Thursday, 15 April 2010

Who was it that told McDonald's that it didn't have to bother with decent supporting documentation for its proposed fast food development in Yamba?

In a previous post I pointed out that the Australian arm of that large foreign multinational McDonald's had included a misleading Traffic Impact Assessment with its Development Application (DA) for a 24 hour eat-in and drive-through fast food outlet in Yamba at the mouth of the Clarence River on the NSW North Coast.

A brief look at the Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) it also lodged with Clarence Valley Council in support of this new development shows that its spin above fact attitude continues.

On Page 13 McDonald's describes a prefabricated building of "compressed fibre cement with applied finishes. The applied finishes are in a combination of colours, including grey, black, brown and red that provides a distinctive 'MacDonald's' look" as being "designed to reflect a coastal character".

This hardly sounds like a building with coastal character or one which would be markedly sympathetic to either Yamba's existing post-2000 commercial and original architecture mix in Treelands Drive and environs or to the town's tourism branding objectives.

Based on the basic layout diagrams supplied, the McDonald's store intended for Yamba may look very like the facade of this one at Sydney's domestic airport although positioned differently on the proposed block:
That McDonald's has done better than these aesthetically barren generic pre-fabs is evidenced by what the company has done in other countries which have obviously demanded a more culturally sensitive approach and more appropriately sized signage, as exampled by Singapore:
McDonald's Australia has not confined itself to spin about its architectural plans. At times its description of matters both it and Clarence Valley shire councillors must properly consider in relation to the Treelands Drive DA is downright misleading.

In the text on Page 8 of the SEE, McDonald's states; "Bounding the subject land is a a vacant lot zoned 2(a) Residential under Maclean Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2001...."
However, there are actually two adjoining vacant residential lots at the rear of the site with building entitlements.

Clarence Valley Council's own mapping supplied to McDonald's clearly shows that although both are zoned low density residential and are on the same deposited plan, these are two separate lots. As does Council's online interactive mapping which clearly indicates two different street numbers, lot numbers and land area dimensions:
Google Maps and Google Earth also show these two lots - but just to be on the safe side I telephoned the Yamba real estate agency which is currently selling one of these vacant lots and this agency is under the same impression.

If all this mapping is correct then this is a serious omission on McDonald's part because both of these residential lots in Kookaburra Court need to have any impacts on amenity considered before development consent is either given or refused, as does the house which abuts a rear corner of the development site. Consideration which McDonald's appears intent on downplaying by 'disappearing' one lot entirely from much of its documentation text.

As for its general understanding of the commercial precinct in which it seeks to place this hamburger joint - this would border on the hilarious if the issue was not so serious.

McDonald's asserts that two businesses (which are very visibly extinct in Treelands Drive) are actually alive and well and, doesn't appear to understand that there is a permanent cinema in Yamba which is not only alive and well but in the process of expanding its seating.

Now McDonald's Australia is no stranger to NSW planning legislation and local government requirements, so its very lackadaisical and unprofessional approach to the Yamba development application is quite frankly puzzling.

To recap; this multinational states that it doesn't know details of bus routes in the immediate vicinity of the proposed development site, has not done a meaningful study of the two Treelands Drive intersections subject to significant increases in traffic if the development were to go ahead, appears ignorant of the number of properties adjoining the site, obviously has not adequately looked at the character of either the street or town and probably intends to build the restaurant to a set design with no distinctive 'coastal' character.

On 9 February 2010 McDonald's and Clarence Valley Council staff had a pre-lodgement meeting and the company asserts in the SEE Introduction that the DA "meets pre-lodgement conditions".

Which leaves me pondering a question: Who was it that apparently gave McDonald's Australia the impression that it would be acceptable for the company to just throw together a token Statement of Environmental Effects and Traffic Assessment attached to the building design and site layout?

I can think of no other reason for such inaccurate information being so insouciantly presented for consideration by Council in the Chamber in the near future, except that McDonald's has formed an opinion that the Yamba community can be discounted and shire councillors herded like so may sheep.

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