A group of local residents is already preparing to go into battle over the proposed KFC at Chisholm Shops.
Their arguments against the development include its impact on traffic congestion, removal of parking spaces and trees, and they say the community does not want or need an unhealthy fast food outlet.
That’s not to say everyone is in their camp, however.
Fiery debates have taken place across social media in recent weeks after the shopping centre’s owners lodged a $1.2 million development application.
Chisholm Village Pty Limited wants to build a KFC and drive-through in the car park opposite Aldi.
The company’s proposal includes plans for car wash facilities, new supermarket click-and-collect facilities and six parking spaces.
Six trees would need to be removed to allow for the build.
According to the planning report, community consultation has not been undertaken for the lodgement of the DA as it was not required.
This is not the same site as the ill-fated McDonald’s proposal of three years ago, which was ultimately rejected after a fierce community campaign to keep the Chisholm Family Tavern and the government’s refusal to sell a public toilet block.
But it appears the plan for a different fast food outlet has raised the hackles of some community members who have now lodged a petition in the ACT Legislative Assembly opposing the proposal. Since last Thursday (6 October), it has garnered almost 200 signatures.
They’re calling on the government to step in once again and block the development application “as it will have a direct and undesirable impact on the local community”.
Some of those undesirable impacts include the fact nearby small businesses are struggling and a KFC will further take businesses away from them, the petition stated.
Petitioners also brought up issues with the planned location, saying it will be unsafe for road users and pedestrians as Benham Street is often congested with cars coming into the Aldi and the dental surgery. There are also two bus stops nearby.
They further noted how residents had been upset when a McDonald’s was proposed for the site of the former Chisholm Tavern and had successfully campaigned against it.
Not everyone is opposed to KFC, however, with many noting the fast food outlet would employ young people in the area. It could help revitalise the precinct, turning it into a busy hub like Erindale.
Others have highlighted that the McDonald’s plan posed obvious congestion and car parking issues, whereas the KFC does not.
The petition was sponsored by local member Joy Burch.
Ms Burch, who declined to comment further, was a key player in the campaign against McDonald’s, which garnered tripartisan support three years ago.
Three petitions to halt that particular chain from being built were lodged with the ACT Government. Two successive development applications for the proposal were rejected because there were other franchises nearby, concerns about congestion and waste and more.
Those decisions were overturned in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) before the government ultimately refused to sell a toilet block.
In response to Region‘s questions about these community concerns, Chisholm Village’s assistant development manager James Tsalikis said he was “deeply disappointed” by attempts to politicise the Territory’s development application.
“We are [also] deeply disappointed by … any suggestion that the Chisholm Village is not an appropriate location for fast food,” he said.
“There are countless examples across the ACT where fast-food businesses have enhanced the retail ecosystem in our group centres, delivering economic and employment opportunities for the broader catchment. We appreciate the support we have received across the community and look forward to an independent assessment of our proposal by the ACT Planning Authority.”