Friday, December 19, 2014

News: McDonald's has beef with Rotherham planning policy

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Leading global food chain, McDonald's has registered its opposition to a proposed new planning policy that would not permit new hot food takeaways opening close to schools in Rotherham.


Rotherham Council has recently concluded consultation on the Sites and Policies document within its Local Plan which sets out the detailed sites and development management policies to deliver growth over the next 15 years.

Policy SP 25 would only allow hot food takeaways in town, district and local centres if it didn't result in more than 10% of the ground floor units becoming takeaways; result in a high concentration of these A5 classed units on the same street; or negatively impact upon the amenity of surrounding businesses or residents.

A further part of the policy states that hot food takeaways will not be permitted where they are within 800 metres of a primary school, secondary school or college, except where they are within a defined town, district or local centre and satisfy the requirements above.

Rotherham's policy states that it is guided by national planning policy which encourages local planning authorities to support local strategies to improve health and wellbeing and help create a healthier built environment. It adds: "Policy SP25 therefore seeks to ensure that new hot food takeaways do not increase the exposure of school children and young adults to these uses. Hot food takeaways will only be permitted within town, district and local centres. The Council is aware that proposals may be submitted as a departure to the plan and that other material considerations may be taken into account in determining planning applications.

"To ensure that access to hot food takeaways are controlled the policy also makes clear that such uses will only be permitted within 800 metres of a primary or secondary school or college where they are within a town, district or local centre and meet the requirements of the policy. For the purposes of this policy 800m will be measured in a direct line from the school/college gate used by pupils."

McDonald's has responded to the consultation describing the policy as ambiguous, unjustified and unsound and adds that no justification for 800m exclusion zones is provided. It adds that the policy could impede sustainable growth and states that when McDonald's looks at the economic viability of a new site, it does not factor in predicted sales from school children or proximity to schools.

The response also states that there is a lack of evidence to demonstrate that purchases in fast food outlets are any more or less healthy than purchases in other premises and highlights the major steps that McDonald's has made in recent years to expand the range of healthy offerings.

The document submitted by Planware Ltd on behalf of McDonald's Restaurant Ltd states: "As a responsible business, McDonald's recognises it has a role to play to support its staff, customers, and the communities in which it operates to live healthier lifestyles. For this reason, McDonald's has invested significantly to evolve its menu over the last ten years – both to extend the range of choice, and to reformulate our products.

"The policy does not restrict the location of new A1, A3 or A4 [shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs] uses within the 800m zones and therefore the sale of food and drink will still occur. The proposed approach is therefore not effective and is unjustified. The policy will place a moratorium against one use class of development, but will not meet the ambition of the policy."

The new policy follows on from a case in 2012 when planning permission was secured for a KFC drive thru restaurant on a site close to Canklow Woods Primary School. Rotherham Council refused permission for the 300 sq m KFC on the site of the former Canklow Hotel pub off Centenary Way due to the adverse impact on nearby residents.

The plans attracted objections from local councillors, residents and the School. Objections focused on a potential for anti social behaviour and an impact on the healthy eating ethos at the school.

However, the plans were approved on appeal when the inspector concluded: "I do not accept that the presence of a KFC restaurant/drive through would jeopardise the local healthy-eating initiatives."

McDonald's opened its latest Rotherham outlet this week, a 24-hour restaurant and drive thru on the edge of Parkgate Shopping, offering employment to 114 local people.

McDonald's operates around 1,200 restaurants in the UK and has plans to open 400 more new drive thrus over the next ten years. Over 60% of restaurants are operated as local businesses by franchisees. Due to the growing success of the company, the intention is to increase the pace of acquisitions with a target of 40 new restaurant openings per year from 2014, which will create up to 2,400 new job opportunities annually.

McDonald's website

Images: McDonald's

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