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Fast-food joint near school overruled

14 June 2010

Planning permission to open a fast-food outlet near a secondary school running a ‘healthy eating’ drive has been revoked by the High Court.

London firm Leigh Day & Co successfully argued that the proximity of the school should have been taken into account by councillors when voting on takeaway firm Fried & Fabulous’ application.

Cranston J held in R (on the application of Copeland) v Tower Hamlets London Borough Council that Tower Hamlets Borough Council had acted unlawfully by deciding the location of the school was not a ‘material consideration’.

The judge said the healthy eating policy at Shadwell’s Bishop Challoner Catholic collegiate school in East London represented a ‘social objective’ which should have been considered by the council.

Matrix Chambers’ David Wolfe, acting for the claimant, argued that the council’s planning officer had acted erroneously by telling the committee that they could not take the school’s location into account when making their decision.

Quashing the council’s decision to grant planning permission, Cranston J said there was a good chance the same committee would have voted differently if they had known the school’s location was a valid concern.

The application for judicial review was made by local resident Edward Copeland, who lives opposite the proposed site and who felt the planning permission went against the school’s healthy eating policy.

During the consultation period the resident had based his objections on the decision of a neighbouring council which had banned takeaways opening near is schools, as well as government policy on the issue.

But the court heard that during the meetings of the planning committee, the council had been told by the planning officer that there was no local or national planning policy which allowed for the school’s proximity to be taken into account.

Richard Harwood, of Thirty Nine Essex Street Chambers, as instructed by the council’s in-house legal team, argued that the school’s proximity had been considered by councillors but they had voted in favour of the application by 5-1 regardless.

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