McDonald's controversial plan to build a 24-hour fast-food outlet in the farmland development suburb of Wongawilli should be knocked back, according to Wollongong City Council planners.
In a report published on Thursday, the council said the proposal was inappropriate for the site, was considered out of character with the area and did not address the desired village character as required under the city's West Dapto Vision.
The scathing report - which also details adverse visual, noise, light spill and air impacts and traffic problems with the plan - matches with the views of residents in the suburb, who have been protesting the fast-food giant's proposal since it was first revealed last November.
The residents say they were told when buying their housing lots that the site would become a "neighbourhood centre" with services like a hairdresser and perhaps a green grocer or independent supermarket, and have argued that the McDonald's proposal will badly affect their living environment.
Council staff have found a litany of problems with the plan, and have also criticised the company for not responding to their requests for more information despite repeated requests and extensions of time.
In particular, they said the golden arches signage was going to be a problem, as it would "dominate the skyline and important vistas of the Illawarra Escarpment".
"All pylon signage is excessive in height and size," the report said. "Illuminated signage is not in character with the abutting residential area.
"It is considered a negative impact due to lack of imagination and innovation - corporate signage proposed without consideration of the local area."
As well as the McDonald's, the company wants to build a service station and a childcare facility, as well as a number of shops at the site.
This combination of uses has attracted criticism from the council, which says having a childcare centre next to a service station "poses significant risks to the health, safety and wellbeing of children".
As children spend a significant amount of their time interacting in the outdoor environment, in the sand pit and on the ground, the risk of ingesting contaminated soil is significant.
"Service stations store and handle large amounts of hazardous chemicals... which present unique hazards due to the flammability of their products," the council said.
"Emissions and airborne fuel particles have potential to settle in the soil, grass and sand pit of the child care facility.
"As children spend a significant amount of their time interacting in the outdoor environment, in the sand pit and on the ground, the risk of ingesting contaminated soil is significant."
The development application will go before the Wollongong Local Planning Panel next week, where residents and the company will be able to air their views.
The independent assessment body will then have its say on whether it should be approved.
However, even if it does receive a knock-back, the company has already lodged a court challenge which means the final decision could be left in the hands of the state's Land and Environment Court.
Previously, McDonald's has argued that its Wongawilli plan will create jobs and economic investment in Wollongong.
"The development will generate approximately 200 jobs during construction and the McDonald's alone will create 100 new employment opportunities for Wollongong locals in fulltime, part-time and casual roles, once operational," the company said in a statement.
"We believe the Wongawilli site provides an excellent opportunity for McDonald's to generate new employment, training, local community engagement and support."