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Michael Gove Blocks Papa John’s Store Opening Over Childhood Obesity Concerns

Michael Gove Blocks Papa John’s Store Opening Over Childhood Obesity Concerns

Summary: Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, has taken a proactive stance on planning decisions by blocking pizza chain Papa John’s from opening a new store in Tyneside due to concerns over childhood obesity.

The Planning Inspectorate, an executive agency of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, rejected Papa John’s appeal to open the site, citing the local council’s rules aimed at curbing the proliferation of takeaway outlets in areas with high rates of childhood obesity.

Despite Papa John’s claims of offering healthy menu options and being located a significant distance from schools, the planning inspector concluded that the proposal would harm the health of residents in the area.

Body: Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, has made a notable intervention in planning decisions by preventing pizza chain Papa John’s from opening a new store in Tyneside due to concerns about childhood obesity. This move is believed to be the first of its kind.

The local council had implemented regulations to restrict the establishment of takeaway outlets in areas where the obesity rates among year 6 and reception pupils exceeded 15% and 10%, respectively.

According to recently published data, the obesity rates for year 6 and reception pupils in the proposed area were 21.2% and 8.9%, respectively.

Papa John’s defended its case by highlighting its provision of healthy menu options, the display of calorific values, and its avoidance of frying products—a contrast to other takeaway establishments. Additionally, the proposed site was situated more than 400 meters away from middle or secondary schools.

However, the planning inspector determined that the distance from schools did not guarantee that children would not be exposed to Papa John’s products.

The Planning Inspectorate, an executive agency of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, reached this decision despite a precedent where the Planning Inspectorate granted planning permission to rival pizza chain Domino’s after it appealed a similar decision by the North Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council.

The Planning Inspectorate concluded that Papa John’s proposal would have an adverse impact on the health of residents in the area. While the Planning Inspectorate operates independently, the Secretary of State, Mr. Gove, appoints inspectors.

Michael Gove has faced criticism for adopting a more interventionist approach compared to his predecessors when it comes to planning requests. Critics argue that such interference hampers economic growth and contradicts the government’s pro-business stance.

In response to the decision, a spokesperson for The Planning Inspectorate stated that the inspector’s rationale is clearly outlined in the Appeal Decision document.

The inspector considers the evidence presented during the appeal and applies national planning policy, as well as local development plan policies, which can vary across different local planning authority areas.


Reference: Gill, O.  Michael Gove stops Papa John’s store opening over obesity fears for local children. The Telegraph. 

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