Several local authorities have developed supplementary planning documents (SPDs) to restrict the development of new fast food premises close to schools and/or to restrict the clustering and over concentration of such premises.
In doing so, the SPDs aim to tackle environmental (e.g. litter, noise, smells) and health issues (e.g. child obesity and the related health concerns of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease) posed by the proliferation of hot food takeaways.
The London Borough of Waltham Forest was the first council to develop an SPD specifically to tackle the health impacts of hot food takeaways, by restricting their development around ‘the school fringe’. The Borough worked closely with London Metropolitan University, whose research on shops forming ‘the school fringe’ found that these shops are popular with students, yet tend to sell food of poor nutritional quality that contributes a significant proportion of students’ fat, salt and sugar intake.
Public consultation on fast food takeaways highlighted objections to the negative effects of takeaways, both to the local environment and to health. To tackle the problem, planners set up a hot food takeaway corporate steering group than including NHS representatives. Information from the academic research and pubic consultation were used with existing planning policy guidance to develop a hot food takeaway SPD. The SPD tackled the issues of over concentration, clustering as well as proximity to schools, youth facilities and parks.
The SPD states that “planning permissions will not usually be granted for Hot Food Takeaway shops which fall within a 10 minute walking distance from the boundary of either a school facility, any youth facility or any designated parks”. The 10 minute walking distance is, taking into consideration the physical barriers encountered while walking, considered to represent a distance of 400m (a distance now widely used by other local authorities).
Since 2009 when the council adopted the SPD 82 percent of planning applications for fast food outlets have been refused.
Waltham Forest recognises that restricting new hot food takeaways from opening is only a part of a wider approach to reducing unhealthy eating and that it is important for planners to work closely with other departments, such as public health. Environmental health officers and dieticians are involved in the Healthier Catering Commitment for London, running workshops for fast food businesses on healthier fast food and encouraging food businesses to take part in the Healthier Catering Commitment Scheme.
- Waltham Forest Hot Food Takeaway SPD
- Takeaways Toolkit
- Waltham Forest SPD background – Local Government website