A proposal to introduce a new planning policy that would distance fast food outlets from all schools in South Gloucestershire is to be fast-tracked following intervention by the local authority’s Conservative administration.
The possibility of creating ‘fast food exclusion zones’ was initially put forward by Bradley Stoke South councillor Roger Avenin in a written motion tabled for discussion at a meeting of Full Council on 15th July 2020.
Cllr Avenin strongly opposed the recent granting of planning permission for two new drive-through takeaway restaurants, to be operated by McDonald’s and Starbucks, at Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook shopping centre and subsequently penned a letter to the Journal asking ‘What are they doing to our town centre?’
His submitted motion called on the council to “protect the health of our young people” by “restricting the development and licensing of any further fast food outlets from operating within a minimum of 400 metres of all schools across South Gloucestershire”. This would be achieved through the council’s emerging new Local Plan and Council Plan, two top-level planning policy documents which will set out the long-term vision for South Gloucestershire over the coming years.
Unfortunately for Cllr Avenin, the meeting on 15th July ran out of time and was brought to end before his motion could be debated, resulting in it being deferred to the next scheduled meeting in October.
However, the council’s leadership has now stepped in and declared its intention to fast-track Cllr Avenin’s exclusion zone proposal with a view to including it in the first draft of the new Local Plan, which is currently due to be published for consultation in September.
The process for adopting the Local Plan is a lengthy one, involving several rounds of consultation and an ‘examination in public’ by an independent government-appointed inspector, so it is likely to be some years before any new policies take effect – the current timetable foresees an adoption date of December 2023.
Welcoming the leadership’s decision, Cllr Avenin said:
“I am delighted the Cabinet has agreed to take these plans forward. While I wish the council would have had the opportunity to discuss the motion and demonstrate what I would hope was a cross-party appreciation, October’s meeting is too long to wait and I appreciate the need to press on.”
“With so many leading national public health bodies pointing to a causal link between the growth of fast food outlets and childhood obesity, there is a clear need to act and where we, as a council, can help by thinking outside the box and using powers within our gift, we should.”
Cllr Toby Savage, leader of South Gloucestershire Council, said:
“As local councillors, we all want to help make a positive difference to our communities, and I believe Roger’s motion does just that. By introducing these restrictions, we can help schools, parents and carers to ensure young people are more likely to benefit from a balanced diet.”
“As a local authority currently consulting on a new Council Plan and working towards public consultation on a new Local Plan, South Gloucestershire Council is in a unique position to make meaningful change and take a holistic approach towards putting public health and the next generation first, and I am pleased Roger has taken the initiative to present something fresh.”
More information and related links:
- Cllr Avenin’s written motion of 15th July (item #4 refers)
- South Gloucestershire Local Plan 2020
- Local Plan Delivery Programme
This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 31). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
Update: Local Plan Phase 1 – Consultation Document
Added 3rd October 2020.
The South Gloucestershire Council – Local Plan 2020 Phase 1 – Consultation Document will be presented to a meeting of Cabinet on 5th October 2020. The meeting agenda and reports may be viewed here.
Relevant extract from the Phase 1 – Consultation Document (page 24):
16. Takeaways and schools
South Gloucestershire’s Healthy Weight Obesity Strategy sets out the desire to restrict the number of fast food outlets (takeaways) in communities, especially near schools, due to rising levels of childhood obesity and the impact this has on well-being and inequalities in our area. The plan will need to take account of, and support, strategies to improve health, social and cultural well-being for all, especially children.
New planning policy requirements and other planning mechanisms will need to be explored, to control the number of takeaways that are located in close proximity to our schools.
On page 129, it is stated that a policy with the working title ‘Food and Drink Uses: Locational Constraints (including schools)’ will be presented in a future Phase 2 – Consultation Document.
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