In Gateshead, a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), supported by an integrated public health policy, has been used successfully to control the proliferation of takeaways in areas with high levels of child obesity.
What was involved
Nearly a quarter (23%) of 10 and 11 year olds in Gateshead are obese, above the national average (19%), and the trend in obesity in childhood has risen in recent years. Physical activity declines markedly during childhood, and many children and young people in the area do not eat a healthy diet as measured by 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
The Gateshead and Newcastle Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan (2015) set out an expressed intention to improve access to healthier food and control the location of and access to unhealthy food outlets. The Council had set a target to reduce childhood obesity to no more than 10% among Year 6 children in every ward.
Gateshead Council therefore developed a hot food takeaway SPD. In addition to a number of other criteria such as residential amenity, planning permission for a hot food takeaway will not be given where:
- children and young people congregate
- high levels of obesity are observed (using National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) data)
- there is an over proliferation of hot food takeaways
- clustering of hot food takeaways will have a negative impact on the vitality of the local area
All future hot food takeaway applications now need to be accompanied by a health impact assessment.
What works well
To produce the SPD and inform its content:
- food samples from takeaway outlets were collected and tested for nutritional quality and portion size
- the concentration of hot food takeaway outlets within each ward was measured by checking the retail health checks survey
- academic evidence on the link between obesity and exposure to takeaway outlets was reviewed
- ward level prevalence of obesity among Year 6 children was obtained from the NCMP
The conditions set out in the SPD mean that there are currently no locations where opening a new hot food takeaway would be suitable. Since the SPD was adopted, no new planning applications for hot food takeaways have been approved. The number of applications has also dropped.