McDonald’s wants to set-up shop in Toukley, opposite the primary school, but the locals are making it quite clear that the fast-food chain is not welcome.
The community Facebook page has erupted with a thousand or more posts since the development application went public and the Central Coast Council website is being bombarded with submissions of objection.
McDonald’s is seeking approval to build a two-storey restaurant with playground on a 2,073sqm block on the corner of Main Rd and Evans Rd, currently occupied by Steve Kennedy Smash Repairs.
The plans include a dual-lane drive-through with capacity for 18 queuing vehicles on-site and 17 car-parking spaces with access to the business from Evans Rd.
It will be a 24/7 seven days a week operation creating about 120 local jobs.
Some of the locals say they are totally opposed to having McDonald’s in town, while some say it is just the wrong location; but there are a few who want to see “progress”.
“Toukley needs more big outlets for the town to grow,” one resident said.
Common themes of concern include traffic congestion turning quiet residential streets into busy detours, road safety and proximity to schools, environmental impact, community character, local economy and social harmony.
Tess Cowley, once a road safety officer at a Sydney school where she was a teacher, says the proposal represents an “accident waiting to happen”.
“This is one of the busiest and most dangerous intersections in the area,” she said.
“If you’ve ever been to Toukley at around three o’clock in the afternoon, it’s absolute gridlock, so adding a McDonald’s in just seems like the craziest idea for that location.
“From a town planning perspective, wouldn’t that just be an automatic no to put a McDonald’s in opposite a school, and there’s another primary school (St Mary’s) about 500m up the road.
“You’ve not only got the cars and traffic, but there’s pedestrians, kids on bikes, mums with prams, people already going in and out of Aldi next door, all making it a really busy corner.”
The DA traffic study says access to McDonald’s would be via Evans Rd – including removal of No Stopping restrictions – but because of the existing left-turn ban for large vehicles (such as delivery trucks) from Main Rd into Evans Rd, those service vehicles would have to access the site through Clark Rd and Hammond Rd.
“We have so many issues already on Hammond Rd with near misses, trucks flying up and down, and they’ll be using surrounding residential streets to avoid the Main Rd/Evans Rd corner,” Cowley said.
Local businessman Michael Cross says local cafes and restaurants, which are the backbone of Toukley’s emerging food scene, could face unfair competition from McDonald’s, leading to a decline in these local establishments and negatively affecting the community’s economic diversity.
“Our community is passionately working towards transforming Toukley into a bohemian-style culinary and café hub,” he said.
“This grassroots effort aims to create a unique locally-driven food culture.
“Introducing a fast-food giant directly opposes and potentially undermines these community-led initiatives.”
In a submission to Council, Minister for the Central Coast and Member for Wyong, David Harris, said “the safety of our children should be a top priority” and “the introduction of a major fast-food chain could have adverse effects on the local community”.
“Supporting local businesses over large chains can have numerous benefits for our community,” his submission said.
“It helps maintain the unique character of our neighbourhoods, promotes local entrepreneurship and ensures that profits stay within the community.”
Harris proposed an alternative location for McDonald’s in the main Toukley shopping area.
“Re-purposing one of the more vacant shopping malls in that area could not only be a more suitable location but also a means of revitalising those spaces,” he said.
His submission to Council said that this aligned with the idea of supporting local businesses while simultaneously addressing the need for economic development.
Harris also requested of Council that more efforts be directed towards revitalising the existing shops in the East Toukley area where McDonald’s is proposed.
“Strengthening the local economy through support for these businesses might prove to be a more sustainable and community-friendly approach,” Harris said in his submission.
Submissions for DA 2421/2023 close on February 9.