Kirklees Council is introducing stricter controls on the opening of new hot food takeaways to protect town centres and help combat rising obesity levels, particularly in children.

The council’s Cabinet has approved a new Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for hot food takeaways which will allow planners more powers to reject applications.

The aim for major town centres, such as Huddersfield, is to encourage a variety of shops and other outlets and to protect the look of a street preventing a cluster of shop units being shuttered during the daytime, which deters shoppers and other business investors.

New takeaways within a five-minute walk of schools will also be restricted in a bid to remove the temptation for children to stop off on their way home.

New takeaways near primary schools won’t be able to open for ‘over the counter sales’ between 3pm and 5pm on weekdays and those near secondary schools won’t be able to open to the public before 5pm.

A council spokesman said: “The rising rate of obesity is a nationally recognised issue. Obesity reduces life expectancy and increases the risk of serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

“While the causes of obesity are complex, weight and overall health can be strongly linked to both diet and environment.

“As the availability of ‘fast food’ is a major component in this, Kirklees Council aims to better manage the locations of hot food takeaways and reduce access to unhealthy food choices.

“The SPD includes new guidance around selling takeaway hot food near schools. This is particularly important as, in Kirklees, around one in four reception-age children are clinically overweight. This number rises to one in three by the age of 11.

“While improvements have been made to the food offered within school grounds, this new guidance would help extend this to the surrounding environments.

“As well as health impacts, the new guidance recognises the large role of hot food takeaways in town centres and other key areas across Kirklees, and the need for these areas to offer variety for residents, visitors and businesses.

“By limiting the number of businesses of this type in one area, Kirklees Council can further promote vibrant, varied town centres with a wide range of businesses and offerings.

“This ensures there’s something for everyone in these key areas, thereby encouraging more footfall and supporting local high streets as a whole.”

Clr Musarrat Khan, Cabinet member for health and social care, above left, said: “By encouraging businesses to offer more healthy menus and normalising healthier eating, we can increase life expectancy and reduce the risk of serious illness. Where we can do more to encourage healthy living, we have that responsibility.

“This is particularly crucial when thinking about our children in Kirklees. Over the last few decades, so much has been done to make sure children eat healthily while they’re in school – we should be thinking more widely and extending this to the environment beyond our local schools. We have a responsibility to tackle growing childhood obesity rates in every way we can.”

Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for growth and regeneration, above right, said: “We want to develop policies which will work for Kirklees as a whole, helping revitalise our high streets. So much of the work we’re doing at the moment is about encouraging more vibrancy and variety on our high streets, giving people more reasons to visit and driving more footfall across the board.

With this new guidance, our aim is to help the local takeaway industry thrive, without perpetuating some of the negative impacts we’re currently seeing on local communities.

“We’ll be providing the best possible guidance for anyone looking to make a planning application, being clear about our policies but also clearly laying out the pathways to success.”