Taking away fast food takeaways

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Fast food takeaways will not be allowed to open within walking distance of schools in the future, the council has pledged.

In a bid to tackle childhood obesity in Leyland, South Ribble Council has drawn up strict new guidelines to stop takeaways opening within 400m ‘exclusion zones’ around primary schools, high schools and colleges across the borough.

It comes as new figures from the NHS reveal that almost 20% of Year 6 pupils are classed as obese in South Ribble, and research shows that the most popular time for youngsters and teens to buy fast food is on their way home from school.

Amy Witherup, NHS Central Lancashire public health associate, said: “There is increasing evidence on the impact that hot food takeaways, located in the vicinity of schools, may have on the health of children and young people.

“The public health implications of hot food takeaways can be wide ranging and include poor nutritional quality of foods offered, increased traffic flow and road safety implications, and environmental considerations such as noise, litter and cooking odours.”

The council is now trying to use its powers to ensure that future planning applications for takeaways will be automatically refused if they are located too close to schools and colleges.

The council’s ‘Access to Healthy Food’ document, which introduces the idea, states: “An obese adolescent is likely to remain so during adulthood, increasing the risk of many serious diseases such as type two diabetes, heart disease, and a reduced life expectancy.”

The scheme also focuses on limiting the number of takeaways allowed in Leyland town centre, in a hope of avoiding ‘clusters’ of fast food joints opening up in small areas.

Currently, there are 42 takeaways listed in Leyland on the Food Standards Agency website, out of 96 across the whole of South Ribble. As well as restricting the development of future takeaways in the borough, the council also wants to use its influence in planning to promote more allotments and community food growing opportunities.

The document was voted through, as part of the wider Local Development Framework, at a special council meeting this month.

It has now been sent off for approval by a planning inspector, and if passed, is set to be implemented as early as Spring next year.

- For a special report on the plans, see this week’s Leyland Guardian