DEBRA NASH: "Space might have been used better as a three storey carpark for people parking in town however if having a carpark generates more jobs at McDonald's it's good for Bundaberg” Mike Knott BUN220318MCDONALDS1

EXCLUSIVE: McDonald's plan for CBD car parking

THEY'RE not quite paving paradise to put up a parking lot, but McDonald's is proposing to knock down a building that has brought a little ray of sunshine to many lives during its 96-year history.

Bundaberg Regional Council has received a material change of use application from McDonald's to knock down the former Salvation Army Citadel in Targo St, and replace it with parking.

According to the town planning report prepared by Urbis, the proposed development involves the demolition of the buildings next to the Bundaberg City restaurant, as well as the conversion of the restaurant's drive-through to a dual-lane facility.

"The proposed works will deliver ... improvements to restaurant efficiency and service ... an additional 28 car parking spaces to service the restaurant ... an increase in the drive-through queuing capacity to 15 cars ... and a dual-lane drive-through facility,” the report states.

While the removal of the former Salvos Citadel might raise a few eyebrows, the report says the land is not on a register within the council's Heritage and Neighbourhood Character Overlay, meaning no formal plans limit the demolition or removal of buildings.

"It is noted that the Salvation Army structures have been located on the land (in one form or another) for approximately 96 years,” the report states.

"Although the buildings have been heavily altered over past years it is reasonable to suggest that many community members would have a level of familiarity with this premises and the removal of the structures would not go unnoticed.”

Franchisee Craig Manley welcomed the move by McDonald's Australia, saying parking limitations in the CBD had been an issue for many years.

"Bundaberg city has always struggled to have enough parking and it will certainly alleviate the need for our customers to park on the street,” he said.

"And the idea is the dual-lane drive-through will increase capacity and will speed up drive-though service.

"We're all seeking convenience and speed and if you can park at the front door it is far better than parking a block away.”

Mr Manley and wife Mel are also the franchisees of the Bundaberg West, Bargara, Gympie and two Hervey Bay stores.

He said the Targo St store employed 120 staff.

Across their six stores they have between 600 and 700 staff.

Mr Manley said while he had not been privy to discussions between the council and McDonald's Australia representatives, he expected, if approved, the project would go ahead next year.

It's clear, however, that McDonald's is confident the project will get the green light, with the application stating "no key issues have been identified and both formal and informal pre-lodgement discussions have been undertaken with Bundaberg Regional Council”.

Carolyn Archer

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