The public in Lewisham will have their say on ‘no fry zones’ which ban takeaways near schools.
If the public vote in favour of the ban, the ‘no fry zones’ will rule out fast food restaurants applying for planning permission within a 400m radius of a school.
The fast food exclusion zones were proposed by the local Green Party, and will now be the subject of a public consultation. Lewisham’s Deputy Mayor, Heidi Alexander said that any policy, “will need to be evidence based and be defended at a public enquiry.”
Councillor Ute Michel of the Green Party said: “I am very pleased with this sensible response. The next steps would be to look carefully at the lessons from Waltham Forest, which already has health-focused restrictions on junk food takeaways at the school gate, and then to look carefully at what approach would be right for Lewisham.”
Current planning policy for takeaway shops in Lewisham does not take ‘adverse health’ issues or distance from schools or leisure centres into account.
Cllr Michel added: “Our children’s health actually gets far worse, rather than better, during their time in school. Despite making progress in making school meals healthier and teaching about healthier diets, takeaways are fuelling junk food culture just outside the school gate, undoing much of that good work.”
She said council representatives would also work with existing takeaways, which will not have to close under the new proposal.
The Green party says that current menus should be adjusted to include healthier options, with a drive to help reduce the salt, fat and sugar content of takeaway food.
Waltham Forest Council already restricts takeaways so they cannot open within 400m of schools, youth centres, or after-school clubs or parks. The council pioneered the scheme after it was backed by 93 per cent of locals.
Donna Gayle, a mother of five from New Cross, said: “One of my sons is 16 and I am concerned with him always going to the chicken shop. I would like the zones to work but I don’t know if they would. I’d prefer healthy places to open up near schools instead of takeaway shops.”
Deputy Mayor Alexander added that although new planning policy could consider health issues in addition to more conventional planning measures, “It is not thought appropriate just to rely on health criteria to limit the provision of takeaway units”.
“Lewisham has one of the worst childhood obesity problems in the country, a problem causing lifelong chronic health problems and a toll on stretched NHS resources. It is right that we consider innovative ways to tackle this, including the use of planning policies.”