Wednesday, January 20, 2016

News: KFC objects to "unsound" Rotherham planning policy

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Fast food restaurant chain, KFC has followed McDonald's and 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 been consulting 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.

In response, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) considers the draft policy unsound against national policy and doesn't believe that a reasoned justification has been substantially provided.

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Consultants, SSA Planning Limited, on behalf of KFC, said: "The draft policy is not based on any objectively assessed development requirement. It effectively assesses the requirement for hot food takeaways within 800 metres of the boundary of a school or further education establishment as zero, but does so without evidence of either a link between the incidence of obesity and the proximity of hot food takeaways to such places or any particular distance at which that link is demonstrated.

"In fact, the distance chosen could have the effect of banning hot food takeaways from a majority of the Borough. No assessment has been made of the number of hot food takeaways that might be refused as a result of this or what the social, economic or environmental impacts of that might be, so it is not possible to balance these impacts.

"[KFC] cannot agree with measures that simply restrict choice for all members of the public and impact jobs and investment without good evidence of effectiveness."

McDonald's responded to earlier consultation, describing the policy as ambiguous, unjustified and unsound, also pointing out that no justification for 800m exclusion zones is provided.
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."

The KFC response discusses the negative assumptions of the policy regarding products sold by hot food takeaways and adds that "There is no evidence for a causal link between the incidence of obesity and proximity of hot food takeaways to schools or further education establishments and only limited evidence of any correlation at all, so it is unclear how refusing planning permission for hot food takeaways within 800 metres of such locations could ever be justified."

The proposed 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 (pictured) 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."

The town centre branch of KFC closed on Corporation Street in 2015, a new build unit is set to open at Eastwood this year.

KFC website

Images: KFC / Google Maps

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