KFC and McDonald’s, will be built in Ely - despite a petition attempting to stop it gaining over 500 signatures.

Ely is set to welcome fast food giants KFC

Ely is set to welcome fast food giants KFC - Credit: Archant

The statement, from Chairman of the Planning Committee, Joshua Schumann, said: “We do not wish to undermine any local campaign or petition but we feel it is important to set reasonable expectations about what can be achieved given the current circumstances.

“We would stress that approval for the food outlets has already been given and the choice of the companies which fill these spaces is entirely in the hands of the developer.

The Council does not and cannot get involved in this selection process and we only judge applications in terms of use, not the proposed operators involved.”

The statement comes after a petition was written up by Littleport resident and student Will Law, who believes that the fast food chains, which are due to be opened just 400 metres away from Ely College “should not be encouraged to profit from impressionable young adults.”

Law’s petition was backed by Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, who said: “There’s a well-founded concern in the school community, as shown by Will, a former pupil who set up the petition, about the impact of two more fast food outlets, particularly ones that advertise heavily, in close proximity to Ely College.”

The petition gained over 500 signatures in its first week, but the council have said that the decision to open the restaurants will not be overturned.

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Schumann said: “A number of questions have been raised following reports of the restaurant operators in the local media. It should be stressed - as it has been on social media - that planning permission has been given for the food outlets. The current applications are classed as being for minor amendments, which even if they are refused, would not prevent the outlets being built.”

He also said that representatives from the Council have agreed to meet with the campaigners to discuss the plans, but the choice of the companies which are set to fill the new space is out of their hands.

Plans for the complex were approved by councillors in April this year but had to be referred to the Secretary of State for Local Government, Greg Clark, because of their size and scale.

In June, Mr Clark gave the Government’s blessing for the leisure complex which cleared the way for developers to start working on the site.

The site will be home to two drive-thru restaurants and up to eight other food outlets, with negotiations taking place with fast food chains McDonald’s and KFC.

It is hoped that the complex will create 280 jobs in the city.

When plans were approved earlier this year, councillor Mike Rouse welcomed the complex, saying it would make Ely sustainable and encourage future growth for the city.

Councillor Tom Hunt echoed Rouse’s views, saying: “It is absolutely fantastic. It is really very exciting to see this. It will significantly improve the quality of life for residents.”

It is hoped the cinema complex will be open by the summer of 2016 at the site next to the Ely Outdoor Sports Association, opposite the college in Downham Road.