Lawyer Kim Kroon, who represents the Homeowners’ Association, is content with the ruling. ‘The most important thing is that the judge found that the residents were right not to approve the McDonald’s in September 2020.’ She demonstrated that there were still too many unanswered questions at that time, meaning that residents did not have enough information to give their consent or not. The court has now accepted that argument.
‘It’s not that we are against a McDonald’s in Zuidas’, explains Angelique van Wees, resident of The Gustav. ‘But we are seriously concerned about this particular location on the ground floor of our residential building. You have to remember that McDonald’s stays open until 3 a.m. and changes would also need to be made to the building that would affect our quality of life. A large heat pump would be needed on the roof, for example, which the judge has now said will not be allowed. We were also concerned about noise pollution from delivery vehicles and visitors. We drew up a list of 32 questions for McDonald’s in the summer of 2020 and were looking forward to some answers. Unfortunately, McDonald’s only answered some of those questions at the request of the District Court on 27 January 2021. That meant that we did not have enough information when we needed it, so we could not approve the arrival of McDonald’s in the building.’
Ball is now in McDonald’s court
Legally, there are two main requirements in order for McDonald’s to move in here, Kroon explains. ‘Firstly, the City of Amsterdam needs to have issued a local planning permit. Secondly, the McDonald’s location must comply with the rules of the Homeowners Association, and particularly the rules arising from the deed of division.’ The planning permit was granted at the start of this year based on the local zoning plan for the Gershwin area. But because that plan dates from 2012, many homeowners have appealed against this, because Zuidas is very different today to how it was then, and many more people live there now. The legal case continues. As for Homeowners Association rules, it is now up to McDonald’s and the owner of the space owner, Gingko Biloba, to make the next move. They could still try to find a solution together with the residents. Or they could appeal against the judge’s decision.
‘No cooperation from residents’
In a response, lawyers acting on behalf of the owner Gingko commented that it is ‘a pity that residents and users, despite various meetings and invitations to do so, have not yet agreed to cooperate on a number of (standard) requests to improve the appearance, sustainability and accessibility of the restaurant.’ McDonald’s wants to ‘continue discussions with residents with the ultimate aim of creating a location that is consistent with the international allure of Zuidas and provides a pleasant setting for users and residents to meet. Even after the restaurant is operational, McDonald’s is always willing to continue to discuss improvements in order to create an environment in which everyone feels comfortable.’