Carlisle’s planning committee is set to approve a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant on London Road, next to the listed North East Railway Goods Station, despite the proposals causing “substantial harm” to the heritage building.
McDonald’s, working with Salt Developments, is aiming to open a two-storey drive-thru on the junction of the A6 and Lindisfarne road on a one-acre plot.
It sits within the curtilage of the grade-two listed London Road NER Goods Station, a red-brick station and warehouse which was built in 1881 and designed by NER architect William Bell.
The site is historically significant as it housed the first passenger railway station in Carlisle, which opened in 1836, as a terminus of the Newcastle to Carlisle railway.
The building was first listed by Historic England in 2015.
The existing warehouse and good station is, however, currently vacant, and is described as being “in a state of severe dereliction” by Carlisle’s planners. Most recently, the site has been used for the sale of commercial vans, although it does not have planning permission for this use.
Despite the new development’s close proximity to the listed building, Carlisle Council planners have backed the proposals through the pre-application process.
According to designer Planware, the restaurant has been given a modern appearance with stone tiles and aluminium battens, “in direct contrast to the [listed] building, in order that the history can be read by future generations.”
“The scale, mass orientation and layout of the building has been orientated on site to ensure the historic significance, character and amenity setting of the area and adjacent listed building is maintained and upheld, and the development of the urban grain be easily read by future generations.”
The London Road area, one of the key routes into the centre of Carlisle, is predominately a mix of residential, commercial, and retail, with other nearby stores including Pizza Hut, Asda, and Halfords.
The 5,400 sq ft restaurant is expected to employ 35 part-time staff and 30 full-time staff.
Network Rail initially objected to the proposals, after considering it an encroachment onto the nearby railway, and issues with the levels illumination the development would generate and the possibility of this interfering with nearby railway signalling.
Following a number of design changes, including a solid southern boundary treatment to the site, Network Rail withdrew its objections.
Recommending the project for approval, Carlisle City Council’s planners said that under planning policy, building so close to the listed building would amount to “substantial harm”.
However, as McDonalds has said it will carry out stabilisation works, repair, and “limited restoration” of the listed building when it builds its drive-thru restaurant.
These works are set to include “urgent repairs” to the stonework with the entire roof set to be replaced with new timbers and slate, with hopes that the building could be used for office or commercial use in the future.
“Overall with regard to its impact on the listed building and its setting, the proposal is considered to result in “substantial harm” to the setting of the designated heritage asset,” said the planners’ report.
“However… the proposal is considered as a scheme of enabling development that would secure the future conservation of the designated heritage asset and therefore amounts to significant public benefit that would outweigh the harm and justifies a departure from policy in this instance.”
The proposals are due to be discussed on 20 July. The visual impact analysis was provided by Scurr Architects.