By Sophie Borland
A takeaway has been banned from opening near a secondary school in a landmark legal ruling.
The decision by a High Court judge will force councils to take into account the health and well-being of pupils when making planning decisions.
Mr Justice Cranston said that Tower Hamlets council, East London, ‘acted unlawfully’ by allowing a Fried & Fabulous to open on the site of a former grocery shop.
The takeaway selling burgers, chicken and chips was too close to the Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate School, just 500 yards away, he said.
The unprecedented ruling follows a crackdown on unhealthy eating by national and local government.
It comes a year after Waltham Forest became the first council to ban fast food businesses from opening close to schools. Other local authorities are considering similar laws.
Other local authorities are considering similar laws and yesterday’s ruling means councillors could appeal against the planning permission of unhealthy takeaways if they are close to schools.
Tower Hamlets council had initially allowed the Fried & Fabulous but parents and teachers objected, fearing it would jeopardise the school’s healthy-eating policy. Resident Edward Copeland was so angry that he brought the case to the High Court.
All 1,700 pupils follow strict rules stating ‘no chips, fatty foods, sweets, fizzy drinks etc’ can be sold at the school.
The school’s head Catherine Myers was so concerned about the takeaway that she wrote a letter to the council explaining that the school was achieving outstanding examination results by educating ‘the whole person’.
She said the governors and student council and their neighbours ‘objected strongly’ and felt ‘undermined’ by a takeaway setting up.
‘Approximately 500 students remain in school at the end of the day to take extra classes and already several takeaway shops quite cynically open up specifically to make a profit from selling cheap junk food to vulnerable teenagers,’ she wrote.
Yesterday Mr Justice Cranston said that the councillors who had agreed the takeaway’s opening had been wrongly informed that they could not take into account that it was so close to the secondary school.
After the ruling, Councillor Peter Golds, leader of the Tower Hamlets Conservative group, said: ‘This is a very important High Court decision.
‘It clarifies the law and sets a benchmark that will enable local authorities everywhere to take account of health and well-being – particularly of schoolchildren – as factors in determining planning applications.’
Schools have been increasingly adopting healthy eating policies over the last few years – many inspired by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
He launched a national campaign tied in with the TV series Jamie’s School Dinners in 2006 encouraging schools to ditch unhealthy lunches and replace them with pasta and salad.
Many schools have gone further by banning vending machines on their premises and imposing ‘lock-in’ policies whereby pupils are not allowed outside school grounds in case they stray into takeaways.
Last year Labour-run Waltham Forest council shut down a Jamaican fast-food outlet that was deemed to be too close to a primary and secondary school.
The council’s rules – which apply only to those takeaways yet to receive planning permission – prevent them from opening close to one another or near schools and public places.