Angry residents in Sydney’s inner south are fighting plans for a 24/7 McDonald’s restaurant in Botany on the basis it would bring “undesirables” to their area, decrease property values and unleash a telltale “McDonald’s smell”.
Bayside Council is six months into its assessment of the proposed drive-through Maccas on Botany Road and has been inundated with opposition from locals, including the state and federal MPs.
Among complaints about increased traffic, noise and rubbish, many of the submissions – which appear to be based on a form letter – are concerned with the character of McDonald’s customers.
“Having a 24/7 McDonald’s will attract undesirable and anti-social behaviour,” wrote Cherie and Mark Peyton of Botany.
“Young people without means or age to attend venues such as bars and nightclubs will be drawn to the area, hopping into their cars with groups of friends to get some ‘Maccas’, and will be drawn to the Sir Joseph Banks Park so they can muck around with their friends under the emboldening cloak of darkness of the night.”
They added: “Undesirable people won’t be the only undesirables that will be drawn in greater numbers to the area: there will be a negative impact on urban wildlife, with an increase in rats.”
The site of the proposed McDonald’s is a $6 million block of land in an industrial area currently occupied by a campervan rental business. It is surrounded by a petrol station, a tile manufacturer and a “fire protection and plumbing supplies” company, but is reasonably close to a new housing development.
Another neighbour, Victoria Longbottom, said the McDonald’s would result in “drug deals being carried out in the car park” and lead to lower property values.
Resident Rachel Thornton lodged a petition with more than 1000 signatures which she said were collected in 12 days. In her own submission, Ms Thornton gave nine reasons for objecting to the proposal, including the lack of an “odour report” in the development application.
“Anyone within hundreds of metres of a McDonald’s can smell it and identify it as a ‘McDonald’s smell’,” she wrote. “The constant smell of a McDonald’s would negatively affect the local amenity and will no doubt stretch to Sir Joseph Banks Park. It would directly go into the home of the houses across the street, who would no longer be able to enjoy a peaceful evening breeze due to constant noise and odour.”
Ms Thorton appeared in a video with federal Labor MP Matt Thistlethwaite, who also wrote to Bayside Council opposing the McDonald’s. He said there was already a “major problem with car hoons in the Botany Bay area” and a significant risk the restaurant would create a “honey pot for anti-social behaviour”.
State Labor MP and former opposition leader Michael Daley pointed out there were already four McDonald’s restaurants nearby on General Holmes Drive, at Westfield Eastgardens, in Maroubra and at the airport. Independent cafe and restaurant owners “stand to lose everything if this development is approved”, he wrote.
After setting an initial target date of March 17 to assess the proposal, Bayside Council has asked McDonald’s for more information about its plans. The company is yet to provide its response.
A McDonald’s Australia spokesperson said the restaurant would inject $5 million into the local economy and create 100 jobs during construction and 120 more once operational.
“McDonald’s takes its responsibility for engaging with the community seriously and will consider all feedback as part of the development application process,” they said.
Bayside mayor Joe Awada said while the decision was not his to make – it is in the hands of an independent local planning panel – he was opposed to the McDonald’s operating 24/7. “It’s a bit rich,” he said, but felt that with reduced trading hours it would be OK.