The on-again, off-again saga of the Chisholm Tavern, which has been at the centre of a proposal to make way for a McDonald’s Restaurant, is back on again, with the venue now having its lease extended until at least December.
The Tavern, which has operated under the current owners Jennifer and Graham Hunt for almost 30 years, has been under siege from a proposal by Chisholm Village Shopping Centre’s owner Ganellen to build a McDonald’s since 2019. The venue had most recently been told to vacate the premises by 3 May.
The venue has also survived two development applications for a McDonald’s which were knocked back by the ACT Planning and Land Authority before the decision was challenged in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) in February this year.
ACAT approved the McDonald’s proposal on the condition the ACT Government sell a public toilet block adjacent to the Chisholm Tavern.
It is understood the dispute over the sale of the toilet block is now in the hands of lawyers, with no available court date before November this year.
Chisholm Tavern owner Jennifer Hunt said negotiations this week with Ganellen had been the most positive yet for the future of the tavern, which has received widespread community support and three petitions tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly.
Ms Hunt told Region Media part of the negotiations involved them taking a separate lease on the vacant Chinese restaurant next to the Tavern.
“Our future is still uncertain, but we’ve come to an agreement on staying here and possibly taking over the old restaurant next door,” Ms Hunt said.
“All I can say is that negotiations are ongoing, and there is more to this story, but this is a very positive outcome for the future of the Tavern.
“I can say now that I’m feeling more positive about the future than I have in the last two years of all this. We’re talking about what we can do here to make the place better. Watch this space,” she said.
In March this year, the Tavern owners were notified that their month-to-month lease would not be renewed. A representative of Ganellen also told Region Media they had sought legal advice to challenge the ACT Government’s decision on the toilet block so that the DA for a McDonald’s restaurant could finally be approved.
The community rallied once again with a third petition organised by Chisholm resident Shane Carter and sponsored by Labor MLA Joy Burch receiving 1043 signatures.
The petition called on the ACT Government to recognise and understand continued community concerns surrounding the proposed development at Chisholm Village by Ganellen.
The issue has received support tripartisan support from MLAs who have jointly lobbied residents in the area to have their say about the McDonald’s proposal.
Ms Burch said the community’s voice had again been heard in the Assembly, while Canberra Liberals MLA Mark Parton and the Greens’ Johnathon Davis said politicians and the community were united over the proposal to demolish the Chisholm Tavern.
“This campaign has had a genuine small-town feel about it,” Mr Parton said. “I would emphasise this campaign has materialised because of the many community voices speaking so loudly about this issue.
“For me, this is not an anti-McDonald’s push, it’s about supporting a 30-year local business trying to hang on against the tide.”
Greens’ MLA Johnathon Davis said the community deserves and expects their elected members to work together on issues such as this.
“Joy, Mark and I are united in our efforts to ensure that the community has their voices respected and are not bullied by multinational corporations and greedy property developers from interstate.
“The people of Tuggeranong have told me that they want to be able to make the important decisions about how their neighbourhoods look and develop.”