New planning rules are under discussion in Barnsley which could restrict the spread of take-away food shops which councillors blame for damaging the diversity of the district’s shopping centres as well as adding to public health concerns by encouraging the use of fast food.
A new Local Plan to cover developments in the borough into the 2030s is now approaching the final stages of development before it is adopted and when that happens, it is expected the council’s ruling cabinet will be asked to adopt a range of new policy documents, with the expectation one will cover rules around how take-aways are given planning permission.
Restrictions were introduced in 2012, but they are limited to ensure only that full rows of shops are not taken over by outlets operating side by side, with a reliance of market forces to control the numbers and types of hot food take away shops in any area.
However, councillors have been told discussions are taking place internally at the council between planners and public health officials, to work out whether further controls could be introduced to help keep a balance in the centres of communities such as Hoyland, where the council is investing heavily to regenerate the area.
Details of the proposals emerged as councillors rejected a planning application which could have seen a cafe in High Street given permission to start trading as a take away, opening from late afternoon through the evening.
The decision was made on the grounds of road safety and congestion, with the expectation that customers using the take-away would be likely to ignore the double yellow lines on the one way system directly outside the premises.
However, members of the council’s planning board which made the decision had wanted to reject it on the grounds of the impact on the town centre as well as public health issues, though they were told there were no grounds for them to do so.
If new measures are adopted by the council, that could change in future.
Coun Chris Lamb told the meeting he objected on the grounds of the number of hot food take aways within a confined area, the public health issues which fast food meals contributed to and the fact the authority was “investing heavily in the Hoyland area.”
“The only way that whole area will work is if there is a diversity of offer for the day time and night time economies. This does not diversify.
“This would be absolutely counter productive to everything councillors have been trying to achieve.
“If you look at the hours of opening, 4pm to 11pm, why are people going to come into the town centre during the day, when nothing is open? The more of these facilities you put in the town centre, the more you kill it.
“If we don’t have the policy framework to hang an objection on, then we haven’t but I want to make it clear councillors are not happy with that state of play.
“If we cannot prevent this happening, when there is no diversity and it is hot food or nowt, what is the point of us sitting here?”
Coun Mick Stowe added: “We are trying to encourage business people to take up accommodation. If we end up with a town centre saturated with fast food and parking problems that come with it, I think that would be doing Hoyland town centre a disservice.
The council’s head of planning, Joe Jenkinson, told the meeting that new planning policies would be put to Cabinet members after the Local Plan was adopted, with public health officials contributing to the suggestions.