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Wildlife Volunteers Condemn Fast Food Chain’s Revised Plan For Tice’s Meadow Site

Published on: 15 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 16 Mar, 2024

Tice’s Meadow, Tongham © Kyle Russell

By David Reading

McDonald’s revised plans for a 24-hour drive-through restaurant within the Tice’s Meadow nature reserve near Tongham have been strongly condemned by conservationists.

Volunteers who manage the nature reserve claim that the fast food chain has attempted to address three of their objections, but failed to deal with a host of others.

See also: Protest Grows Over McDonald’s Plan at Tongham Wildlife Site

The site of the proposed drive-through is within the Tice’s Meadow and Tongham Ponds site of Nature Conservation Interest, at Tongham Services off the A331 Blackwater Valley Route.

Major concerns have been raised about the negative impact the development might have on protected species and habitats in the nature reserve.

Specific worries have been raised about the increase in traffic, highway safety, light pollution, noise pollution, litter, and smells.

McDonald’s insist they are working to find a solution, saying in a statement: “We continue to liaise with both Surrey County Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust regarding our restaurant proposal and are committed to mitigating any adverse effects this may have on the wider area. Given the sensitive nature of the site, we’re taking the time to ensure due diligence is done before we submit our final reports.”

A statement from the Tice’s Meadow Bird Group (TMBG) said the revised plan attempted to address only three of their objections. These related to inappropriate development in the countryside, negative visual impact and loss of open space.

The group claimed McDonald’s had failed to address other considerations including:

Biodiversity issues; negative impact from contaminated land; smells; light pollution; air pollution; noise; flooding; “inadequate” parking; litter; and traffic and highways safety.

The TMBG also claimed that McDonald’s had failed to recognise the presence of many protected species and habitats.

The bird group is urging local residents to sign their petition and submit an objection to Guildford Borough Council by the deadline of Tuesday, March 19.

Mark Elsoffer, Secretary of the TMBG, said: “The amended planning application contains few tangible changes and in our view fails to address any of the material considerations for objection raised by ourselves and the statutory consultees.

“We are calling on our local elected officials to listen to their residents’ concerns and stand up for nature by objecting to this highly inappropriate development in the middle of a regionally important Site of Nature Conservation Interest.”

Over 5,500 people have signed the petition launched by the TMBG to protest against the plans, and Guildford Borough Council has received 137 comments from members of the public on the planning application, 133 of them objections. Various organisations including local councils have also objected.

Mr Elsoffer said: “All of our volunteers have been heartened by the wide-ranging support we’ve received from across the local community. We are determined to fight this highly inappropriate development that will blight the local nature reserves if allowed to go ahead.”

The conservation site was bought by Surrey County Council in December 2021 with funding from Hampshire County Council, Guildford Borough Council, Rushmoor Borough Council, Waverley Borough Council and Farnham Town Council.

Further information on the planning application, providing an opportunity for people to comment, can be found on this Guildford Borough Council web page:

23/P/01831 | Erection of a freestanding Restaurant with drive thru facility, car parking, landscaping and associated works, including Customer Order Displays (COD) and a play frame. (amended description 28.11.23) | Fuel Station, Blackwater Valley Road, Tongham, Guildford, GU10 1FP

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