Plan to ‘super-size’ Sydney Cremorne McDonalds with dual-lane drive-thru opposed by health authority

Plan to ‘super-size’ a McDonalds with dual-lane drive-thru in wealthy suburb is opposed by local health authority over fears residents will become obese

  • Local fury over McDonalds plan to ‘super-size’ its drive-through services
  • Cremorne franchise proposed $500k redevelopment to install second lane 
  • Health officials believe it will increase obesity in the affluent Sydney suburb 

A popular McDonalds in an affluent Sydney suburb is at war with its local health authority after announcing plans to ‘super-size’ its drive-through.

The franchise in Cremorne, a leafy suburb on the city’s North Shore, sits at a busy thoroughfare between the Northern Beaches and city providing fast food for travellers and the area’s pub goers.

It has lodged a $550,000 renovation plan to double its drive-through capacity with a new dual-lane window that will see 14 extra people served at one time. 

But healthcare officials say the increased service lane will see an impact on the area’s obesity rates.

Cremorne McDonalds in Sydney’s affluent north have proposed a $500,000 redevelopment that would double its drive-through capacity

McDonalds said the move is in line with post-pandemic eating habits, with people more likely and willing to order and eat in their cars rather than walk inside restaurants.

The $548,620 redevelopment would see the carpark spaces reduced from 35 to 26, an outdoor terrace removed and 22 outdoor seats taken away. The counter and McCafé would also be moved to accommodate the new design.

There has been stiff opposition to the proposal from the Northern Sydney Local Health District, who say it will raise ‘health impacts’ including ‘obesity’ rates.

‘There is a concern that increasing accessibility to fast food, via an expanded drive-through, may negatively influence the eating habits of children and adults, and undermine existing population health strategies to tackle obesity,’ the organisation said.

‘Data from the Australian Urban Observatory shows that Cremorne already has more than adequate access to fast food. Providing greater access to fast food via an expanded, dual lane drive-through is unlikely to result in positive population health outcomes.’

The $548,620 redevelopment would see the carpark spaces reduced from 35 to 26, an outdoor terrace removed and 22 outdoor seats taken away

The $548,620 redevelopment would see the carpark spaces reduced from 35 to 26, an outdoor terrace removed and 22 outdoor seats taken away

Andrew Wheeler and Mary McCafferty, two senior managers with the Health District, said the new design will discourage people attending via foot or bicycle, asking for more places for people to arrive on two wheels.

They said the McDonalds’ proximity to the established Cremorne Community Health Centre, which provides disability and multicultural health support services, is also a concern. 

‘Accordingly, the centre’s vulnerable persons may not be able to park in the vicinity of the centre to attend their health appointments and this may lead to vulnerable persons’ declining health,’ the group said.

Despite those fears, the Cremorne McDonalds is the only franchise in the North Sydney Council area, which has an obesity rate of 19 per cent in adults – well below the state’s 33 per cent average.

In a response, McDonalds said it had introduced a range of new healthy options for customers and the majority of their restaurants had dual lane drive-throughs. 

‘McDonald’s has been part of the Cremorne community for more than 40 years. We are reinvesting into the restaurant to make it more accessible and convenient for our customers and crew,’ a spokeswoman said.

‘Throughout the pandemic, we experienced a considerable increase in drive-through numbers. An additional lane will improve efficiency and reduce traffic congestion for our customers.’

‘In the last two years there has been an increase in transactions in the drive through of 8.3 per cent which has been offset by a reduction in over-the-counter sales.

‘The second drive-through lane will substantially increase the queuing capacity of the operation and provide a second point of order and will minimise the queuing impact on the internal carparking area, reducing congestion and reliance on carparking.’

2GB Radio host Ben Fordham weighed in on the issue on Wednesday night, saying the Health District’s concerns were a non-issue.

‘Seriously? What a ridiculous example of Government overreach,’ he said.

‘McDonald’s makes the point that most of their outlets have two drive through lanes now anyway.’