PLANS for a new McDonald's drive-through only five miles away from Romsey have been approved.

An application was submitted to Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to build the two-storey drive-through at the M27 Rownhams East Motorway Service Area, which could generate 20 jobs.

The proposals, tabled by Roadchef Motorways Limited, should replace the existing McDonald's in the service area's main building.

TVBC gave the plans the green light on Tuesday, April 27, according to a document submitted by the local authority.

Commenting on the plans being approved, a spokesperson from Roadchef said: “We are very pleased to have received approval for our plans to install a new McDonald’s drive-through at our Rownhams motorway service area.

"We are looking forward to progressing with the development over the next few months, bringing valuable investment and jobs to the local community.”

This comes after a community leader slammed the plans, claiming it flies in the face of the Government's anti-obesity message amid the coronavirus crisis.

Liberal Democrat Celia Dowden criticised the plans, believing the fast food restaurant contradicts the Government's national campaign launched in July 2020 urging Britons to lose weight.

The campaign, unveiled as part of the Government’s Obesity Strategy, encourages people to kick-start their health in a bid to reduce their risk of serious illness, including COVID-19.

However, a spokesperson from Roadchef insisted the plans would allow them to introduce a brand new LEON restaurant in the service area's main building, claiming it offers "healthy fast food, superfood salads, wraps and vegan options".

Cllr Dowden said: "The creation of more and easier access to fast food outlets, such as a drive-through McDonald's, goes against the Government’s strategy of encouraging healthier eating to reduce the high levels of obesity in our society.

"This is increasingly prevalent in our young adults who are drawn towards this type of food and the impact on our health from fast food is well documented.

"We are all facing the challenges of Covid-19 and the huge impact it is having on our lives, and we need to be as strong and healthy as we can. A well-balanced diet will support us."

A spokesperson from Roadchef previously said: “The drive-through will replace the existing McDonald’s restaurant in our main building, with a menu including traditional McDonald’s favourites, as well as a range of salads, wraps, vegetarian options and sugar-free beverages.

"The plans will also support our commitment to offering road users a wide choice of high street brands by allowing the introduction of a brand new LEON restaurant in the main service area building.

"LEON offers healthy fast food, with a wide range of rice boxes, superfood salads, wraps and vegan options.

“The new plans will introduce an additional 113 parking spaces, including 9 accessible spaces, 4 for Large Good Vehicles and 24 electric vehicle charging points, helping to support the transition to green transport and bringing the total number of spaces to 267.”

As reported, plans to install a new McDonald's drive-through at the service area were withdrawn to make some revisions to an earlier design, the spokesperson confirmed.