Monday 4 December 2023

McDonalds for Mill Hill Broadway?

The proposed signage changes
Over the last few days, I've been looking with increasing incredulity at the near hysteria on local Mill Hill Facebook pages over a planning request to change the signage on the former Prezzo site, to an illuminated sign for a branch of McDonalds. I find myself in the rather strange position of feeling compelled to write a blog defending McDonalds. This is not because I ever eat the stuff, I don't and I doubt this will be changed by the opening of a McDonalds in Mill Hill, but because of just how ridiculous many of the comments are. There have been claims such as that it will be the end of Mill Hill Broadway, that it will lead to a rise in anti social behaviour and that marauding gangs of drug dealers will set up checkpoints to ensure only scalliwags can enter Mill Hill (actually I made the last one up, but you get my drift). So far there have been 143 comments, 138 objecting and five supporting

The site in question

So what will the problems be? I suspect that McDonalds primarily see the outlet as a hub for Deliveroo etc, so we will see even more scooters in and around the spot, which already has rather a lot for the two Pizza outlets. These are annoying and cause nuisance, I would love to see the Council put some sort of restrictions on these, to make them less of a problem, but that is nothing to do with a planning permission for a change of signage. 

It seems to me very likely that the main source of income from the sit in side will be local teenagers, the kids, grandkids, nephews and neices of the very people writing these comments. The sort of kids who currently have nowhere to go in Mill Hill to meet their mates that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. But is this a problem? I run a business that has  lot of teenage customers and to be honest, often they are nicer than some of the adults, who have forgotten that the words 'please' and 'thank you exist. Personally, I have to wonder what sort of person really sees teenagers meeting their mates as a problem, I daresay they've forgotten they were teenagers once.

I daresay that there will be more litter in the Broadway. I'd love to see Barnet Council have the powers to make such outlets clean up the mess they generate, but that is not the job of the planning committee. In fact it is really the job of the parents of the kids to instill in their kids that litter is not acceptable. 

And the positives?

Whilst the food served by McDonalds is hardly healthy, it is cheap and when household budgets are in crisis, maybe it will provide an option to get out of the house and have a coffee with friends for people who simply cannot afford the prices in some more upmarket cafe's on the Broadway.

In truth, I happen to think a lot of people objecting are simply complete snobs, who look down their noses at people they consider less well to do, without realising that largely the customers will be the younger members of their own families. I well recall the excitement when the first McDonalds opened in Golders Green. Then there were queues and traffic chaos, until everyone got over the novelty. 

To summarise, the vast majority of objections have nothing to do with what is actually being applied for. As such they will have no impact on anything. The new restaurant serves a section of the Mill Hill population that is chronically underserved (teenagers and people on low budgets). McDonalds may not be the most tasteful of companies when it comes to signage, but will be no worse than the chicken shop up the road. It will be a big improvement on a derelict looking empty space.

I was thinking about when I personally would ever use such a place. When I used to work in the City, finish late, get stuck on a non moving Thamesllink train and get back home, wanting to grab a bite to eat and a coffee on the way. There will be a fair few commuters, who it will be a quite handy place to warm up, if the bus is running late. There really is nowhere that is cheap and cheerful that you can grab a quick bite on the way home currently.

The truth is that Mill Hill had a cheapo burger joint for decades, first Wimpy, then Jennys. Since that closed a whole section of people in Mill Hill have had nowhere to go. There are many things in Mill Hill that we need to work together to improve. Sadly initiatives like the litter pickers died the death during the pandemic. The most that this campaign against McDonanlds planning application will achieve is to change the signage they put up. The building already has planning permission as a restaurant. McDonalds will still come even if they have to put different signage up. 


Anonymous said...

Obviously this person does not live in Mill Hill otherwise he wouldn't be so blase .The traffic by the roundabout is continuously grid locked and we lost so many parking spots due to street furniture .McDonald's will be the end of the broadway.

Rog T said...

Of all the comments I've had on my blog, this is, without doubt, the funniest. Some people really are clueless!

David B said...

I agree. I'm no fan of McDonald's but this outcry smacks of snobbery. Thank you for a sane and considered response.