Warning Tony Macaroni could pull out of Falkirk restaurant

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Italian restaurant chain Tony Macaroni is eyeing a ‘pizza’ Falkirk to open its latest outlet – but will have to wait a bit longer for the chance.

The company has targeted vacant land on Grahams Road in the town for its next eatery and hot food takeaway.

It has been negotiating the terms of a leasing agreement with landlord Eskgate Limited and architects John Russell Partners on the design of the building for over two years, but now faces another delay after councillors decided to carry out a site visit before deciding on whether or not planning permission should be granted.

Falkirk Council planners recommended the application be approved under delegated powers, but it went to the planning committee on Tuesday at the request of local councillor David Alexander.

He claimed the concerns of neighbours who objected to the development had not been addressed and there were outstanding issues concerning the future of some trees on the site.

Bizarrely, following the local elections last month which saw the SNP take control of the town hall and Councillor Alexander appointed convener of the planning committee, he was not allowed to take part in the debate.

On Tuesday the committee, which was meeting for the first time, was told the site had been used to display and sell vehicles but been lying empty for over ten years.

It is now enclosed by a security fence and part of the ground turned into a temporary parking area for residents of flats next door.

Objections were lodged by residents in Grahams Road, George Street and Russell Street, but development management co-ordinator Donald Campbell said they had been dealt with and officers considered the proposed development would benefit the town centre.

He told the committee: “The proposal represents an acceptable form of development for the locality and is in accordance with the relevant policies and supplementary guidance contained in the Falkirk Local Development Plan.

“The objections have been resolved and there are no material planning considerations which would justify a refusal of planning permission.”

Polmont councillor Malcolm Nicol said he was not “too familiar” with the area and a site visit before any decision would be beneficial.

On Wednesday architect John Russell said: “We have worked hard to get the okay from Falkirk Council planning officers regards the design and positioning of the building and even the size of the car park.

“Plans have been submitted, withdrawn and re-submitted, the objections dealt with and the objectors reassured so this latest delay is disappointing and I don’t know how our clients will react to this latest setback.

“Tony Macaroni identified themselves as potential tenants over two years ago, have accepted the changes all along the way but have yet to sign on the dotted line.

“If they walk away this site will be looking like it looks like for a while yet.”