Council tackling obesity

COUNCIL chiefs could soon be banning fast food takeaways from opening up outside schools in a bid to combat the growing problem of childhood obesity.

Durham County Council proposes to put in place an exclusion zone banning anyone from setting up any new fast food shops from within 1,200ft of a school.

The policy is aimed at promoting healthy eating and reducing childhood obesity, and follows similar zones elsewhere in the country.

It is the council’s preferred option within the County Durham plan, which was drawn up to establish county council policies over the next 20 years.

While it would not affect existing takeaways, it would prevent new ones opening within 1,200ft or a five-minute walking distance, from a school or college.

Stuart Timmiss, head of planning and assets for the council, said: “Any new takeaway owner applying to open premises close to a school or college away from a town centre would be stopped from doing so by our planning committee.

“We are not planning to try to close down any existing takeaways, we have to be pragmatic. But we will be looking to oppose any new ones opening within 400 metres of schools.”

The local authority is consulting on the County Durham Plan, which sees preferred options set out key proposals including the future housing, employment and retail development needed to ensure a sustainable future and economic growth.

People can have their say on the plan during forthcoming sessions: from 4pm-8pm on October 1 at East Durham College, in Willerby Grove, Peterlee; from 4pm to 8pm on October 1 at East Durham College, Peterlee; from 4pm-8pm on October 16 at Ceddesfield Hall, in Rectory Way, Sedgefield and from 4pm-8pm on October 22 at Easington Social Welfare Centre, in Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery.