Plans for controversial Wānaka McDonald's move forwards

by Kim Bowden - Feb 07, 2024

Fresh planning documents for a proposed McDonald's restaurant in Wānaka have been made public, as the fast-food giant seeks approval from the Queenstown Lakes District Council to build its first outlet in the town.

The company had briefly pressed pause on the resource consent application process late last year, after a council planner requested more information on the project.

The latest paperwork, published last week on the council's digital database for resource management documents, is in response to the council's requests and includes a landscape assessment report detailing the visual impact the proposed restaurant would have on its surroundings.

McDonald's is proposing a single-storey, 445-square-metre building, with room for 75 diners, that would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and include a drive-through.

It would be located at new development Mt Iron Junction, on the outskirts of town at the intersection of State Highways 6 and 84, where the New Zealand Transport Agency is in the process of building a roundabout.

McDonald's landscape assessment report concludes that, while it would "not meet the relevant landscape objectives and policies for the Rural Character Landscape", the proposal, overall, would "have a very low to low degree of effect on the receiving environment’s peri-urban landscape character and this equates to effects meeting the no more than minor threshold for a non-complying activity".

The report notes any new restaurant would be "keeping with the size and scale" of other already consented developments at the location, including a Caltex Service Station.

Although it highlights the planned building's "small scale built form", "recessive cladding", and "screening vegetation" as working to mitigate visual amenity effects, it admits it would be visible from the summit of Mount Iron and one of the first buildings seen by visitors as they approach Wānaka on State Highway Six from the airport.

The proposal is a controversial one in the town, which has a history of fighting fast-food franchises.

In 2017 a petition was unsuccessful in stopping pizza outlet Domino from setting up its Ardmore Street store.

News last year the iconic 'golden arches' could make an appearance was met with similar resistance, and an online petition against the proposal organised by Wānaka resident Sarah Morrison has attracted 5,436 signatories.

It is Ms Morrison's view McDonald's "does not belong in our beautiful home" as it goes against "core community values".

A site map for the proposed McDonald's and neighbouring Caltex Service Station, tp be located within the new Mt Iron Junction development  (Image: eDocs/RM230874/ascarchitects).

In her petition description she raises concerns about food waste and pollution, as well as the potential strain a new player in the hospitality scene could place on smaller local businesses and an already stretched hospitality workforce.

A rival, and much smaller, petition was launched in response: 'Bring McDonald's to Wānaka', which has attracted 248 signatories.

McDonald's has requested its application be publicly notified, meaning members of the community and others will have opportunity to submit on the company's plans for the town.

Main image (eDocs/RM230874/ascarchitects): Mount Iron looms over a planned McDonald's restaurant and drive-through in a latest sketch presented to the Queenstown Lakes District Council for planning approval.


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