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.
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.
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.”