Public health officials oppose new takeaway application

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Public health officials for Hartlepool are objecting to plans to turn an empty building into a takeaway.

A planning application for a new fast food outlet at 76 Church Street, with flats above, is due to be decided by Hartlepool Borough Council on Wednesday.

But the authority’s own Public Health department is opposing the plan saying it could add to health problems of people in the area including child obesity.

The applicant is seeking a change of use from ground floor office to hot food takeaway and from offices to a flat on the first and second floors.

The unit, which falls within the Church Street conservation area, has been empty since Barnardo’s B76 drop-in youth centre moved out in 2011.

A report to be considered by the council’s Planning Committee states that Hartlepool has a significantly higher proportion of takeaways compared to the national average.

Data from the National Obesity Observatory said Hartlepool had 118 hot food take-away outlets in 2011.

And the Headland and Harbour ward, which the premises falls in, is said to be ranked in the bottom 2% most deprived wards in England with fewer residents eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day at 16.7% compared to 28.7% for England.

Obesity rates for the ward are also said to be significantly higher than the Hartlepool and national averages.

A report outlining Hartlepool Public Health’s objection to the application states: “There is therefore a concern that additional hot food take-away outlets could contribute to unhealthy diets and a rise in levels of childhood and adult obesity in the Headland and Harbour ward, particularly where there is already a high proliferation in the Church Street area.

“Increased rates of obesity will contribute to premature deaths due to an increased risk of stroke, cancer and heart disease.

“For these reasons, the Health Improvement Team would object to this application.”

With a proposed 10am opening time Monday to Saturday, planning officers acknowledge it may be used by students from Cleveland College of Art and Design nearby, and St Joseph’s Primary School is less than half a mile away.

But they say: “Given the alternatives which are closer and the number of existing takeaways in this locality, it is not considered that the addition of one more takeaway could result in a significant reduction in health and well-being to children and young adults.”

Councillors are being urged to approve the application. Wednesday’s meeting takes place at Hartlepool Civic Centre at 10am.