School takeaway challenge

Friday April 12th 2019

Sprotts News

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A bid to overturn a ban on a hot food takeaway opening within 400 metres of a primary school will be decided by councillors next week.

Scotmid has challenged a decision by Midlothian Council to refuse permission to turn a shop it owns into a takeaway because it is too close to Lasswade Primary School in Bonnyrigg.

The local authority introduced new guidance late last year which sets out how close new hot food vendors will be allowed to its schools.

However, the decision to include primary schools in the ban has been challenged by the supermarket giants, who say most youngsters would not be allowed out during the day.

Scotmid initially took its appeal against the decision to the Scottish Government; however, it has been told the appeal has to be heard by the council’s own Local Review Body.

The review body will consider the appeal next week, with members visiting the site of the shop, on Lothian Street.

The shop, which was formerly Sprott’s News, is said to be 235 metres from the school boundary ‘as the crow flies’, although Scotmid points out that by road it is 380 metres away.

Appealing against the refusal on Scotmid’s behalf, the company’s agent challenged the inclusion of primary schools in the council’s ban.

He said: “We have great difficult in understanding why such restrictions should apply equally to primary schools given that pupils in the latter are retained within school grounds for the entire duration of the school day.”

And he added: “In the circumstances, it is inconceivable to consider that the physical relationship of the application site to Lasswade Primary School in this instance would pose a risk to the health and wellbeing of any pupil attending it.”

The retail shop closed at the end of September last year due to what were described as poor trading conditions.

Scotmid was hoping to turn it into a hot food takeaway; however, the new supplementary guidance approved by Midlothian Council led to it being refused planning permission.

The guidance said: “It is reasonable and appropriate for the council to prevent provision of new premises and the change of use of premises to hot food takeaways on account of the adverse impact that they have on the diets of young people and the health of communities.

“Hot food takeaways will not be permitted where they fall within 400 metres of the curtilage of a primary or secondary school.”

The Local Review Body will be told that the new takeaway would, if concerns about the school continued, agree to alter its opening hours to ensure they did not coincide with the time children travel to and from school.

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