Mexican takeaway plans refused for Silksworth area of Sunderland over health and obesity fears

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Hot food takeaway rejected by council over public health and obesity fears

Plans for a Mexican hot food takeaway in a Sunderland neighbourhood have been refused by council development bosses over public health and obesity fears.

Sunderland City Council’s planning department has rejected an application for a business unit at Tunstall Village Road in the city’s Silksworth ward.

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The address is part of a terrace of business units near Silksworth Youth and Community Centre, and was formerly used as a dog grooming salon.

Tunstall Village Road, Sunderland. Picture: Google Maps.Tunstall Village Road, Sunderland. Picture: Google Maps.
Tunstall Village Road, Sunderland. Picture: Google Maps.

Those behind the development said it would not aim to “sell takeaway food to children under sixteen years of age” and that “all staff will have training with clear instruction and signage regarding this”.

A temporary period of two years was also requested for the hot food takeaway use, with opening times of 5pm until 11.30pm, Monday to Sunday.

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During a council consultation exercise on the plan, Silksworth ward councillor Patricia Smith objected and raised concerns about the number of hot food takeaways in the area.

After considering the planning application and assessing it against planning policies, Sunderland City Council’s planning department refused it on November 17, 2023.

This was because the hot food takeaway use clashed with a council policy which aims to “resist development” in locations where the “prevalence of childhood obesity” exceeds certain limits.

The limits are linked to data from the National Child Measurement Programme and new hot food takeaways on Wearside can be refused in areas where childhood obesity is more than 21 per cent for year 6 pupils or more than 10 per cent for reception pupils.

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Childhood obesity data from the Silksworth ward, outlined in a council decision report, was recorded as 25.7 per cent for year six pupils and 15.6 per cent for reception.

As a result, council planners concluded that the hot food takeaway plan would “not support or improve the health and wellbeing of local communities”.

It was noted that given the conflict with the council’s hot food takeaway policy, “even a temporary use would be harmful to local health for the period of time the takeaway would operate”.

The council decision report added: “The applicant has stated, within a letter received, that all staff will be trained not to sell to children under 16 and there will also be clear signage to this effect.

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“They have referenced [council] policy VC4 in this letter and it is presumed they are suggesting this limitation to mitigate potential health issues relating specifically to children.

“The council would question the enforceability of such an arrangement, but in any case, policy VC4 sets out that there is a concern with the impact of hot food takeaways on the health of all the city’s residents and the childhood obesity figures within wards are merely an indicator of this.

“Additionally, there would be nothing to prevent takeaway food being purchased from the premises by adults for the consumption of children”.

The applicant has the right to challenge the council’s refusal decision by lodging an appeal with the Secretary of State.

For more information on the plans and council refusal decision, visit Sunderland City Council’s planning portal website and search reference: 23/01954/FUL