Scotmid appeal over Midlothian primary schools takeaway ban dismissed
A BID to overturn a ban on a hot food takeaway opening within 400 metres of a primary school has been dismissed at appeal.
Scotmid had challenged a decision by Midlothian Council to refuse permission to turn a shop it owns into a takeaway because it is too close to Lasswade Primary School in Bonnyrigg.
The local authority introduced new guidance late last year which set out how close new hot food vendors would be allowed to its schools.
And at a meeting of its Local Review Body this week, members backed the guidelines rejecting Scotmid’s appeal against the decision.
The food giants had challenged the decision to include primary schools in the ban, saying that most youngsters would not be allowed out during the day.
Members of the review body visited the site of the shop, on Lothian Street, before meeting to discuss the appeal at council chambers on Tuesday.
The shop, which was formerly Sprott’s News, is said to be 235 metres from the school boundary ‘as the crow flies’, although Scotmid points out that by road it is 380 metres away.
Appealing against the refusal on Scotmid’s behalf, the company’s agent challenged the inclusion of primary schools in the council’s ban.
He said: “We have great difficult in understanding why such restrictions should apply equally to primary schools given that pupils in the latter are retained within school grounds for the entire duration of the school day.”
And he added: “In the circumstances, it is inconceivable to consider that the physical relationship of the application site to Lasswade Primary School in this instance would pose a risk to the health and wellbeing of any pupil attending it.”
The retail shop closed at the end of September last year due to what were described as poor trading conditions.
Scotmid was hoping to turn it into a hot food takeaway; however, the new supplementary guidance approved by Midlothian Council led to it being refused planning permission.
The guidance said: “It is reasonable and appropriate for the council to prevent provision of new premises and the change of use of premises to hot food takeaways on account of the adverse impact that they have on the diets of young people and the health of communities.
“Hot food takeaways will not be permitted where they fall within 400 metres of the curtilage of a primary or secondary school.”
Scotmid’s agents said that if concerns about the school continued, they would agree to alter the takeaway’s opening hours to ensure they did not coincide with the time children travelled to and from school.
But the Local Review Body backed the original decision by council officials to refuse the planning application.
Scotmid will now decide whether to take its case to the Scottish Government.