Kirklees Council wants to tackle childhood obesity by limiting the number of hot food takeaways.

The Kirklees district has more takeaways per head of population than anywhere else in West Yorkshire.

And statistics show that a quarter of reception age children (24.6%) and more than a third of Year 6 youngsters (36.7%) are classed as overweight or obese.

The council is drawing up a new planning directive to give planners more control over the opening of new takeaways.

The most controversial aspect of the proposals – which have yet to be approved by Cabinet – is to insist that new takeaways within 400 metres of primary schools close between 3pm and 5pm on weekdays.

The council’s Economy and Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Panel was told that the proposals went out to consultation and there were objections to claims of a link between takeaways and childhood obesity from major restaurant chains.

A report to the panel said the council took legal advice as a result of the consultations and made some changes. However, it says, the requirement to close in the afternoon will remain.

A report on the directive – known as Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) – says: “The obesity rates and percentage of children carrying excessive weight in primary schools are identified in the National Child Measurement Program.

“In Kirklees 24.6% of reception children are overweight or obese and 36.7% of Year 6 children are overweight or obese.

“This demonstrates a need for the 400m restrictive zones around all schools in the Kirklees district.

“The percentages of overweight and obese reception and Year 6 children have increased since the previous year which were 23.2% and 35.5% respectively.

“YouGov report that the average age for a child to begin walking themselves to school is 10. For most children this is the last year of primary school.

“The most common time for children to purchase fast food is after school on the journey home, with many children skipping lunch in order to spend the money outside the school gate.”

On the afternoon closure, the report says: “The requirement to close between 3pm and 5pm weekdays will only apply to hot food takeaways within 400m of primary schools.

“As primary school children are not allowed out of school at lunch, there is no reason for a premise to be closed at this time.

“It would be unreasonable to ask hot food takeaways to close over lunch when there is no justification for them to do so. Research indicates that the most popular time for purchasing food from shops is after school.”

The council’s draft SPG document says that Kirklees has more fast food outlets per head of population than any of the other West Yorkshire local authorities.

Kirklees has 143.4 outlets per 100,000 of population compared with Bradford (142.1), Wakefield (137.9), Calderdale (137.3) and Leeds (122.5).

The document says Cleckheaton, Ashbrow and Dalton were three of the council wards with the highest rates of childhood obesity.

Clr John Taylor (Con, Kirkburton) supported the new guidance but said: “It’s only as good as the enforcement.

“We are bringing forward sensible policies but if we don’t put resources into enforcing them they are only as good as the paper they are written on.”

The guidance document will go to Cabinet on September 20 for approval.