BALLARAT looks set to get its fifth McDonald’s restaurant, prompting calls from health authorities that it could lead to increased rates of obesity-related disease.
The fast food company is currently investigating whether or not to build another outlet in Ballarat at the new shopping centre at Lucas, which opened last year.
McDonald’s spokesperson Skye Oxenham said the company had not yet confirmed whether it intended to build at the site, but said it was considering it.
In its plans for the site, property development company Integra includes two locations at the Lucas Town Centre for “future family restaurants”.
Business owners at the centre say they have been told to expect a McDonald’s restaurant in the near future.
“There is no set timeframe at this stage,” said Ms Oxenham.
“The things we consider for potential locations include the availability of sites, suitable zoning, access to major thoroughfares, population growth and local demand.”
There are currently four McDonald’s restaurants operating across Ballarat in Bakery Hill, Sebastopol, Wendouree and Sturt Street.
By comparison, Bendigo also has four outlets with a similar population, meaning Ballarat will go one up on its regional rival should Lucas get the green light.
Craig Sinclair, director of the Cancer Prevention Centre at Cancer Council Victoria, said increasing the amount of fast food restaurants would make it harder for people to choose a healthier diet.
“Certainly in a city like Ballarat, where we’ve got almost two thirds of the population either overweight or obese, opening another fast food restaurant isn’t going to help reduce the risk of chronic disease,” he said.
“You would have thought that with already four McDonald’s already open in the Ballarat region we’re already at the point of saturation.”
Established businesses unsure how they will fare
LOCAL businesses are already preparing for the introduction of a new McDonald’s restaurant at Lucas.
Situated only a short walk from the expected site of the new restaurant is The Lucas Town Cafe.
Owner Kevin Jin said he was told last year to expect the fast-food chain to open a store in the area in the near future.
Lucas Town Café manager Barbara Achison and owner Kevin Jin.
One of the biggest problems for the store will be competing with the prices of the major chain store.
“McDonald’s is cheaper, no one is going to beat McDonald’s,” Mr Jin said.
“We are a coffee shop, I don’t think McDonald’s coffee is popular.
"I am 100 per cent sure, if they are coming, I will lose customers"
“I am 100 per cent sure, if they are coming, I will lose customers at lunch time, like builders.”
Mr Jin said he believed his business would be still be viable with other similar stores in major cities still thriving with a McDonald’s close by.
The Lucas Town Cafe has been getting a good portion of its business from local builders in the area who are constructing parts of the Lucas shopping precinct.
“Younger people will go there, I am sure of that,” Mr Jin said.
Mr Jin said he believed their coffee as one of their strengths and was hoping it would help to keep their regular customers coming back.
Manager Barbara Archison said she was shocked when she was told about the possibility of the Golden Arches opening up in the area.
“I said ‘are you joking?’” she said.
“They don’t really need another McDonald’s in Ballarat.
“They have their cafes over there so it is going to impact us but we just hope our coffee is better than theirs.”