Burger fans in South Tyneside will soon be spoilt for choice - but it might not happen again if council health chiefs have their way.
Work has started on a new Burger King drive-thru restaurant, just yards from the existing McDonald’s outlet on Newcastle Road, South Shields.
But the burger bar double act could be the last as council bosses face up to an obesity “time bomb” following shock new figures which show that over a third of youngsters in the borough finish their primary school years classed either as overweight or obese.
Council bosses are revising the Local Plan to take into account any new applications from hot foot takeaways in an attempt to promote a more healthy borough.
A council spokeswoman said: “The council does not currently have an adopted planning policy regarding obesity and public health however it remains a material planning consideration in the determination of planning applications. The council is currently working on revising its Local Plan which, if adopted, would include policies in respect of obesity and public health.
We need this like a hole in the head.Coun Lee Hughes
“Whilst any new policy would not mean that all similar establishments would be refused, significant consideration would be given for any future applications as a result of recent evidence focusing on hot food takeaways and the role of planning and environmental health in helping to promote healthy environments.” Work has already started building the Burger King drive-thru restaurant – which was previously the site of the ARC Car Wash – and it will be just a few feet away from McDonald’s.
Plans, which have been approved by South Tyneside Council’s planning department, show that the motorists will drive round Burger King in an anti-clockwise route and will be in almost touching distance of customers using McDonald’s facilities in a clockwise route.
Neither Burger King or Mcdonald’s were available for comment on the new development.
Entry to both chains will be from the slip road off Shaftesbury Avenue and there will also be 14 new car parking spaces created.
South Tyneside’s obesity crisis was highlighted in a report last week which showed 16.3% of 11-year-olds in the borough as classed as “overweight” while 23.1% are “obese”.
South Tyneside Council’s lead member for public health and wellbeing, Councillor Margaret Smith, said: “These are worrying figures. Changing attitudes to eating and exercise is vital to prevent children from growing up with a time bomb of health problems and poor lifestyle choices.”
A concerned councillor says the new fast food restaurant will lead to more traffic problems.
Councillor Lee Hughes, a Putting People First Representative for the Bede ward in South Shields, says there is already significant traffic congestion in the area.
He fears that, once Burger King opens, it will add to the problem and the roads will become gridlocked.
He said: “I can’t believe there’s going to be two fast food drive-thru chains right next to each other like this. It’s ridiculous.
“There is already major congestion at certain times of the day with people trying to get to McDonald’s and others trying to get to the carpark at Tesco.
“It’s very busy and there’s a lot of waiting around and dodging of cars.”
Coun Hughes believes that traffic will end up backed up along Shaftesbury Avenue and on to the main Newcastle Road.
He said: “Newcastle Road is very busy, and cars will be turning left to gain access to the drive-thru via Shaftesbury Avenue, it won’t take much before it will be gridlocked.”