County council finds a spare field that could become a drive thru’ McDonalds and Costa on the outskirts of Soham

PUBLISHED: 21:38 08 June 2020 | UPDATED: 21:38 08 June 2020

These were the happy customers at McDonalds in Peterborough last month when it re-opened. Will customers be as happy to see a new drive thru' open in Soham? Picture; TERRY HARRIS .

These were the happy customers at McDonalds in Peterborough last month when it re-opened. Will customers be as happy to see a new drive thru' open in Soham? Picture; TERRY HARRIS .

© Terry Harris

An arms-length property company owned by Cambridgeshire County Council is to enter the fast food market with proposals for a drive thru’ McDonald’s near to a primary school in Soham.

More than 80 jobs will be created if East Cambridgeshire District Council agree both the fast food outlet and a Costa Coffee next to each other at the BP garage off the A142.

“Coming at a time when the subject of childhood obesity is such a hot potato, it is inevitable that these proposals will generate a fairly hostile reaction from some quarters,” says a letter of objection.

This Land Ltd has been funded by the county council to develop publicly owned sites across the county for housing and one of those is for 500 homes as part of the Soham Eastern Gateway.

But they say a field next to BP to the north of Soham is an ideal location for McDonald’s and Costa.

This Land says there is nowhere suitable in the town for either business and using a spare field for a drive thru “would contribute towards a strong and competitive economy”.

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However, the letter objecting to the proposal challenges from Peter Leonard- questions whether fast food outlets would threaten the town’s heritage.

“At the northern end of Soham, the Shade Common acts as a gateway to the town,” he says. “As part of the Dig for Victory campaign of WW2, the Shade Common was turned over to agriculture.

“Then, in the fog of war, the ownership of this important piece of land became embroiled in confusion and has somehow ended up in the ownership of Cambridgeshire County Council.

“Whilst this is disputed by many Soham residents, one thing is clear: whoever the legal owner of this land turns out to be, it is he who has the responsibility of maintaining and preserving it for future generations.

“The owner of this land must be regarded as its custodian. It is part of Soham’s heritage, and it must not be sold or developed in any way which will destroy the integrity of the whole”. East Cambs Council will be told that two new fast food outlets on the edge of town “will do nothing to revitalise a High Street which is already suffering from lack of investment.

“On the contrary, it will divert customers from the existing cafes, making the town centre less vibrant”.

Mr Leonard adds: “Creating the sort of zero hours contracts which are customary with big chains such as McDonalds and Costa will not compensate for the loss of proper full time jobs if and when cafes and takeaways in the centre of Soham are lost.”


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