26 Nov 2008

Opposition to Nelson McDonald's trading 24/7

11:20 pm on 26 November 2008

McDonald's restaurant in Nelson is running into stiff opposition as it moves to extend trading around the clock, seven days a week.

The owner of the McDonald's franchise says he is providing a service to people wanting to eat after the clubs close, but those neighbouring the fast food outlet say late-night openings are already attracting mobs of noisy, drunken people.

For the past year, McDonald's has been opening until 7am at weekends in Nelson, but says it did not realise it was breaking council zoning rules by doing so.

The council has ordered McDonald's to stop. In response, the franchise has appealed to the Enviroment Court and is applying to the council for resource consent to trade continuously.

The owner of the franchise, Matt Smith, says he is just trying to provide a service. He says troublemakers are a very small minority and that anti-social behaviour in the city was happening long before McDonald's began opening all hours.

However, Palace Backpackers owner David Enting says since McDonald's began trading until 7am, an increasing number of intoxicated people have been gathering at there after the clubs close at 3am.

Mr Enting's business is across the road from McDonald's and he says there is now a lot of noise, rubbish in the streets and people have been urinating nearby. He has hired a lawyer to oppose McDonald's application.

Nelson police says McDonald's cannot be blamed for all the problems, as there is a 24-hour service station, taxi stand and bus stop attracting people to the area late at night.

The issue now for McDonald's is to convince a resource commissioner to allow it to operate around the clock, despite its premises being 5.3 metres closer to a residential zone than the council allows.

McDonald's proposes getting around the rule by fencing off a car park and one street frontage during late-night opening - a move which would mean the premises would then be the required 50 metres from homes.

Commissioner Camilla Owen says she will make a decision before Christmas.