Friday, August 10, 2012

mcdonalds appeal - day 5

Community members came out in droves to the
No McDonalds meeting held in May 2011.
Last day of the hearing for this week, it opened with the community refuting the claims that the community had attacked the brand throughout the submission process, this clearly hasn’t been the case.

Mr Townshend SC continued his submission on behalf of McDonalds. He spoke about the need for tribunal members to look at objective facts around the attributes of the building and highlighted that much of what had been heard so far related to use, such as intensity, activity, role and function, all issues of use raised by a number of objectors.

He went on to urge the tribunal members not to gauge the response by the number of objectors, saying those who support the application aren’t inclined to participate in the process and spoke to one letter of support he’d seen suggesting this Tecoma local was looking forward to a “decent cup of coffee”.

He made particular reference to the submission by Jamie Walvisch, saying that this proposal and the Romsey proposal (for pokie machines) were not the same and cannot be compared in terms of measuring social effect.

He said the proposal will provide a multipurpose function in the town, providing convenience needs in the centre, that it would rejuvenate Tecoma by bringing additional customers to the centre and support local employment for younger people. He went on to say the proposal included an attractive dining place for all ages and mobility, it would reduce car trips and provided safe and clean surrounds. 

Mr Townshend SC went on to mention the permit issued for Saffron Cottage (note: this permit has not been issued as it is being taken to appeal by objectors). At that point Member Rundell asked for futher detail. Mr Townshend SC did say  it was a Section 2 use (note: this means permit required) in a Low Density Residential Zone, that council had accepted activity extended on the end of the Business Zone and was interested in the attitude and approach of that new building in the street, suggesting the application got through because Saffron Cottage weren’t selling hamburgers.

He talked about the residential interface saying that it was an existing interface and relationship which was not changing materially due to the proposal.

He talked about the Supermarket decision/application saying it was a hopeless comparison and there was no basis for this building (McDonalds) to be characterised as large, borne out by a simple comparison of the plans, he then proceeded to compare the footprint of plans, frontage and elevations of this proposal and the supermarket.  He reminded tribunal members that the ultimate decision by the tribunal was that is could be a supermarket but a smaller supermarket. He said the proposal was balanced, compatible with the established character, with generous setback and landscaped car park.
He made particular mention of the council officer’s report and with regard to the Shire’s Urban Design internal referral (requested by Member Carew on Thursday) said it was hopelessly flawed and generic in the comments. He said that Mr Radisich had made a cheap point with regard to the hang over public land (the veranda signage).
Mr Townshend SC went on to talk about the articulation of facades, the contemporary version of canopy which defines the street and maintains the existing fine grain vertical articulation as well as signage, lighting, amenity, scale and impact.

Member Rundell asked Mr Townshend SC as the land abuts Low Density Residential Zoning (LDRZ) does that elevate amenity standards. Mr Townshend SC said no, neither in potential or practical terms, that zoning was in name only as there were medium density developments to the rear of the site. You can’t say you have to be kinder because it’s LDRZ.
He went on to say that any permit conditions that apply must be fair and reasonable, and questioned whether a reduction of operating hours (from 24 hours per day) was fair and reasonable.

Both tribunal members asked a number of questions that covered off on the Patron Management Plan (PMP), conditions about turning off signage at night, noise from CODs at night, closure of half the drive through at night time, the Torquay case (where protecting the foreshore amenity was discussed).

At 12:01pm, the first expert witness for McDonalds, Stuart McGurn took the stand to present evidence based on his expert planning report. He opened by saying the proposal meets the purposes of the State Planning Policy, meets the purposes of the zone and Melbourne 2030 which suggests activity centres should have a broader range of use over a greater spread of hours. He said, “I think we do meet the thrust of policy guidelines”. 

He talked about the proposal covering the elements of built form. He did criticise the southern wall of the corral suggesting that it should have either the timber or stacked stone treatment. He talked about the significant benefit of revamped car park which at the moment is unlit, not safe and quite poor and said the landscaping and lighting will be a significant benefit for the site and the centre.

When talking about the signage he said there was no detriment, it did not contribute visual clutter and in describing the blade, called it relatively restrained. Mr McGurn also highlighted 2 things he thought the PMP lacked, litter control was not included as well as regular patrols of the car park area, he thought they should be included. He went on the say he was supportive of the 24 hours operation as a reasonable proposition.

After a big morning we broke for lunch.

On return from lunch the community raised another point of clarification, as part of Mr Townshend SC’s submission he talked about the community consultation inferring it had been consultation. David Jewell said it was a PowerPoint presentation, not a consultation, about a McDonalds restaurant on the site. Member Rundell suggested to David that these were matters that could be pursued as part of the right of reply.

Member Carew said that they cannot give a lot of weight to it, as it relates to a past application.

At 2:20pm Mimi Marcus commenced her cross examination of Mr McGurn on behalf of council. Ms Marcus asked questions around the difference between amenity and character and how character could be defined and if there is agreement that cumulative aspects that contribute to neighbourhood character. She went on to ask about the building being like a corner site, particularly focussing on the blank wall greeting people to the West. Mr McGurn said he didn’t think the wall is particularly blank as it had a modulation in forms but could be improved with stacked stone or timber finish.

As part of cross examination by Ms Marcus, Mr McGurn agreed there were 12 signs along the frontage. Ms Marcus asked if he was familiar with clause 22.04 and the need to avoid repetitive signage. Mr McGurn said he didn’t agree the signs were repetitive.

Ms Marcus asked Mr McGurn if he’d visited the site at night time, which he confirmed once at midnight and once at 6pm, he confirmed it was certainly quiet at midnight. Ms Marcus went on to ask questions about the PMP, lighting and noise.

Next up to cross examine Mr McGurn was David Hall, owner of 1527 Burwood Hwy. He queried what materials were being used for the loading bay and highlighted concerns about the visual impact of the loading bay. Mr McGurn said he was not concerned about their amenity (the people in the offices/shops opposite the proposal), particularly as the height of the loading bay wall was 2.7mt and stepped in the middle.

Karl Williams was next to cross examine Mr McGurn. He raised questions around light spill, lighting, advertising signage, Mr McGurn's qualifications and the ability of the lighting to meet Australian Standards. On numerous occasions Mr McGurn stated he was not a lighting expert or engineer and suggested that permit conditions are the appropriate mechanism to ensure lighting compliance with Australian Standards.

Next to cross examine Mr McGurn was Claire Ferres-Miles. She asked questions around bushfire and fire management plans on Code Red days, the typical built form of Tecoma (where 77.8% of commercial buildings directly abut the footpath). She made mention of the new elevations designed to improve the interface, dated 27/06/12, that it had taken 6 weeks to have them circulated.

She went on to ask about the planter boxes at the front of the building, lowered to improve the public/private interface even though the McDonalds signage remained at a higher level. She asked questions about the relative scale of the building in comparison to others in Tecoma.

As part of the cross examination Mr McGurn said the blade is a useful architectural element and accepts that it also holds signage. Claire went on to ask about any other examples of stacked stone in Tecoma suggesting that it is not consistent with the character of Tecoma.

The issue of the two flagpoles was raised, as they don’t appear on any of the elevation plans. The visual bulk of the building was also questioned with specific mention of the blade protruding and interrupting the view line to the backdrop of Tecoma.  Mr McGurn confirmed he had come to the opinion that the building did not have an unreasonable impact on the view line from the forest, even though he hadn’t visited Sherbrooke Forest and looked toward the subject site.

Lastly Claire tackled the issue of whether McDonalds is a ‘destination’ venue, as we’d heard Mr Townshend SC declare that it was not the day before. Claire led Mr McGurn through a series of questions in relation to birthday parties, which saw him confirm that the venue is indeed a destination.

At 4:07pm Tim Radisich began his cross examination of Mr McGurn. He raised questions around the context of the site, the functionality of the disabled car park, the levels across the site and how to access the site once parked.

Mr McGurn said he couldn’t understand how it would be difficult to use the CODs at the current grade, when asked where other McDonalds drive throughs were located on a slope, Mr McGurn said he was not personally aware of one. Mr McGurn said that you might get some view of the CODs although there was significant landscaping on the site. 

Tim continued to ask questions around lighting, the terrace lighting and the views from neighbouring residential properties. Member Carew asked questions around the PMP and conditions around closing the back of the drive through.

Member Carew went on to ask about the materials and finishes. She said she was driving on Victoria Parade last night and noticed a McDonalds there which also had stacked stone pillars. Mr McGurn said that this store (Tecoma) was particularly different, different to others highlighting the Malvern store didn’t have that style. He went on saying he’s not saying it’s not in other McDonalds stores, the fact it’s been used in other stores doesn’t mean it’s rolled out in all stores and that the stacked stone treatment seemed appropriate for this site.

Member Carew went on to ask about the interior layout, the pedestrian connections and the disconnect between the car park and frontage.

At 5pm Member Rundell thanked everyone for the contribution over the week in the spirit of respect. Prior to closing Member Carew requested a copy of the 1525 Burwood Hwy planning application (Saffron Cottage), a map plan of council/VCAT objectors and confirmation of the signage applications council believes are necessary.

Mr Radisich advised the tribunal that the 1525 Burwood Hwy application was a matter before the tribunal. He also said that as he had no issue with the landscape response he would not be in attendance on Monday.

As part of final comments the community thanked the tribunal members for allowing us to go to our friend’s funeral.

Member Rundell reaffirmed that Monday’s hearing would commence at 2:15pm to hear the landscape evidence and passed on the tribunal’s condolences to the community and the family.

I’m thankful of the Tribunal’s sympathy around the issue of Wilf’s funeral and thank them for their thoughtfulness in adjusting their schedule around what is a sensitive issue in our local community.

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At 1:12 PM, Blogger Tarzanna said...

Thanks for this valuable summary, Sam - Judy.


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