In August 2017, the ACT Planning and Land Authority refused an Application from KFC to build both a restaurant and takeaway store at 50 Emu Bank (Block 83, Section 65, Belconnen), the site adjacent to the Belconnen Skate Park and opposite the Altitude Apartment Complex. The proposal was for a store with a gross floor area of roughly 300 square metres, which exceeded the cap of 250 square metres for shops in commercial zones, which is a mandatory requirement.
The Authority based its original decision that it “must not” approve any development that is inconsistent with the Territory Plan (prescribed by s 46 of the Planning Act), which includes various development codes.
KFC appealed the decision on 14 December 2017 and had it overturned in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This was later appealed by ACTPLA in the Supreme Court and the appeal revolved around Rule 56 of the CZ Code (Rule 56) which required each “shop” to have a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 250m2. The appeal was granted by the Supreme Court in November 2018.
The ruling by the Supreme Court however did not extinguished KFC’s lease over the land at 50 Emu Bank and it may operate a facility on the site as long as any new application complies with the Code. KFC currently operates an identical site on Lake Tuggeranong which is just over 200 square metres.
In recent years, the 50 Emu Bank has been used to stage the construction of the Belconnen Bikeway as well as temporary parking for builders of Geocon’s Apartment complexes and users of the Belconnen Skate Park.
KFC submitted updated plans to ACTPLA in mid-to-late 2020 and they were informed on 17 December 2020 that these have been approved by the ACT Government.
The approval to proceed comes despite the initial backlash to the proposal by KFC in the first instance. The Age reported in May 2018 that Belconnen Skate Park users and the Belconnen Community Council were amongst those community members who felt that litter, traffic and antisocial behaviour around the skatepark will be impacted.
The then Belconnen Community Council Chair suggested that the proposed building of KFC Belconnen at Emu Bank “did not fit” Belconnen Master Plan (September 2016), which states that “a lakeside dining promenade would form the core of this precinct, with larger, better quality outdoor dining areas facing the lake, a greater choice of venues that includes takeaway facilities as well as higher-end restaurants and a more attractive presentation to both the lake and the street at Emu Bank”.
Since the beginning of May 2021, construction work on the new KFC Belconnen store of 248sqm has started on the site. There will be new entry and exit points onto Emu Bank with a Drive Through area adjacent to Soundy Close. Additional car parking will be built along Emu Bank along with Pedestrian access as well, opposite both Altitude and Republic apartment complexes.
KFC Belconnen is being built by the Southern Restaurants Group which is the largest private KFC franchise owner in Australia operating in VIC, ACT and NSW with over 6000 employees. In April 2021, SRG opened their 82nd Restaurant at Baxter in the Mornington Peninsula.