Over the course of the summer 2018 the panel had received evidence from the Councils Department of Public Health and the Department of Planning in respect of the issue of Childhood Obesity and the use of planning policy as a means to address this issue. Members had subsequently expressed the view that additional efforts should be made to improve the Council's responsible use of planning policy in order to reduce health inequalities in Middlesbrough.
In terms of overweight and obesity rates for reception (4/5 year olds) and Year 6 (10/11 year olds) pupils the panel had been provided with a breakdown of the figures by ward. The England average obesity figure for reception aged children in 2014/15 to 2015/16 was 9.34 per cent. The Middlesbrough average was 12.67 per cent, with some wards including Bewick Hills and Pallister (15.34 per cent), Brambles and Thorntree (15.3 per cent) and North Ormesby (17.7 per cent) all above 15 per cent. Similarly the England average for Year 6 pupils in 2014/15 to 2015/16 was 19.64 per cent. The Middlesbrough average was 22.67 per cent, with some wards including Central (26.90 per cent), Newport (27.99 per cent), and Berwick Hills and Pallister (25.65 per cent) all above 25 per cent.
The panel had been informed that the current confinement of takeaways to commercial centres provided for an effective control and that the proposed Local Plan sought to include the limitation of new takeaways by a percentage value within the commercial centres. The panel was aware that other local authorities in the North East including Newcastle and Gateashead had in recent years, introduced further restrictions on the proliferation of fast food outlets.
In light of the above, at its meeting in June 2018 the panel advised that it wished to submit a formal response to the Local Plan preferred options consultation, in an effort to strengthen local policy on improving access to healthier food and reducing access to unhealthy food outlets. The panel emphasised the need for the Council to have a robust policy in place that would provide a strong evidence base and help back up the planning decisions that were made locally. In response to the information provided Members expressed the view that the Council should adopt a similar approach to other Local Authorities, as well as develop a Hot Food Takeaway Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).
Under the new proposals, no more than two takeaway shops would be allowed to open next door to each other. Takeaways would also be blocked from opening within 400m of a secondary school entrance, and any application to open up a hot food takeaway would be required to include a Health Impact Assessment.
The Executive Member for Economic development and Infrastructure advised that he backed the proposals as a way to improve health and well-being, as well as encourge healthy eating choices. It was acknowledged that although this was only 'tool in the box' to improve health and well-being by enshrining it in a policy it helped to demonstrate that the Council was serious in respect of this agenda.
AGREED that the panel put forward the following recommendations to the Executive:-
i) That Policy EG7 on Hot Food Takeaways, as detailed in the Local Plan, be fully endorsed by the Health Scrutiny Panel following the inclusion of additional point e. applications for A5 uses will be required to be accompanied by a Health Impact Assessment, and, where an unacceptable adverse impact was established, permission would not be granted.
ii) That the Council prepared a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to control Hot Food Takeaway proposals, particularly from the perspective of improving the health and well-being of Middlesbroughs population.