Change of use from Opticians (Class E) to hot food takeaway (Sui Generis) with alterations to front facade for increased glazing.
The Planning Manager outlined the planning application in detail and advised that since despatch of the agenda, a further letter of objection had been received from the Public Health Team, a copy of which had been appended to the supplementary agenda advice sheet.
She further advised that since despatch of the agenda, the National Planning Policy Framework had been revised and the application had since been considered against paragraphs 111, 126 and 130 but there was no change to the recommendation set out in the report.
The Planning Manager informed the Committee that this premises had been vacant for several years with its most recent use being as a opticians, therefore, the proposed use would bring back into use a vacant unit and would not actively displace an existing retail unit.
She advised that consideration had been given to the ‘Hot Food Takeaway in Medway’ guidance note released in 2014 which stipulated that A5 hot food takeaway uses should not normally exceed 15% of the overall linear frontage and advised that should this application be approved, it would not exceed the 15% linear threshold. A survey had been undertaken of the number of hot food takeaways along Watling Street and a summary provided both within the report and on plans displayed at the meeting.
The Planning Manager referred to the objection received from the Public Health team and advised that the Public Health team had used a different method of calculating the linear meterage.
With the agreement of the Committee, Councillors Chrissy Stamp and Purdy addressed the Committee as Ward Councillors and outlined the following summarised points:
Cllr Chrissy Stamp
· This planning application generated 49 letters of objection against use of this unit as a hot food takeaway which would create an oversaturation of hot food takeaways in this area and exacerbate existing problems of litter.
· Other outlets in this stretch of road such as cafes are now offering a takeaway service in addition to the local bakery.
· Residents will be affected by food smells.
· To approve this application will increase the availability of hot food takeaways in an area in close proximity to schools and parks and would have a detrimental impact on the health of school children and tackling obesity and the Council should be promoting health living.
· This property has been vacant for over 4 years during which time there has been no interest and if approved will bring the unit back into use and remove an eyesore.
· The nearby alleyway has now been cleared of accumulated rubbish and to bring this unit back into use will assist in keeping the alleyway clear.
The Committee discussed the application noting the points raised by both Ward Councillors.
It was noted that due to the Covid-19 restrictions, many more outlets were now offering hot food takeaways including the local grocery store and therefore this needed to be taken into account when calculating the percentage of takeaway food outlets in the area.
Concern was expressed as to the impact that hot food takeaways have on health and obesity and in particular, child obesity and it was considered that whilst this was a finely balanced application, the objections from the Public Health team were compelling particularly taking into account that there were already 10 different types of hot food takeaway outlets in this particular stretch of Watling Street.
Refused on the ground that to approve this application will add a further hot food takeaway in a stretch of road where there is already a high density of hot food takeaway outlets with the final wording of the refusal ground to be approved by the Head of Planning in consultation with the Chairman.