Resident’s concerns and scope of discretion
In the recent case of McDonald's Australia Pty Ltd v Yarra Ranges SC  VCAT 1539, the Tribunal has recently decided to direct the grant of a Planning Permit for a McDonald's Restaurant in Tecoma. The application faced community objections which raised numerous grounds.
One of grounds raised was that the restaurant could lead to anti-social behaviour; the Tribunal made the following comments on this issue:
- We are not persuaded that a McDonald’s restaurant is likely to lead to increased social problems in Tecoma. No alcohol is served in their premises. No gaming, music or entertainment occurs. In the context of the high volume of business conducted in McDonald’s stores, some antisocial behaviour may occur, but should not be exaggerated. Such behaviours also occasionally occur in petrol stations, supermarkets and other public places that are also open for long periods.
- We refer again to the scope of our discretion. In our view patron behaviour is part of the use of the land, which does not require planning permission. There are no policies within the Scheme or expert evidence before us that provides a basis to elevate these concerns to being determinative in this case. To do so would be an error.
- Nevertheless we think that the design of the building and the car park should make the convenience restaurant a safe place. It would be unacceptable that the building’s design, lighting and landscaping creates public spaces that are unsafe.
Ultimately the Tribunal found that the design of the restaurant was acceptable. The Age newspaper reported on 24 October 2012 that Yarra Ranges SC had voted to not appeal the decision.