MORE than 500 residents have now backed the fight to stop a KFC drive-through opening in Laindon.
Campaigners against the controversial proposals to build the fast food restaurant on the former Laindon Hotel site, in High Road, handed in the petition to Basildon Council.
Developers Laindon Holdings first submitted plans for a 24- hour takeaway at the beginning of 2012, but it was turned down by Basildon Council over concerns about traffic, noise and litter.
Proposals, with revised opening times, resurfaced months later and after they too were rejected the firm lodged an appeal.
Planning inspector Isobel McCretton upheld the council’s decision in May on the grounds the design and appearance of the restaurant was not suitable for the residential area.
But the developers aren’t going away.
So Bob Taylor, 66, of Bedford Road, began door-knocking neighbours and handing out leaflets to gather support as soon as Laindon Holdings submitted its latest application earlier this month.
He said: “The support has been incredible, to get 500 signatures is amazing. It has brought out the community spirit in everyone.
“We just hope it puts some weight behind our fight. We have had a lot of practice with petitions now because this has been going on so long.
“Lots of people have thanked me for putting in all the legwork.
Everyone I have spoken to is against the drive-through, but because they work, it is difficult for them to actively do anything about it.”
The campaigners are now planning to start a second petition online to reach even more residents.
John Scarola, Labour councillor for Laindon Park, added: “There are no KFCs in this country in a residential area like this, they are all in retail parks or shopping centres.
“There is no reason why they should be building it there.
“If this goes ahead it will be a nightmare. There will be chaos with the smells, the noise, boy racers, rats. It will be a disaster for the area.
“Everyone is against it. They are appalled it has come up again. The residents would be happy to have a new health centre there or even houses instead.”
If the KFC plans are given the go-ahead, Essex franchise Kefco Sales will operate the restaurant and takeaway.
They have been in consultation with Laindon Holdings throughout the two year application process, and insist the latest plans should ease concerns.
A spokeswoman said: “KFC can be a positive addition to any community, and we always try to be a good neighbour.
“We’ve responded to issues raised in Basildon and our amended application includes a different style of building and state of the art systems to eliminate any cooking odours.
“We are delighted to be part of the Essex-wide litter prevention campaign the Cleaner Essex Group working in partnership with other businesses and Essex County Council.
“We are also happy to work closelywith Basildon residents to ensure any other issues are addressed."