THE operators of a Prestwick general store have won permission for a hot food takeaway at the premises – after councillors overturned a decision made by planning officials.

South Ayrshire Council planners used 'delegated powers' legislation to turn down an application from the operators of the Keystore in Adamton Road North to be allowed to sell hot food, such as chips, burgers, fried chicken and breakfast boxes and rolls to take away.

The application sparked 46 objections from members of the public - but also attracted 169 expressions of support.

Officials said the 'partial change of use' application was "representative of an independent hot food takeaway, rather than a secondary offering to the retail use of the premises".

An initial application was refused after concerns were raised about noise - and despite a noise assessment and a list of mitigation measures, a re-application was also turned down, with planners saying it would have a detrimental impact on residents.

But at an appeal hearing councillors overturned those refusals – and criticised some of the planners' assessments.

Cllr Kenny Bell (Conservative, Troon), who chaired a 'local review body' (LRB) to hear the appeal, questioned the assessment of the hot food takeaway as being the equivalent of a standalone business.

"There is nothing to back up that it is an independent food takeaway when the evidence is clear that it is a mini market that sells other things," he said.

“I think that undermines the recommendation.”

Photographs showing parked cars outside the building had also been used by planners to back up their refusal, but Cllr Alec Clark (Independent, Girvan and South Carrick) pointed out there was a hairdresser's business next door to the shop.

On being told by the planning officer who dealt with the case that he had no information on how many of the parked vehicles were using the store, Cllr Clark replied: "It is hard to take that on board as evidence."

Cllr Clark also pointed out that some of the objections were from outwith the area, including from Grangemouth, Gorebridge in Midlothian, Glasgow, Cumnock and Troon – though the same was true of the expressions of support.

Cllr Alan Lamont (Conservative, Girvan and South Carrick) asked if there were strict rules on the number of commercial premises in residential areas.

Planning officer James Hall responded: “There is no hard and fast standard. We look at each case on its merits, looking at the individual impact of each proposal and its effects on the residential character and amenity of the area.

“The existing units on site have long standing consensual uses.”

Cllr Bell pointed out: “It’s not as if it is a new hot food takeaway or a new store. There has been a store there for a number of years. The hot food element is the new bit.”

Cllr Lamont also pointed out that the planners’ view that the existing commercial premises were ‘making up the fabric of the community’ included the store, albeit under different guises.

Councillor Martin Kilbride said he estimated that the hot food element would only make up about 10 per cent of the services provided, adding that there had been a lot of investment in the business. 

The LRB agreed to overturn the planning officers’ refusal and approve the change of use.