Alison Butler, Croydon Council’s deputy leader, has declared war on fast food shops around the borough.
In an email sent to her 38 Labour councillor colleagues, seen by Inside Croydon, Butler, the council cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, has appealed for help in getting the planning inspector to back a council proposal to block any new fried chicken shops or other fast food joints from opening in the borough.
Croydon’s Local Plan, a document that has already been four years in the drafting and re-drafting, has undergone a public hearing and review by the government planning inspectorate.
The Local Plan is now out for yet another round of public consultation – and Butler wants Labour councillors to get residents in their wards to influence the final outcome.
Butler’s proposed ban on fast food shops was described to the planning inspector as “Draconian” by representatives of the fast-food industry. The inspector appears to have found their argument persuasive, or perhaps has concluded that the council is inconsistent.
Because while Butler wants a fast food shop ban, her council has loaned £3million to Boozepark to open more than two dozen food outlets next to East Croydon Station. And this year the council helped set-up a “pop-up” fish and chip shop (offering only one kind of fish, but chips with everything) as part of its £1.2million gentrification imposed on Surrey Street.
In her email to councillors, Butler, who represents Bensham Manor ward, writes, “I know this is an issue that frequently has come up for discussion in Thornton Heath (and other areas) so I would like local residents who are concerned to respond.”
In a long, rambling and somewhat patronising email (“Hope this makes sense and sorry this email is a bit long and complicated – but that’s the planning system!”), Butler advises her fellow councillors: “As in many planning issues the representations do need to have some bite (evidence) to it otherwise the inspector may just dismiss it as he will only be interested in evidence and not the volume of representations on the subject.”
Butler then offers what she thinks is a form of words which her councillors should get their residents to use when lodging an objection to the inspector’s proposal for a more relaxed approach to planning restrictions.
Butler’s draft includes this passage: “Public Health England say that of particular concern are hot food takeaways, which tend to sell food that is high in fat and salt, and low in fibre, fruit and vegetables. They note that there is a growing body of evidence on the association between exposure to fast food outlets and obesity. Croydon has above average levels of hot food takeaways…
“Public Health England say that there are three broad approaches to address the proliferation of hot food takeaways…” and that these include using “the planning system to address the proliferation.”
Butler then states that if the restrictions she and the council suggested for takeways is “watered down” as suggested by the government inspector, “then the overall ability to address the social (health) effects of hot food takeaways in Croydon will be significantly reduced”.
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