Plans for KFC drive-thru at Barnes Service Station rejected by Sunderland planning chiefs over obesity concerns

Controversial proposals for a new KFC drive-thru restaurant on Wearside have been rejected by city councillors due to fears over levels of childhood obesity.

Earlier this year, Sunderland City Council’s planning department received an application for the Barnes Service Station, which sits between Queen Alexandra Road and Durham Road.

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But following a recommendation from development chiefs, the bid was rejected by the local authorty's Planning and Highways Committee last night (Thursday, September 22).

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It was instead argued that as the proposed KFC outlet would be within a 400-metre radius of entry points to three schools, the scheme could lead to “increased access to an unhealthy eating outlet”.

Wider factors were also considered in the recommendation including predicted increases in childhood obesity rates and the “large concentration” of existing fast food takeaways in the area.

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Controversial plans to demolish the service station to build a drive-through KFC were refused.

A representative speaking on behalf of applicant Euro Garages Ltd stressed the current petrol filling station site was unviable and that the new plans would generate jobs and enhance the site’s “environmental value”.

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This included the creation of up to 50 new jobs linked to the drive-thru restaurant, as well as plans to nearly triple the amount of trees on site, introduce a one-way traffic system and install electric vehicle charging points.

The applicant also contested the argument that the restaurant would “contribute towards existing obesity levels and make the situation worse” – and stated the petrol station site already sells sugary drinks, crisps and chocolate which are “more obtainable” to children due to cost.

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Conservative city councillor Peter Wood, speaking on behalf of St Michael’s ward councillors, welcomed the planning officer’s assessment and recommendation for refusal.

Barnes councillor Antony Mullen, also speaking in objection, added there were “many more reasons why [the application] should have been rejected”, including highways impacts and “insufficient parking”.

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Those behind the development previously said the site is planned to be a KFC but there was “no guarantee that this will be the end user”.

A statement included in a committee report noted the site “could be home to KFC or Leon”, both of which sell different types of food, but that KFC is “increasingly selling more healthier and vegetarian options”.

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During discussion of the application, councillor James Doyle said the recommendation to refuse from planning officers, and the policy used to do so, was “very clear-cut”.

Cllr Doyle added: “If an application for this type of use falls within 400 metres of the entrance of a primary or secondary school then we need to refuse it, and that’s what we’re doing”.

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After being put to the vote, members of the Planning and Highways Committee unanimously refused plans for the drive-thru restaurant.

The applicant has the right to contest the council’s decision by lodging an appeal with the Government’s Planning Inspectorate.