Posted on Friday 10 March 2017
Gateshead Council has won a major national award for its trailblazing approach to helping to curb obesity through planning restrictions.
The council’s Hot Food Takeaway Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) was introduced in 2015 to avoid an over proliferation of hot food takeaways in areas which had a higher number per head of population than elsewhere Gateshead. This followed sampling which showed that hot takeaway food was unhealthy either due to portion size or fat, sugar or salt content.
Since its introduction, Gateshead’s SPD has resulted in every planning application for a hot food takeaway being refused with those decisions which were subsequently appealed being upheld by the Planning Inspectorate.
The initiative has gained a lot of national attention and late last year was shortlisted for an LGC Award in the Public Health category.
Last night in London, Gateshead Council beat off challenges from nine other UK local authorities to secure the 2017 LGC Award for Public Health.
Councillor Mary Foy, Cabinet member for Health, says: “We are incredibly excited to have won such a prestigious national award. To be judged the best by your own peers is a tremendous achievement.
“We knew we had a good chance of winning. Our Supplementary Planning Guidance went further than others to try and control the over-proliferation of hot food takeaways, and it created a lot in interest nationally.
“Winning this award is clear recognition of our own ability to innovate, but it also shows the benefits of working together. Three different departments – environmental health, planning and public health – had to come together to make this work, and the skills which each of those groups brought to the table have ensured that we have created something that could make a real difference to millions of lives.”
Gateshead has an average of 0.97 hot food takeaways per 1000 people, which exceeds the national average of 0.78 per 1000 people and in many wards the figure is considerably higher. Presently 22% of all year 6 children in Gateshead are obese and this proportion has risen over the last 5 years.
Gateshead’s SPD ensures that the council can go beyond the traditional planning considerations by taking local people’s health into account. This ensures that the council can adapt to the changing nature of planning and residential makeup of the community that it serves.
Alice Wiseman, Director of Public Health for Gateshead Council, says: “We want to make it easier for people to make healthy choices in their diets - but this is much harder if there is a proliferation of hot food takeaways where they live.
“This is particularly difficult in areas of relative poverty where we have seen a marked increase in the number of takeaways in recent years.
“Limiting their numbers is just one small action within a much wider effort to tackle obesity levels, so it’s wrong to think this is the one solution to obesity. But it does provide extremely valuable support to our other efforts.”