Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Mile End - Fast Food Update

Location of SIXTEEN A5 (hot food takeaways)
in the Mile End area
(see end of post for explanation of A3 and A5)

Did you know that:
  • children in Tower Hamlets are much more obese than children elsewhere in London and England?
  • Focus groups recently interviewed by the Council identified the number of fast food outlets in an area as being an important contributory factor in people having a poor diet?
  • there are 41.8 junk food outlets to every school in Tower Hamlets  compared to the national average ratio of 25 outlets per school?(City University School of Community and Health Sciences research)
  • there are SIXTEEN hot food takeaway units in the Mile End Area?

Children in Tower Hamlets are far more obese
than children living elsewhere in London and England

Did you also know that the Council has been reviewing how Tower Hamlets can become a more healthy community?
    In September last year the Council set up the The Childhood Obesity Scrutiny Review Working Group Its aim was to identify how the Council and NHS in Tower Hamlets could work together to reduce the serious problem of childhood obesity in the borough.

    One of the key objectives of the review was to identify how to better manage and regulate the fast food outlets within the borough - with the specific aim of making sure that they don't become too concentrated

    A report was received and approved by the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 8 June 2010.  Members of the Committee welcomed the report and made a number of comments about the importance of promoting healthy eating and exercise as well as focusing on the planning and business issues in relation to fast food outlets.

    One of the outcomes of the review is that the Development and Renewal Directorate intend to submit a paper to Cabinet titled ‘Healthy Borough Programme – Managing Fast Food Outlets via Planning’.

    MERA is currently trying to find out what progress has been made on getting this published.

    Fast Food Planning Applications in Mile End

    MERA is  taking a lead on making sure that:
    • there's a focus on helping the local community in Mile End to be more healthy
    • environmental concerns associated with takeaways are reduced
    • local retail activitiy is not swamped any further by yet more hot food takeaways
    • we promote the role of local shops within the local economy.
    Of late, what used to be retail units (Class A1 Use) have progressively been taken over by fast food takeaways (A5) and betting shops (A4) - with no apparent regard for the concentration of A5 in the Mile End area.

    The impact is detrimental to both the local economy and amenity in general
    • Retail activity in the Mile End area needs to be supported.  Shops need other shops around them to attract shoppers and thrive.   The fewer the shops, the less likely they are to attract customers.
    • There's a knock-on effect in terms of the amount of litter and smells in the environment which are NOT dealt with effectively by the building control, environmental health and refuse collection activities of the Council.
    This is what one local resident recently had to say about the level of rubbish around Mile End Tube Station and Burdett Road
    ...some of my colleagues who do not live around there but come out of the Underground to get a bus down to Canary Wharf, simply can't believe the mess of the place.  Canary Wharf is also Tower Hamlets, and there are bins everywhere for rubbish.  Why do we in Mile End have to put up with third class eating places and second class provision for rubbish?
    After the MERA Survey of Hot Food Take-aways in the Mile End Area, MERA now takes the view that there are quite enough fast food outlets and that we will in future oppose all planning applications which propose any change of use from A1 Retail to A5 hot food takeaway.

    Quality control of planning applications

    Recently members of MERA have been invited to comment on yet another planning application for a proposed change of use - PA/10/01611 566 Mile End Road - Change of use from A1 to A5 hot food take away only (see categories of use below)

     Yesterday - just three hours before the deadline for the end of a 21 day consulation period - and after a number of members had taken the time and effort to submit their observations and objections, the planning application was REMOVED from the Tower Hamlets Planning Application Database. 
    Apparently the planning application was deemed invalid due to the fact that the Certificate of Ownership has been completed incorrectly.

    This followed confusion about the address of the property which had listed two separate addresses (556 Mile End Road and 566 Mile End Road) in its application which Mark Taylor, the MERA Chair highlighted to Planning on 20th August.

    While these might be the sort of routine mistakes any applicant might make in submitting an application we would have thought that these type of mistakes would have been picked up by the Planning Department's quality control processes prior to applications being published for consultation with the public.  We have an email from the Council saying that the application was validated and yet that validation failed to pick up either of these two fundamental mistakes.

    MERA has been impressed of late with the quality of responses we have been getting from Planning when we raise issues.  It was was therefore very disappointing to find all our efforts apparently wasted this time around.

    We sincerely hope that Tower Hamlets Planning will derive some lessons from this as we really don't need our time wasted by mistakes of this sort again!

    We understand that a further application is to be submitted.  If you'd like a copy of the MERA letter of objection do please get in touch - you can find details of how to contact us in the right hand column.

    NOTE: These are the classes of planning use associated with economic activity at Mile End.  These are what the terms mean when you see an application for a proposed change of use.
    A1 Shops - Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices (but not sorting offices), pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes.

    A2 Financial and professional services - Financial services such as banks and building societies, professional services (other than health and medical services) including estate and employment agencies and betting offices.

    A3 Restaurants and caf├ęs - For the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises - restaurants, snack bars and cafes

    A4 Drinking establishments - Public houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments (but not night clubs).

    A5 Hot food takeaways - For the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises.

    Sui Generis - Certain uses do not fall within any use class and are considered 'sui generis'. Such uses include: theatres, houses in multiple occupation, hostels providing no significant element of care, scrap yards. Petrol filling stations and shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles. Retail warehouse clubs, nightclubs, launderettes, taxi businesses, amusement centres and casinos.

    Planning - Use Classes

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