Plans for HEALTHY takeaway to combat greasy food in Hebburn refused on grounds of childhood obesity

A businessman has been left fuming after a bid to open a healthy takeaway was turned down – because it fell foul of a council policy aimed at tackling childhood obesity.

By Poppy Kennedy
Monday, 05 August, 2019, 06:00
1 Victoria Road East, Hebburn. Picture by Frank Reid

Gary Craig submitted plans to open the business, which would sell alternatives to deep-fried foods commonly found in takeaways, in a shop unit in Victoria Road East, Hebburn.

But he was left dismayed when South Tyneside Council rejected the plans, citing its efforts to combat the borough’s health problems. A government planning inspector has also backed the council’s stance and rejected an appeal by Mr Craig.

Mr Craig, of Gary Craig Architectural Services Ltd, who was the planning applicant acting on behalf of another party, said when the planning application went to appeal, kitchen facilities needed to cook ‘typically greasy takeaway food’ were removed from proposals.

“What seems to have been missed is the fact that the commercial extractor fan was taken out so we would be providing a domestic style kitchen – meaning food would need to be grilled or oven-baked,” he said

“I don’t see how you can buck the trend of your greasy takeaways which are unhealthy if they’re not allowing the opportunity to provide a healthy alternative.

“In other areas there are a lot more healthy takeaways opening which have a lot of emphasis on fruit and veg and meat substitutes.

“We’d look to ensure that whoever took on the takeaway would provide healthy versions of say Italian or Indian food.

“The idea of a healthy takeaway is something we thought could be rolled out nationwide to tackle issues like childhood obesity but we can’t even get it to work in Hebburn.”

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South Tyneside Council introduced new planning guidance in 2017 which seeks to restrict the proliferation of hot food takeaways in the borough in an attempt to combat childhood obesity.

More than 25% of 10 and 11 year-old-children in this ward are classed as overweight or obese.

Since its introduction the scheme has been cited as a factor in three planning applications for fast food outlets which have been refused permission.

Councillor Tracey Dixon, Deputy Leader of the Council with responsibility for Independence and Wellbeing, said: “While we appreciate the applicant intended to only serve only healthy options, the applicant did not propose any way that the permission could be restricted to healthy food and the planning inspector agreed with the council that it would not be possible to restrict this through planning controls.

“Even if a takeaway selling only healthy food were to be established, in the future the premises may be sold or let to another operator who may wish to sell different food options.

“It is important to note that in in this area more than a third of 10 and 11-year-olds are classed as overweight or very overweight and we know that the proliferation of takeaways is simply adding to the problem.

“Improving the health of our residents remains one of the core priorities of the council. However, the number of takeaways in South Tyneside has increased by 18% since 2014, generally in areas of high deprivation, and this trend is at odds with our commitment to tackle obesity and health inequalities.”