The impact of Covid 19 on the hot food takeaway planning regulatory environment: perspectives of Local Authority professionals in the North East of England

Helen Moore, Amelia Lake, Claire O'Malley, Callum Bradford, Nicholas Gray, Michael Chang, Claire Mathews, Tim Townshend

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Abstract

Background & Aims:
Planning regulations have been used to prevent the over-proliferation of hot food takeaways, minimising the impact of local obesogenic environments. To help mitigate the effects of lockdown, the UK government introduced temporary changes in March 2020 to Planning Regulations for England, allowing food retailers to open for takeaway services beyond ‘ancillary’ level without needing to apply for planning permission through permitted development rights (PDR). Businesses are required to notify their local authority (LA) when they implement PDRs. To better understand the impact of regulations on the policy and practice of key professional groups, Public Health England commissioned Teesside University to undertake scoping research in the North East of England.

Methods:
A focus group and interviews were conducted with 15 professionals from 7 of 12 North East LAs. Professions included Planners, Public Health Leads, Environmental Health Officers and Town Centre Managers. Data were analysed using a codebook thematic analysis approach. An interpretation meeting with some participants was conducted.

Results:
LAs were not aware of most businesses notifying them of new regulation adherence despite taking up PDRs, but were considered low-priority with many lacking formal recording procedures. There were concerns about health consequences of the changes, and consensus relating to ongoing issues with capacity across all professional groups, largely due to the continuing pandemic and absence of a strategy out of temporary measures. Concerns existed around ensuring cessation of restaurants trading as takeaways, and hygiene inspections backlog. Many (personally) saw new takeaways as a lifeline, offering broader menus and preserving local economies.

Conclusion:
Lack of information around the number of restaurants/pubs using PDR to trade as takeaway services, ongoing capacity issues of LAs and, at the time, the absence of a strategy post regulation changes, meant there were high levels of uncertainty regarding the impacts of these temporary measures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPerspectives in Public Health
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2022

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