Green light for Canadian coffee shop and restaurant chain Tim Hortons at Broadstairs Retail Park

Canadian chain Tim Hortons is heading for Westwood (Image istock)

By Local Democracy Reporter Jordan Ifield

A ‘Tim Hortons’ coffee shop/restaurant and drive-through at Broadstairs Retail Park which will create 30 full time and 40 part time jobs has been approved by Thanet council.

The Canadian food chain, launched in Ontario in 1964, began to expand to the UK in 2017. It currently has 29 venues open and more  due to open across the UK with the nearest site to Thanet currently in Thurrock.

The Thanet outlet will be the first in Kent and shares the same retail park as Tesco Extra, Currys/PC World, The Range and Wickes.

The chain offers food including doughnuts, bagels, burgers and pancakes and a variety of coffees and cold drinks.

When built the store will open between 6am and 11pm, seven days a week.

Plans had been submitted to Thanet District Council last year and the decision was taken tonight (January 19)

At a tense planning meeting councillors had mixed emotions about seeing another fast food chain come to Westwood.

Many councillors were openly concerned about the grass land Hortons would occupy with Cllr Helen Crittenden (Lab) calling the site an example of “environmental poverty”.

Another member worried about over-development was Cllr Mike Garner (Green): “My concerns are around the impact of the biodiversity and loss of trees

“Within 100 metres there is the McDonald’s which has just had an application approved to upgrade its drive-thru to three lanes which is going to increase the traffic.

“On the other side of the McDonald’s there’s a new drive-thru Starbucks that is being built, which is also going to increase traffic.

“When you add all of these together there is going to be a quite adverse affect on the air quality and traffic.”

However not all those disappointed with the application voted against it, as Cllr Rick Everitt (Lab) said the council would struggle to refuse it.

He said: “We have to consider this application on its own merits, not consider how many coffee shops are nearby. I would be concerned if we rejected this application because I think we would struggle to justify a refusal.

“What does concern me is at one point that greenery was considered a positive benefit of previous proposals, then someone else comes along and says they want to develop that piece of land. Which does make a nonsense of the whole thing.”

In an unusual step the Chairman of the planning committee, Cllr Michael Tomlinson (Cons) said the grass area had been blighted by litter for years and said he wanted to see it developed.

Eventually councillors were persuaded to approve the application, mostly by the jobs it would create in Broadstairs and voted it through.

Cllr Keith Coleman-Cooke (Cons) said: “I understand what people are saying about the grass but I think we should take into consideration that it was a huge grass area before it became Westwood.

“When we talk about people shopping there, I don’t think it’ll increase traffic because people will choose whether to go to McDonald’s, Starbucks or Hortons.

“Personally I also think 70 jobs is a lot of local jobs.”

In a statement the developers say: “Its (Tim Hortons) current focus is to expand its drive-thru model across the UK, including at the application site.

“The Tim Hortons offer is different from that provided by the likes of McDonalds, KFC and Burger King and is comparable to that provided by coffee shop operators such as Costa or Starbucks, with a substantial part of the offer comprising hot and cold beverages and bakery goods, including an extensive choice of donuts.

“The hot food offer includes paninis and ‘melts’ as well as hot sandwiches and wraps, again similar to other coffee shop operators.”

Planning officers had recommended the restaurant for approval claiming that while there would be a loss of some green space and six trees, the space was not protected and the economic benefits outweighed the environment.

To rectify this Hortons will plant 10 new trees and wildflowers around the site.