FEARS Middlesbrough is becoming a “pizza and parmo capital of the world” have seen efforts to open a new takeaway unanimously rejected.
Plans to turn a Newport Crescent corner shop into a pizza shop had been recommended for approval by Middlesbrough Council officers.
But all 10 members of Friday’s planning committee voted to refuse the bid over worries about the number of takeaways and shops selling hot food in the town centre. Data from Public Health England shows almost 70% of adults in Middlesbrough are classed as overweight or obese.
This exceeds both the national and North-east averages.
The town centre’s three Labour councillors objected to the plans over the impact of takeaways on the health of the town.
Conservative group leader Cllr David Coupe agreed – telling the committee it was “yet another” hot food outlet – and there were plenty of other shops selling fast food in the town. “It’s adding to it and adding to it,” said Cllr Coupe. “Where do you stop?”
He added: “We’re just going to be known as the pizza and parmo capital of the world the way we’re going.
“I accept Linthorpe Road is a little bit away but there are just more and more.”
The council’s interim hot food takeaway policy is designed to manage the number of outlets in Middlesbrough.
Rules prohibit takeaways making up more than 10% of building uses in the town centre.
They also stop outlets opening within 400m walking distance of a secondary school and more than two takeaways opening next to one another.
Planning officials told councillors the Newport Crescent plan met the hot food regulations. The report added: “The proposed use is considered not to be harmful to the vitality and viability of the town centre as the proposal will not result in the proportion of hot food takeaways in the town centre exceeding 10%.”
Councillors were also told nearby Greggs wasn’t classed as a hot food takeaway – something chairman Cllr John Hobson couldn’t believe. Members also shared misgivings about rubbish piling up, hygiene and smells from the new pizza shop takeaway. Cllr Janet Thompson said she couldn’t back the plans on public health grounds.
The Labour member added: “We’ve got an increasing rat infestation in Middlesbrough and central Middlesbrough is one of the top wards for that.”
But council officers said bins in the right places and enforcement action if needed would tackle waste problems should any arise. Planning chief Paul Clarke warned the committee it couldn’t just refuse the plans because the shop was another hot food takeaway. However, the vote to refuse the plans on the grounds of too many outlets in the town centre was backed 10-0.