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Limiting new hot food takeaways in Northumberland

New takeaways would only be allowed in certain places under the draft policy.
New takeaways would only be allowed in certain places under the draft policy.

A policy which would limit new hot food takeaways looks set to be introduced in Northumberland, partly due to concerns over childhood obesity.

In a first for the county, the council’s draft Local Plan, which is currently out for public consultation, contains a specific policy on hot food takeaways.

It would stop new outlets being opened in areas where there are already high levels of overweight/obese children or within 400 metres of schools or colleges.

They would also be prohibited in places which already have a large number of takeaways or where it would replace the last convenience shop or pub in a village or parade of shops.

The draft plan recognises that hot food takeaways are ‘a familiar feature of town centres and other shopping centres and are regarded by many as an essential service’.

However, it adds that ‘they can proliferate and cluster’, changing the character of an area ‘through indiscriminate parking and other disturbances such as noise and smells late at night’.

The plan also explains that ‘in recent years, they have been associated with encouraging unhealthy eating, especially among children’, while there has also ‘been a tendency for takeaways to occupy shop units in local parades and even in villages, which may only have a very limited retail presence’.

Therefore, the policy says that, among other limitations, hot food takeaways would not be permitted in a main town or electoral division where more than 35.3 per cent of Year 6 pupils are classified as overweight or obese (this figure is the proportion of children who were overweight or obese in the county in 2016/17).

They would also not be allowed where the existing number of takeaways equals or exceeds the Northumberland total as of March this year – 0.69 per 1,000 resident population, or where they would create or add to a cluster of three or more adjacent establishments in the same row of shop units.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service