Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

McDonald's neighbours sick of noise

Photo / Brett Phibbs
Photo / Brett Phibbs

Neighbours of the Belmont McDonald's restaurant are opposing its bid for a "retrospective" consent for 24-hour trade after years of putting up with late-night customers screaming and shouting, and loud car stereos.

In March 2008, residents formally complained that the start of 24-hour operations had brought noise problems.

What they did not know, said resident Tom Wong Kam, was their complaint prompted North Shore City Council to obtain a legal opinion.

This implied that the original resource consent was not intended for a constant operation.

"This was never conveyed to us," he said.

McDonald's said yesterday its 24-hour trading reflected earlier legal advice that the present resource consent had no restrictions.

Mr Wong Kam said the head office's response to noise complaints included fitting a chain to block off the carpark after 10pm.

However, vehicles just rammed through it - with such force that the steel hook was yanked out of the concrete wall it was fastened to.

The glass front door of a shop was broken and police called to assaults and thefts outside McDonald's several times this year.

Fast food wrappers and drink cartons were being thrown over neighbours' fences.

At a hearing by Auckland Council commissioners yesterday, lawyer Richard Brabant said McDonald's sought a retrospective consent for the drive-through and walk-up counter to operate 24 hours within the building.

The application also sought approval for a 5am start for the restaurant.

Consent was needed for alterations and additions to the existing restaurant on the corner of Lake Rd and Bayswater Ave as well as a McCafe sign. Extensions would give a new children's playground and a bigger operations area for the drive-through.

Mr Brabant said McDonald's was granted planning approval for the restaurant and drive-through in December 1989.

The consent did not include a condition controlling hours of operation or specifying any particular noise levels.

When McDonald's adopted 24/7 trading hours as its preferred model for restaurants in this country, the company sought legal advice about whether Belmont could continue to trade around the clock.

The answer was it could continue.

However, planning consultant Jenny Hudson told the company they should apply and an application was made in November last year.

A council planning report supported the granting of consents.

McDonald's national operations manager Katrina Gray said Belmont had 15 complaints about noise, litter and security in 2007-2008 but after the company's changes the number dropped to 11 during the next two years and to nil in the last year.

McDonald's staff made daily litter patrols out to 200m from the premises.

Residents want two litter patrols a day and trading at the walk-up counter and drive through to be cut to 5am to midnight Monday to Saturday and 5am to 11pm on Sunday.

- NZ Herald

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