1 February 2021

"I want to fight this," says Chisholm Tavern manager over Maccas proposal

| Michael Weaver
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Chisholm Family Tavern

A proposal to put a McDonald’s restaurant on the site of the Chisholm Tavern has been approved. Photo: Region Media.

The managers of the Chisholm Tavern say they will continue to fight a proposal for a McDonald’s restaurant on the site despite the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) approving an amended development application.

After more than 18 months since the first application was submitted to the ACT Planning and Land Authority, and after twice having its proposal knocked back, the battle between the fast-food giant and the family-owned tavern took a turn in favour of the applicant, the land-owner Chisholm Village Pty Ltd.

The initial refusal of the DA cited issues around vehicle and pedestrian movement and parking issues.

However, ACAT made a consent order on 18 January which constitutes a new decision that can allow the proposal to proceed subject to certain conditions.

Conditions include lease variation and subdivision requirements, minor amendments, further information for bicycle parking, pedestrian movement, disabled car parking, and Territory plan requirements.

Also crucial to the proposal will be the sale of a public toilet block adjacent to the Tavern that needs to be demolished. The ACT Government has not yet consented to the sale of the toilet block.

The amended plans for a proposed McDonald's

The amended plans for a proposed McDonald’s restaurant at Chisholm. Image: Supplied.

Chisholm Tavern owner Jennifer Hunt told Region Media today (1 February) there are still some hurdles for the developer to jump and that the overwhelming support for the Tavern had strengthened her resolve.

However, Ms Hunt, who has run the tavern for 29 years with her husband Graham (also known as Gumby) have been given until the end of April to leave.

“I want to fight this. It’s been my life,” Ms Hunt said. “But I really don’t want to ruffle any more feathers as I think there’s enough being ruffled on Facebook, but we’ll just have to see what happens.”

Chisholm Family Tavern posted on Facebook on 29 January that their time had come to an end and McDonald’s had won.

“Gumby and I have loved working for you, with you and because of you for almost 30 years.

“To all our staff, travellers, musicians and locals who have supported us over the years, and come to eat and drink in our home, thank you,” the post said.

Ms Hunt said she was not surprised by the resolve of Sydney developer Ganellen which owns the Chisholm Village Shopping Centre. She said the centre is being put on the market and would be more attractive with a McDonald’s restaurant on the site.

“The same thing happened with the Kippax Tavern. McDonald’s tried eight times before they eventually had their DA approved,” she said.

The development saw about 1500 people sign two separate petitions against the proposal, while a Save The Chisholm Family Tavern page has been set up on Facebook.

Chisholm resident Shane Carter has been leading the petition, which also received tripartisan support from MLAs Joy Burch (Labor), Johnathon Davis (ACT Greens) and Mark Parton (Canberra Liberals).

However, Mr Carter had been removed from the development proposal because he could not attend the ACAT hearing on 18 January due to ill health and his petition was not tabled.

He said he was extremely disappointed ACAT had decided without considering the “overwhelming community support for the Tavern”.

“Like so many in our community, I’m only sticking up for a beloved small family-friendly business,” Mr Carter said.

READ ALSO McDonald’s Chisholm DA knocked back a second time by ACTPLA

ACT Greens MLA Johnathan Davis said he is exploring formal options to block the proposal and told Region Media none of the people who had contacted him was in favour of the proposal, and he would push for it to be adjourned in the Assembly when it resumes next week.

“The Chisholm community has been united in its opposition to the construction of a McDonald’s restaurant and that’s been noted by two different petitions which were lodged in the Assembly during the last Parliament,” Mr Davis said.

“While I understand ACAT has made a decision on the development application, I’ll continue to do all I can to support the Chisholm Tavern and the Chisholm community to oppose the development of a McDonald’s restaurant on that site.”

Ganellen was contacted for comment but referred the matter to McDonald’s Australia which said it had considered all feedback as part of the development application process.

“The Chisholm Village proposal will increase the diversity of facilities within the centre and attract further patrons and retail spending,” the spokesperson said.

“A start date is yet to be determined.”

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Mark Prevost6:05 pm 04 Feb 21

Lose a community asset and gain a litter generating machine, lovely.

ChrisinTurner5:08 pm 04 Feb 21

The Tavern is only the tenant and they have failed to get their tenancy extended? How can you appeal against that?

If the owners of the Tavern were so keen for it to stay and the business was so successful, they were free to purchase the building it was run from.

There is no legitimate reason to not accept the owners decision and agreement with McDonald’s.

This is no different to any other landlord deciding what to do with their property. Don’t like it? Buy your own property.

CraigFromCurtin2:19 am 05 Feb 21

Don’t be ridiculous. Of course they are “free” to purchase the building (but only if the owner agrees to sell it to them instead of someone else) but it’s rare for any retail business, especially a family one, to have the millions of dollars of cash sitting around to buy property. Or to find a lending institution that would lend them a truckload of cash, let alone their ability to service such a loan. Besides, smart businesses stopped buying the properties they use long ago and in fact many sold off their properties and leased them back. Governments do that too! It’s just not business savvy to buy the building you’re in. But let’s return to the main point: it’s unlikely a family business could afford it so please stop making dismissive comments that aren’t helpful. You’re right – they ARE free to buy it – but they likely can’t afford it and it’s not sensible business. And the suggestion that the site is for sale at all is only hearsay (it was a claim by the tavern’s owner).

I note that a Greens MLA is looking at ways of stopping the proposal. The article says that it can only proceed with the sale and removal of a toilet block, and that the territory has not yet consented to the sale. Seems simple enough to stop this – don’t sell the toilet block! No-one, not even ACAT, can force someone to sell something!

Maybe change the name to the Chisholm Parklands Family Tavern.

I think they should prioritise businesses that would not affect competition, especially when there are already McDonald’s restaurants in Erindale in Wanniassa, Lanyon in Conder and Greenway, a short drive away. A better location for a McDonald’s if there has to be another one would be in Hume along the Monaro Highway.

Agree with this 100%! Along the highway in Hume would be a much better option.

Who is they? Ultimately the decision isn’t made on who the tenant is, it is based on town planning rules which are rather prescriptive and leave little leeway for decisions to be made on emotion etc. for the most part except in exceptional (which are usually politically driven circumstances) competition is not a prime consideration.

Also bear in mind in this case the owner of the shops also owns the tavern building and are they are ones who want to kick the tavern out and get a more lucrative tenant for their lease. It is business rightly or wrongly.

Shane Carter6:32 pm 01 Feb 21

Thank you RiotACT for continuing to follow this.

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