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Planners reject fast-food bid

A FAST-FOOD restaurant has been refused planning permission because the proposed site is too close to a school.

Stirling Council's planning team rejected the application from McDonald's, saying it could have had an adverse impact on the promotion of healthy eating at the high school.

The panel unanimously refused permission to build a new restaurant and drive-through at Springkerse Business Park in Stirling – just 300 yards from St Modan's High School.

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The council was asked to scrutinise whether the vacant site, less than a mile from the city centre, was appropriate for such an enterprise, and whether it was an appropriate development given its close proximity to the Catholic school.

The panel, chaired by Labour councillor Christine Simpson, decided the application went against the Scottish Government's Obesity Route Map Action Plan.

There were more than 20 objections to the proposal at a council planning hearing, including one from St Modan's parent council.

Parents argued the restaurant would have "a significant negative impact on the health, safety and wellbeing of the pupils" and that it appeared "to contrast with Government policy and initiatives designed to alleviate the burden of obesity".

They claimed the promotion of healthy eating and healthy lifestyle by St Modan's would be undermined by the close proximity of a fast-food outlet.

Complainers added the restaurant would tempt pupils to leave the school grounds and that an increase in traffic in and around the shared access routes would increase the likelihood of accidents.

The panel responded: "The adverse impact on the promotion of healthy eating by St Modan's High School and the consequences of locating a fast- food establishment in close proximity to the school on the health and wellbeing of pupils are recognised."

The restaurant would also have fallen outwith designated uses for the site – which included office accommodation, general industry and storage or distribution facilities.

The move follows a study which called for councils to restrict the number of fast-food outlets close to schools. It said more than half of the food purchased by pupils taking part in the Glasgow Centre for Population Health report exceeded recommended levels of fat and calories. Nutritional tests also found that one-third breached Government guidelines on salt.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) claimed it was right that parents' views were taken into consideration by the planning team. Eileen Prior, executive director of SPTC, said: "If this is what the parents at that school wanted, then it's absolutely right that they voiced that opinion. The parents have made their argument and I imagine that reflects the work they've done within the school."

Steven Birrell, communications officer for McDonald's Scotland, said: "We are disappointed the planning application has been declined for a new restaurant, which would have created a mix of 70 full and part-time jobs and we await the written details of this decision.

"We have had a long-term interest in opening a restaurant in the Springkerse area that pre-dates the building of St Modans High School."

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Food and drink

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