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Last year, many Zuidas residents were far from delighted by the announcement that McDonald’s was set to open at Mahlerlaan 27. The fast-food chain is opening underneath the new Gustav north apartment block and is not the new neighbour many were hoping for. McDonald’s did agree to talk to residents, but this did not lead to the outcome that those objecting had hoped for.

‘Noise and odour nuisance’

Johannes Drees, who lives in the second building, The Gustav south, explains the disappointment: ‘The developer held out the prospect of a nice coffee bar and that’s also what was shown on the visuals. If a McDonald’s were to open somewhere else in Zuidas, under an office building or on Mahlerplein or Zuidplein, we wouldn’t really have minded. But the fact that MacDonald’s will now be directly under our flats is not what we were expecting, especially in view of the potential for noise and odour nuisance. I also find it strange that the 2012 zoning plan was never altered. Zuidas has seen some incredible changes in recent years and, besides, the council is focusing on a high-quality look and feel, an attractive place to live and less fast food. It feels to me that the arrival of McDonald’s is at odds with that.’

Category 1 hospitality and catering

More than 80 people submitted objections to the Zuid city district, which had to grant the operating licence. ‘We understand the perspective of residents, but there are no legal grounds for refusing a licence to McDonald’s’, said a spokesperson. In 2012, a zoning plan was approved for this area, permitting hospitality and catering in category 1. That covers caterers, ice cream parlours, restaurants, and fast-food suppliers. As a result, McDonald’s is permitted to open from 07.00 to 01.00 and at weekends until 03.00 at night, just like other branches. ‘If it causes any disturbance, we will of course take action and step in.’ The storage room for the future restaurant has also been given approval. It will be based elsewhere, at Gustav Mahlerlaan 9. ‘Our lawyers investigated whether we could refuse this application, but McDonald’s was able to show that a storage room is permitted to be used without a licence. Even if it’s not based at the same address’, said the spokesman for the city district.

The downstairs area under discussion

Amazed

Despite the fact that the licence has been granted, residents are still contemplating further action. Drees: ‘Many people are still amazed by this decision and feel disappointed by the council.’ In the meantime, a lawsuit is being brought against the Homeowners’ Association of The Gustav from the opposing side, by the owner of the business space being let to McDonald’s. The grounds: residents are refusing to approve the modifications McDonald’s wants to make to the building. ‘These modifications are set to have such a major impact on the comfort of residents that we are continuing to object and it could go all the way to the Council of State.’

Contradictions

‘This case is full of contradictions’, sighs Drees. ‘In the sales process and deed of division, the council placed numerous demands on us as owners. These include owner occupation, but also a rule prohibiting noise nuisance after 20.00. With that in mind, it’s strange that a McDonald’s is being permitted that will be open until 03.00 at night at weekends, and where delivery scooters will be coming and going, especially now. And what about our communal roof terrace? There are now plans for a huge extractor system to expel air from the fryers. But residents are not even permitted to have barbecues. And I haven’t even mentioned the new storage room yet. That will cause disruption from trucks and carts that will continually be going to and from over the payment between the buildings. It’s astounding that the council has granted such a flexible operating licence for two areas that are separated by a wide communal space and are therefore not even connected to each other.’

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