ORANGE City Council has taken the unusual step of hiring independent consultants to study the traffic impact of opening a McDonald’s in residential North Orange.
As the proposed site, on the corner of Telopea Way and Farrell Road is owned by council, the consultants will ensure there is no perceived conflict of interest when assessing the suitability of the site for sale to the fast food outlet.
Council spokesman Allan Reeder admitted hiring outside consultants happened very rarely.
“It’s a sensible step when Orange City Council is selling the land for the McDonald’s site,” he said.
“[Council] also needs to make very sure all the appropriate steps are taken to let the community have its say and conform with state planning regulations.”
Mr Reeder said the study was already underway and while the general public would not be able to have any input, they would be able to view the results about a week before council’s Sustainable Development Committee (SDC) meeting in April, when the agenda was distributed.
“[Anyone] can come to the SDC meeting and have their say in the normal forum time,” he said.
Mr Reeder said the development application assessment process would be peer reviewed by Canberra planning consultants CBRE.
“The council can’t divorce itself of the responsibility of making the decision, so it asks experts in the field of DAs to critically examine how the council has gone about the assessment of the project to make sure it measures up, and all the right processes have been followed,” he said.
As is usual with large planning proposals, staff will make a recommendation on whether the project should be approved and councillors attending the SDC meeting will decide whether to proceed with it.
The expert traffic consultants are a Sydney firm who will assess parking and traffic numbers, and movements at different times of the day, as counted by meters and analysed by staff.
They will also give a professional assessment of the traffic study as provided by the applicant.
The council received 77 submissions on the McDonald’s development after the DA was put on public display last year.