Starbucks drive-thru double blow

Thursday July 22nd 2021


Fisherrow service station which lies at the entrance to Musselburgh.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Petrol station owners have been dealt a double blow after they were refused permission for a drive-thru coffee shop and ordered to cut their grass at the same time.

A 24/7 drive-thru, expected to be taken on by Starbucks, was proposed at Fisherrow service station which lies at the entrance to Musselburgh.

However it was rejected this week, three years after it was first put forward, after East Lothian Council’s planners said it would lead to the loss of green space at the gateway into the town.

And the local authority added insult to injury by giving site owners The Motor Fuel Group, one month to cut the grass on land earmarked for the drive-thru after it was branded “unkempt”.

In a report to council, planning officers said:

“If the grass is not cut and remains overgrown, a notice requiring proper maintenance of the land will be served requiring the grassed areas to be cut to a short mown appearance with the period of compliance being one month.”

Coffee chain Starbucks had long been speculated to be planning to open in the drive-thru if approved.

However Musselburgh and Inveresk Community Council told planners that it had received objections from local residents to the plans, with the biggest concern the fact it would be built on open space enjoyed by locals.

The petrol station sits at the entrance into the town centre coming from Edinburgh and has a large triangular grass area in front of the forecourt.

In total 12 objections were received ranging from the loss of the grassed area to concern over additional traffic at an already near capacity junction.

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Throwing the plans out, officers ruled the loss of amenity would be detrimental to the community.

And they warned the owners that unless the grass area was returned to previously maintained standards action would be taken.

In the officers’ report to council, it said that up until 2018 the site had been well maintained and kept in good condition by site owners.

However it said that recent approaches by the community council to the owners requesting the grass was cut had been declined because of the ongoing planning application.

Planning officers said: “This site is important to the landscape character and amenity of the area and when the grassed area is being maintained it adds to the quality of the urban environment of this part of Musselburgh.

“At the time of writing this report the amenity of the area is being adversely effected by the overgrown and unkempt condition of the site”

The Motor Fuel Group have been approached for comment.

In 2019, Midlothian councillors rejected a planning application for a Starbucks and KFC at Hardengreen, Dalkeith. It was rejected for two main reasons; the impact on the vitality and viability of Dalkeith and Bonnyrigg town centres and the impact of the proposal on Eskbank roundabout.

The developer subsequently appealed to The Scottish Government reporter who upheld the appeal and as a consequence planning permission for both restaurants was granted. The development is now close to completion, albeit it is now to be a Starbucks and a Greggs.

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