Are there too many takeaways in Bamber Bridge?
Plans to turn a house into takeaway just yards from a secondary school in Bamber Bridge have been rejected.
Members of South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee refused the application – to convert residential premises on the corner Station Road and Hodson Street – because of a lack of parking in the area.
But the meeting also heard concerns over the potential impact of the proposed venture on pupils at the nearby Brownedge St. Mary’s RC High School – as well as criticism of the number of takeaways in the town. Two existing fast food outlets are situated directly opposite the one which was being put forward.
Addressing the committee in his capacity as ward councillor for Bamber Bridge West , South Ribble leader Paul Foster said that the proposed location was “far too close” to the school gates.
He added: “We’re trying to protect our young people and teach them how to eat properly – and this right is opposite the entrance to a school.
“There are far too many takeaways already in Bamber Bridge – we do not need another [one].”
Acknowledging that health issues were not currently a material planning consideration, he went on to question the availability of parking and a claim by the applicant that most customers were expected to visit on foot.
Council officers had recommended that the application be approved, because a Central Lancashire-wide planning policy on access to healthy food is “not actively being used” at the moment while evidence is being gathered to refresh it.
Members heard that changes to national planning guidance earlier this year mean the health impact of proposed outlets can now be taken into consideration, even in the absence of a local policy on the issue. But director of planning, Jonathan Noad, added that the measures had yet to be “tested”.
Committee member Barrie Yates said that as much as he would like to refuse the application, “we can’t go with our hearts, we have to go with planning policy”.
But fellow member James Flannery said that the committee should not be afraid to “push back a bit sometimes”.
The committee heard that a limited number of parking spaces available in Hodson Street were often taken up by residents – and the application was refused on the grounds of “highway amenity” by 11 votes to one.
Last year, the district authorities which make planning decisions were issued with guidance by Lancashire County Council about how they could consider limiting the number of fast food outlets in certain areas. These included a restriction on new premises within 400m of a school and limits on the number of takeaways located in deprived wards or where there is an identified problem with childhood obesity.