Councillors have given their backing to plans to limit the proliferation of hot food takeaways in Wolverhampton - and help tackle high levels of obesity in the City.

Members of the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet last night (Wednesday 18 October, 2017) approved draft planning guidance which will restrict new hot food takeaways from opening in shopping centres or parades where there are already a high percentage of such retailers, and also close to secondary schools.

It will now be subject to a period of public consultation and, once adopted, will supplement existing guidance which is already applied to key areas of the City centre, Bilston and the Three Tuns Shopping Centre on Stafford Road.

The proportion of hot food takeaways in and around Wolverhampton is significantly higher than the national average, with research showing there is more than one hot food takeaway per 1,000 people. The national average is 0.86 per 1,000.

The guidance states that, where centres have 40 units or more, no more than 10% should be hot food takeaways, and that where there are less than 40 units, hot food takeaways must make up no more than 15% of them. Where these limits are reached, new takeaways will not be granted planning permission.

In addition, the guidance will restrict new hot food takeaways from opening within 400m - around a 5 minute walk - of secondary schools, with the exception of schools which are close to or within the City or district centres.

It will also put an end to the "clustering" of takeaways by ensuring that no more than 2 takeaways are permitted to open next door to one another.

The guidance will only affect new "Class A5" hot food takeaways, such as drive throughs, Chinese and Indian takeaways and pizza, fried chicken, burger and fish and chip shops. It will not affect existing hot food takeaways; nor will it apply to non Class A5 food and drink retailers such as sandwich shops and bakeries, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and dessert shops.

The draft planning guidance will be subject to a 6 week period of consultation between Monday 30 October and Tuesday 12 December, 2017, with businesses, customers, residents and other stakeholders invited to have their say. More details of the consultation will be announced shortly.

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: "Fast food outlets are an important component of the local economy, and where balanced with other types of retail they provide a service to the public, creating jobs and generating rental income.

"However, where they make up a disproportionately high percentage of the retail offer they can have a negative impact by reducing the vitality and viability of shopping centres, discouraging shoppers and future retail opportunities.

"It's important to stress that this new planning guidance will not have any impact on existing hot food takeaways, and nor does it limit the type of takeaways in Wolverhampton. This is simply about ensuring that we do not end up with too many takeaways."

Wolverhampton has some of the highest levels of obesity in the country - around two thirds of adults and nearly half of school children in Year 6 are either overweight or obese, significantly higher than the national average, with obesity costing the NHS up to £8bn per year.

Councillor Paul Sweet, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "For several years, we have worked closely with takeaways to encourage them to offer healthier options to customers, and we're delighted that around 20 retailers have risen to the challenge and are now giving customers the chance to eat more healthily if they wish.

"However, the sector continues to be dominated by retailers offering food in large portions which is high in fat, sugar and salt. 

"Not surprisingly, research shows that increased exposure and opportunity to buy fast food leads to people eating more of it, while the prevalence of takeaways near schools can have a negative impact on children's eating habits.

"This is not about the council telling people what they can and cannot eat. This is about achieving an economically viable balance between hot food takeaways and other retail across the City, addressing the over concentration of takeaways, protecting vulnerable groups such as secondary school children, and ultimately reducing obesity and poor diet which is affecting the health and wellbeing of so many of our citizens."

The report approved by Cabinet is available at Cabinet Meeting 18 October 2017.

  • released: Thursday 19 October, 2017