Fast food, planning and schools: precedents and relevant examples [updated]

February 2015: McDonald’s appeal rejected on grounds of traffic and noise in Derbyshire

This particular proposed restaurant would have been situated in a small village on the side of a large motorway. The Inspector found that the appeal proposal would not have an adverse effect upon the living conditions of the occupiers of nearby dwellings with regard to smell, light and privacy. However, it was also found that on the balance of the evidence, it was not shown conclusively that the appeal scheme would not have an adverse impact with regard to noise. The evidence was not sufficiently robust or conclusive to demonstrate that there would not be a severe adverse impact upon the efficient operation of the highway network or an adverse impact upon highway safety arising from the development.


August 2014: McDonald’s application near school in Kenton rejected by councillors despite recommendations from planning officers

Newcastle City Council’s planning committee ignored a recommendation from its officers to approve a two story drive-thru McDonald’s near Newcastle’s biggest school. The members made their decision because of concerns of the impact it could have on road safety as well as it providing access to unhealthy eating for the nearby 2,000 pupil Kenton School.

They also criticised the poor design of the proposed building, describing it as “bland and uninteresting”, which would have been located at the “gateway to Newcastle”.



June 2010: Judge rules that school proximity is a material planning consideration

In 2010, a high court judge ruled that Tower Hamlets council acted unlawfully when it gave go-ahead for Fried & Fabulous to open for business in Cable Street, Shadwell, close to Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate school.

The judge said councillors had voted in favour of permission after being wrongly directed that they could not take account of the proximity of the local secondary school because it was not “a material planning consideration”.



May 2014: Public Health England recommend that councils be allowed to ban fast food outlets near schools

Fast food takeaways should be banned from near schools in a bid to curb child obesity, the government’s public health quango has urged.

Public Health England has brought out tough new guidance for councils, urging planners to refuse permission for burger bars, chip shops and pizza parlours within five minutes’ walking distance of schools.

[News report]

[PDF: Public Health England guidance]


August 2014: Enfield Council rejects McDonald’s close to school. Enfield Council have refused planning permission for a proposed McDonalds drive-thru restaurant citing eight grounds for refusal, including the proximity of a school, “unacceptable break and disruption of the shopping frontage” and the fact that its construction would pre-empt long-term development objectives for this “key opportunity site” that are set out in the Area Action Plan.

The refusal represents a success for the campaign organised by the local Home Owners’ and Residents’ Association, which resulted in the Council receiving more than 60 letters of objection.


October 2013: Wallington McDonald’s planning permission rejected after residents’ arguments against it during a planning meeting. Speakers cited problems with traffic, noise, anti-social behaviour and the effect the restaurant could have on children’s health among their reasons for objecting to the restaurant, which would have opened from 6am to 11pm every day and attracted up to 1,000 vehicles a day.

The council’s planning officers had recommended the members of the committee approve the application but, following arguments from both the objectors and representatives from the fast-food chain, the application was unanimously voted down.


April 2013: Somerset village opposes third McDonald’s application. Bath and North East Somerset council rejected the application once. McDonalds then appealed to the planning inspectorate but withdrew their application. McDonalds put in another application, which was later withdrawn after they were advised by planning officers that it would be refused. Around 50 objections were lodged with the council on the most recent application.


February 2014: Campaigners defeat McDonald’s application to turn a historic Hampshire pub into a fast food restaurant. Plans to turn the Thornhill Park Road pub into a drive through restaurant were turned down by planning officers at Southampton City Council before they were presented at a committee meeting.

The proposals, which would see the site redeveloped into a two-storey restaurant, were refused on three grounds. Officers refused the plans on the basis that demolishing The Bittern would result in the loss of the building, which was registered as an asset of community value. The plans would also affect highway safety and fail to promote sustainable travel along Thornhill Park Road.


March 2014: Salford Council banned new takeaway businesses from opening near secondary schools before 5pm on weekdays.

The change to planning regulations applies to new businesses opening within 400 metres of high schools and does not affect existing takeaways or ones which plan to open near primary schools. It came after Salford Council research found that older children are more likely to be overweight when living in close proximity to fast food takeaways.



March 2014: Islington council is proposing to map all primary and secondary schools with a 200 metre buffer zone. Alongside this, they will map all hot food takeaways to assess where they are in close proximity to schools.

Proposals for drinking establishments, off licences, hot food takeaways, lap dancing clubs, nightclubs, casinos, betting shops, amusement centres and other similar uses will be resisted where they are in proximity to schools or sensitive community facilities.

The policy discussion paper sets out the policy basis by outlining the council’s intention to resist hot food takeaways where they are in close proximity to schools, and where they are over-concentrated within a certain area.


August 2014: Stoke-on-Trent City Council is looking to stop new hot food outlets opening within 400m of secondary schools.

The proposed ‘supplementary planning document’ will also introduce new restrictions relating to ‘clustering’ of takeaways, and opening times. Takeaway owners, MPs and residents’ groups have been consulted on the draft SPD, which has been amended in response to their comments.


February 2010 Barking and Dagenham Council is finalising a plan that would limit the number of fast-food premises and impose a £1,000 levy on any new outlets, to be spent on tackling childhood obesity. Chains such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken objected, but the National Obesity Forum, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and Child Growth Foundation backed the move.

The council is also working with its local NHS primary care trust (PCT) to help make takeaway products healthier. Tower Hamlets, also in east London, is doing the same and offering food preparation staff free nutrition workshops. It has set up a healthy eating awards scheme for caterers as part of a £4.7m “healthy borough programme”.


Further reading

The Guardian: Takeaway ban near schools to help fight child obesity

28 February 2010: Councils across England are banning new takeaways from opening within 400 yards of any school, youth club or park, in an attempt to tackle the growing toll of obesity, strokes and heart disease.

One thought on “Fast food, planning and schools: precedents and relevant examples [updated]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.