Council chiefs have banned a hot food outlet from opening - the first crackdown of its kind in the fight against childhood obesity in South Tyneside.
They have turned down a plan for a new takeaway in the centre of South Shields – citing sky-high obesity levels among kids.
Under powers passed in November, they can block such businesses in wards where a 10 per cent obesity rate has been recorded in Year 6 children - 10 and 11-year-olds
Shock figures show in the Beacon and Bents ward - where the planning application was - 17.2 per cent of this age group are overweight.
Overall, the number of takeaways in South Tyneside has increased by 18 per cent since 2014.
Counc Tracey Dixon, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for independence and wellbeing, said she was pleased the new rule has played a role in determining the application.
She said: “The supplementary planning document was intended to help in our fight against obesity and health inequalities.
“We want to make it easier for people to make healthy choices in their diets and this is much harder if there is a proliferation of hot food takeaways where they live.
“Health is one of our key priorities and managing the prevalence of fast food outlets is an important factor in reducing the number of overweight or obese residents.”
West Midlands-based property agent London & Cambridge Properties Limited was behind the planning proposal.
It wanted to convert a former charity shop on the south-west corner of King Street - directly overlooking the market place.
Planners also said the outlet had the potential to cause serious visual blight to the Grade II listed Old Town Hall.
Built in 1768, the hall sits in the market place, only around 20 yards from the proposed development site.
National guidelines say councils have a statutory duty to preserve the setting of any listed building.
The council’s new supplementary planning policy aims to restrict the number of hot food and fast food outlets.
Figures show there are around 140 of these units selling pizza, fish and chips or kebabs, as well as Indian and Chinese takeaways.
National studies reveal they are more likely to be found in areas suffering the worst social deprivation.
In South Tyneside, 71.3 per cent of adults are classed as having excess weight, against a national average of 63 per cent.
According to the council, 28 per cent of children are overweight or obese.