McDonald's sets sights on Yamba

CALL it economic progress or the symbolic end to Yamba’s coastal hamlet appeal – McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food chain, has its sights set on Yamba.

McDonald’s Australia Limited lodged a development application (DA) with Clarence Valley Council this week for a 112-seat outlet, complete with drive-through, playground and McCafe, to be built on the Treelands Drive Cinema site.

The development, which received strong opposition from the Yamba Chamber of Commerce, would require the demolition of the current temporary cinema shed and the removal of some trees. An extension of the Coldstream Street cinemas was approved by council last week.

A 10-metre high, 3.6 metre wide giant M sign is also proposed for the new Maccas site, which will also provide 32 car parking spaces with access from Treelands Drive.

Yamba Chamber of Commerce president Daniel Reeves said he was ‘completely against’ a McDonald’s coming to Yamba and he believed most of the chamber’s membership would feel the same way because of the increased competition and the loss of the small town culture.

“I don’t think it’s the right time for Yamba to have a Maccas – I can’t see a market in their demographic,” Mr Reeves said.

“We seem to have a different culture in Yamba – not so much a chain culture, with a couple of exceptions ... it’s about protecting the businesses we’ve got.

“Change such as this, it changes the economic status – if a place is big enough to have a maccas it loses that small town feel.”

Clarence Valley Council deputy general manager Des Schroder said the application would be treated like any other DA.

“From a development point of view, you’re unlikely to find a better site – it has access, previous usage and plenty of space,” Mr Schroder said.

He conceded the application would raise some ‘questions of purity’ and that was something for the community to voice their concerns over.

“There are already some multinationals in Yamba – Domino’s and Subway ... this may be the first stand-alone though,” he said.

The Daily Examiner reported there were 18 businesses for sale in Yamba on Tuesday, 12 in the village centre and six in the Treelands Drive/Yamba Shopping Fair area.

“You’ve got businesses that are quite seasonal now anyway, this might shut them down completely,” Mr Reeves said.

The chamber president said a Yamba Maccas may affect food outlets in Maclean as well.

Mr Reeves said the chamber would discuss a formal opposition strategy at its next meeting in early April.

McDonald’s Australia communications manager Kristy Chong said Yamba was commercially viable due to its strong growth in population and housing.

“We’ve done the sums, it’s certainly viable,” Ms Chong said.

“The site in Treelands Ave was chosen as it is an appropriate commercial location for a McDonald’s restaurant – it’s in keeping with the sensitivities of the area.

“A McDonald’s restaurant can bring many benefits to the local community including employment and sponsorship, and offers local residents high quality food in a safe and fun environment.”

She said a local person would be chosen to run the franchise and that a selection process had already narrowed the contenders down to two or three.

The DA is now on public display in Maclean and Grafton.

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