Macca’s coming!

The golden arches of McDonald's. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Jed Lanyon

Healesville may become the site for a new McDonald’s franchise, joining a retail development that could soon feature a hotel, petrol station and other businesses.

McDonald’s Australia submitted an application to amend an approved planning permit to Yarra Ranges Council on 8 May, confirming the global fast-food giant is keen on becoming a tenant at the development on 17 Maroondah Highway, Healesville.

There’s bad news for locals who oppose seeing a Macca’s in Healesville as the application is merely to amend the approved permit to change building specifications, not to decide whether a McDonald’s would be approved or denied use of the site.

Yarra Ranges Council’s director of planning, design and development, Kath McClusky told Star Mail: “Council recently received an application, proposing to amend the approved Convenience Restaurant building details on a previously-approved Planning Permit (YR-2014/1199) at 17 Maroondah Highway in Healesville.

“The application does not propose any other changes to the previously-approved uses of the site.”

The application to feature a ‘convenience restaurant’ had already been approved by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in July 2016, but the tenant of the potential convenience restaurant was not yet known, until now.

That decision allowed for the “use and development of the land for hotel, market, restricted retail premises, service station, takeaway food premises and convenience restaurant”.

Some Healesville residents had long feared this would pave the way for a McDonald’s in town. A Facebook page titled, ‘No Maccas/No Inappropriate Developments in Healesville’ called for residents who oppose McDonald’s to “stand shoulder to shoulder” in their objection.

Some of the changes outlined in the current application amendment by McDonald’s include an additional drive-through lane and waiting bays, as well as an increase in the height of the building by 50 centimetres and in some parts 1.7 metres, taking the overall building height to 7.2 metres.

McDonald’s is being represented by planning company Urbis, who in their application stated that the amended plans were “to ensure the convenience restaurant is able to trade in accordance with McDonald’s operational requirements.”

McDonald’s did not respond to Star Mail’s requests for comment.

The 2016 application also approved the sale of liquor (including packaged liquor) on and off the premises, paving way for another potential competitor in the ever-growing alcoholic beverage market in the Yarra Valley.

According to plans from June 2019, the construction of the retail centre would require the implementation of a roundabout adjoining Airlie Road and Heritage Lane with the Maroondah Highway by the Department of Transport.

Last week, Star Mail reported on a Commercial Real Estate listing, which highlighted the investment opportunity for a petrol station site where buyers are offered to “Join McDonald’s in this major new development, in one of Melbourne’s major tourist areas.”

The listing, updated on 7 February, highlights the location as the “first petrol site into Healesville after the long drive from Melbourne” and that the development is “ready to go” with permits, plans and the site being levelled.

Ms McClusky said that the application is currently under assessment by Yarra Ranges Council.

“Our Planning Team is reviewing the application and associated documents, and once it has all relevant information the application will be advertised to the public.

“Once the advertising period has finished, the application will be assessed against the Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme, considering all submissions, before a final decision is made.

“No date has been set for advertising and no decision has been made on this application.”

To view the application, visit https://bit.ly/2A932Oo

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