The Chisholm Tavern will live to serve another schnitzel and schooner after the ACT Government blocked the sale of a toilet block adjacent to the Tavern. The toilet block needed to be acquired and then knocked down for the McDonald’s Restaurant to be built.
The ongoing battle between the fast-food giant, the developer of the Chisholm Shopping Centre, the managers of the Chisholm Tavern and the ACT Government has been waged for almost two years.
Two previous development applications were not approved by the ACT Government, but this was overturned by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal on 18 January and the Chisholm Tavern managers of 29 years conceded defeat.
However, the Minister for Planning and Land Management, Mick Gentleman, yesterday (9 February) decided not to approve the sale of public land adjacent to Chisholm Tavern “due to community concerns”.
The motion to prevent the sale of the toilet block was supported by Liberal MLA Mark Parton, Greens MLA Johnathan Davis and Labor’s Joy Burch, who announced the decision on her social media page last night after earlier tabling two petitions showing overwhelming public objections to the McDonald’s proposal.
Ms Burch told Region Media the community’s voice was vital and yesterday’s outcome shows the community does not support the proposal.
“These objections, and the community coming together to voice their concerns, were absolutely instrumental in the government’s recent decision not to sell the toilet block,” Ms Burch said.
“Both petitions called on the ACT Government to consult with the local community and consider their objections and I strongly believe this outcome demonstrates that the ACT Government did listen to the wishes of the local community.”
The owners of Chisholm Village Shopping Centre, Ganellen, can still lodge a further DA, however, a spokesperson would not comment when asked if they would submit a third DA.
After altering their initial DAs to facilitate issues around vehicle and pedestrian movement and parking issues, the sale of the public toilet block was crucial.
Chisholm resident Shane Carter had organised the two petitions and a Save the Chisholm Tavern group and said he was very happy for the managers of the Tavern, Jennifer and Graham Hunt.
“I just wanted to thank our community for their support in contacting our MLAs to say they didn’t want this to go ahead,” Mr Carter said. “And thank you to all our MLAs in Brindabella for listening.”
Mr Carter had been removed from the development proposal as he could not attend the ACAT hearing on 18 January due to ill health and his petition was not tabled.
Ms Hunt said she will now look to spend some money on the venue which has long supported live music and the local community.
“It’s certainly been a roller-coaster for the last two years and this should be coming to an end now,” she said. “We’d said goodbye to everyone on Facebook a few weeks ago, but this definitely makes it very hard for the owners to put a McDonald’s here.”
“We definitely want to improve the venue, but haven’t because we’ve had this proposal hanging over our heads.”
Ms Hunt also said she was “eternally grateful” to the people who have supported the Tavern who are already celebrating there today.
“We couldn’t have done this without the community response. This year is our 30th anniversary on 29 September, and we’ll end up having it now after we didn’t think we’d be here.
“We will certainly thank the community because their support was just amazing,” she said.
Ms Burch also said future development of the Chisholm Shopping Centre is “a known option” but it was important that the community’s views were considered.
“It’s important that any future development proposals take into consideration options which complement the existing shops, fits the amenity, continues to support local business and is for the public good, taking into consideration all aspects including parking, safety and access,” Ms Burch said.