The draft London Plan was published on 29 November 2017. It includes a controversial new Economic Policy (draft Policy E9), which states that A5 hot food takeaways should not be permitted where located within 400m walking distance of an existing or proposed primary or secondary school.

The Policy was put forward following recommendations from health experts to help create a ‘healthier food environment’ around schools. The draft Plan notes that the number of hot food takeaways has been steadily rising in London, with the highest concentration of these being in more deprived areas. Children living in these more deprived areas are considered to be twice as likely to be obese as those living in other areas. While it is recognised that causes of childhood obesity are complex, the ‘takeaway ban’ has been put forward as one way of addressing the issue.

Policies of similar effect have already been adopted by Borough Councils in London such as Newham, Waltham Forest, Islington and Barking and Dagenham, and a 2010 High Court ruling saw a planning permission granted to a fast food takeaway, which was to be set up near a school with a healthy eating policy in Tower Hamlets, quashed.

The draft Policy also states that:

  • Boroughs may set a locally-determined boundary, if sufficiently justified.
  • Boroughs should consider whether it is appropriate to manage an over-concentration of A5 takeaway uses within Local, District and other town centres via locally-defined thresholds in Development Plans.
  • Where development proposals involving A5 hot food takeaway uses are permitted, the operator should be conditioned to achieve, and operate in compliance with, the Healthier Catering Commitment Standard.

Comment

The proposal is concerning for operators of hot food takeaways because a 400m radius around all existing or proposed primary and secondary schools in London would leave very little, if any, room for new outlets. In addition, the ban of all development within the A5 use class is at the expense of healthy hot food takeaways, since there is no distinction within the A5 use category as to the type of food being sold.

The consultation period is due to close on Friday 2 March.