Fast food exclusion zones in South Gloucestershire could help the battle against obesity

Unidentifiable child eating burger, credit ITV West Country
A fifth of children leaving school are obese - South Gloucestershire Council wants to restrict fast food outlets to help tackle the problem Credit: ITV West Country

Fast food exclusion zones could be introduced around schools in South Gloucestershire restricting the development and licensing of new outlets within 400m of any school.

The move comes as figures from NHS England show that 20% of children leaving primary school are obese.

Local councils want more powers to prevent fast food outlets being built near schools to help protect young people from the temptation of junk food.

South Gloucestershire Council is proposing "Fast Food Exclusion Zones" - preventing new fast food outlets being built within at least 400m of a school in the district - or a five minute walk. 

South Gloucestershire Council wants to ban fast food outlets within five minutes walk of schools. Credit: PA

Cllr Roger Avenin, who represents Bradley Stoke South on South Gloucestershire Council says, "I was given a paper quite recently that stated that obesity in children in Bradley Stoke North was above the national average.

"The NHS has stated that children attending primary school start to be overweight at quite a young age. That's a frightening statistic.

"I am pleased to be putting forward this proposal for change, by insisting that the temptation of fast food is kept at an arm’s length from school children."

Map showing locations of schools and fast food outlets in South Gloucestershire Credit: Crown copyright/South Gloucestershire Council

There are more fast food outlets than there are primary schools in the district. There are also 22 secondary schools.

Permission was recently granted permission for a McDonald's at Willowbrook Shopping Centre in Bradley Stoke. Credit: ITV West Country

If the proposals are passed, the council will get more powers.

Permission was recently granted for a McDonald's to be built on the site of the Willow Brook shopping centre in Bradley Stoke. It would be right in the middle of three schools. The developer applied to South Gloucestershire Council and the McDonald's was refused twice.

The developer then appealed and the planning inspectorate overturned the decision on the grounds of planning policy.

If fast food exclusion zones were introduced, this should not happen in future.

South Gloucestershire councillors were due to vote on the proposals on Wednesday 15 July but there was not enough time and the vote was deferred to the next meeting in October.

Now South Gloucestershire Council’s Conservative Administration has decided to fast-track the Exclusion Zone proposals rather than have to wait.

If fast food outlets are further away from schools then pupils are less likely to be tempted by them. Credit: PA