The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) has lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against plans to develop a large, fast-food, drive-thru restaurant close to a primary school in north Dublin.
The charity wants to overturn Fingal Co Council’s recent granting of planning permission for the 125-seater, two-storey building, at the Skerries Point centre on Barnageeragh Rd, Skerries. It is within 300m of the town’s Educate Together national school.
The IHF, which has called for an oral hearing into the case, said its objections were on health grounds, due to the restaurant’s proposed location.
IHF policy manager, Kathryn Reilly, said the charity believed guidelines for the development of local area plans, issued by the Department of the Environment in 2003, would support an objection to ensure a healthy school environment for children in Skerries.
The IHF said Skerries’ four national schools, and one secondary school, were all within walking distance of the proposed restaurant.
“Not only is the fast-food outlet a producer and distributor of HFSS (high in fat/sugar/salt) foods that lead to increased calorific intake, it also has the associated purpose of creating branding and promotion for junk food,” Ms Reilly said.
“It will increase exposure of children, particularly young, impressionable children, to the signs and smells of HFSS foods that have been proven to be bad for health.”
The IHF said it was regrettable that Fingal Co Council seemed to have sanctioned the restaurant on the basis that the closest school was a primary school, whose children were not permitted to leave at lunch break.
It claimed the development was in clear contravention of the Fingal Council Development Plan 2017-2023, with regard to the location of fast-food outlets.
This appeal places the crisis in children’s diet-related health in the context of the unhealthy food environments, which are omnipresent in every aspect of their lives,” said Ms Reilly.
The IHF said it was also inappropriate to address on a case-by-case basis the issue of new takeaways near schools, which required parents to organise appeals against planning applications that were contrary to national policy.
It claimed the development of ‘no-fry zones’ was an integral part of efforts to tackle obesity.
The IHF reminded the planning appeals authority that it had already refused planning permission for takeaways in Navan and Tallaght due to health concerns.
Some 200 submissions were made to the local authority against the development. Local TDs from Dublin Fingal, including Fine Gael’s Alan Farrell, Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly, Labour’s Brendan Ryan, and Independent TD Clare Daly, have all voiced opposition to the project.
The original application, for a 24-hour opening, was lodged by development firm, Marbleside, last year, but was later withdrawn, following strong local objections. However, similar plans were resubmitted, but with shorter opening hours of 6.30am-11.30pm.
Asked to justify the location of the restaurant, the company said responsibility rested with parents.
A ruling is due by August 1.