PLANS to turn a former convenience store into a Domino's pizza takeaway have been submitted despite the proposed site lying within a 400-metre 'exclusion zone' from nearby schools.

Proposals to change the use of the former Sherdley News & Booze on Mill Lane, Sutton Leach, into a takeaway on the ground floor and a three-bedroom residential flat on the first floor have been drawn up.

Plans state the ground floor would include a customer area at the front, a limited amount of seating; kitchen, office and wash up area towards the centre and staff welfare and storage areas towards the back with a refuse store at the rear of the takeaway.

READ > Layby closed by council task group to tackle HGV problems

The plans note that Sherdley Primary School "is approximately 235 metres east of the site although the walking distance is much further at 350 metres" and that Sutton Academy secondary school "is approximately 300 metres (350 metres' walking distance) north west of the site".

St Helens Star:

Sutton Academy

These are both within the 400-metre 'exclusion' zone which prevents takeaway premises being permitted outside of St Helens and Earlestown town centres.

A design and access statement drawn up by Pegasus Group, on behalf of the applicants DPSK Ltd, makes reference to a previous planning application for a takeaway on Park Road, Fingerpost which was approved by the council earlier this year.

It says: "The proposals were approved on the basis that the site would bring a vacant unit back into use and despite the fact that the site was within 400 metres of a primary school.

"It was considered by the case officer that the proposed opening hours (after 4pm) would mean that there would be no harmful impact on the school pupils and therefore the proposals were acceptable".

The application adds that the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) Hot Food Takeaways (which implemented the 400m 'exclusion zones') was adopted in June 2011 "which predates the current (NPPF) National Planning Policy Framework (2019)" and claims it is therefore not "up to date".

It also claims "the status of this part of the SPD is not clear as there is no corresponding healthy eating policy within the Core Strategy or saved policies of the Local Plan (1998) on which this point can build".

The statement adds: "The NPPF confirms that local planning authorities should create policies that are flexible enough to accommodate needs not anticipated in the plan and to allow a rapid response to changes in economic circumstances.

"Imposing a blanket ban on takeaways within 400 metres of the entrances and exits of schools would prevent any takeaways within large areas of the St Helens Local Authority area".

St Helens Star:

Pic: Google Streetview

The document adds: "In reality, a young person of school age would be unlikely to purchase food from a takeaway operation such as Domino's Pizza, who intend to occupy the site, on a regular basis during school lunch hours or after school closing time.

"They would be more likely to purchase a sugary drink or chocolate bar from a convenience store or a cake and refreshments from a café than visit a Domino's Pizza store".

St Helens Star:

Plans add: "It is considered that the introduction of a Domino’s Pizza would not be likely to influence behaviour harmful to health.

"The proposed change of use would allow for the occupation of a vacant commercial unit and would provide a number of employment opportunities for local residents including young people".

Consultation on plans lasts until Friday, December 4.

A determination deadline has been set for January 5, 2021.