Beef with Macca’s amounts to permit refusal in Mount Evelyn

The proposed McDonald's didn't meet road safety requirements or the planning policy framework. (Artist impression, supplied)

By Mikayla van Loon

Mount Evelyn residents opposed to the infiltration of a fast food giant in their ‘village town’ have been left elated by a decision to reject the application.

The decision to refuse both the McDonald’s and childcare centre proposed for 19-23 Hereford Road was handed down by Yarra Ranges Council on Monday 8 July.

With a determination from the Department of Transport and Planning that the development would be “unacceptable”, “incompatible” and “likely to compromise road safety” gave grounds for refusal.

“When a state government agency objects to an application on the grounds of safety we must listen to their expert advice,” council mayor Sophie Todorov said.

No McDonald’s in Mount Evelyn lead campaigner Amy Kidd said she was pleased to learn of the decision and grateful that the over 400 objections submitted to the council were taken into consideration.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with this decision. It’s a real testament to the Mount Evelyn community who really got behind objecting to this proposal, and we’re really glad the Yarra Ranges Council has listened to our concerns and rejected the plan,” she said.

Celebrating this victory, Ms Kidd said the action committee and the community would be getting together on Friday night to appreciate the effort and work put in since the proposal became known in December.

With an appeal of the decision possible through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), Ms Kidd said the group would be keeping a watchful eye on what happens next.

“The group will just continue to monitor it and see what the developer’s next steps are going to be,” she said.

“We’ll be sure to let the community know if this proposal does go to VCAT or if there is any other way people can take action.

“We’ve got an enormous group of people that we can activate who are really engaged with this, so we can continue to try and stop this proposal in any next steps.”

The council flagged 13 different clauses the permit application did not meet the requirements of when outlining the basis of refusal for the McDonald’s specifically.

Most notably, councillor Tim Heenan said the residential zoning of the site did not cater to the development style.

“The site for this planning application is in a residential area which would not be appropriate and the current issues of safety on Hereford Road have been taken into account in the decision,” he said.

“The proposal is also seen as not meeting planning policy, is a poor urban design outcome and would result in an out of centre development.”

The 5am to midnight operation hours were cited as “not appropriate in a neighbourhood residential zone”, the noise impacts, light spill, odours, the landscape response not meeting the Bushfire Management Overlay and the signage were all points identified by the council as not meeting the necessary sections of the planning policy framework.

The childcare centre was assessed separately but too did not meet the bushfire overlay clauses “to ensure protection of human life” through “adequate measures”, nor did the applicant provide further requested information to the CFA needed for the decision.

“It’s important when considering planning applications that the proposed development is suitable and appropriate for the location. It was clear on this occasion that this application is not suitable,” mayor Todorov said.

Cr Heenan said “this application…caused a great deal of concern in the community” and confirmed this had been “taken into account in the refusal of this application”.

The Yarra Ranges community has had a known history of fighting the establishment of McDonald’s restaurants in the region, with Tecoma and Healesville putting forward cases for the refusal of these developments.

Ms Kidd said while the group would prefer for the application not to be appealed in VCAT, it would continue to have a voice for the township of Mount Evelyn.

“A huge thank you from me to everyone who wrote an objection, signed the petition, donated or took action in any other way to stop this development. It’s been a really, really impressive campaign,” she said.

“It really shows the power of the community when they come together. So I’m really proud to have been part of it.”

McDonald’s has been contacted for comment.