FAST food giant KFC has won its bid for a new restaurant next to Shirley Heath Junior School.
The proposal came under massive fire from campaigners and the local community – mostly because of its close proximity to the school.
And Solihull Council supported their calls when its planning committee rejected the application.
But KFC took its appeal to the Planning Inspectorate – and now an officer in Bristol has given the controversial development on the former Entrinsic site on Stratford Road the go ahead.
Gail Knight, head teacher at Shirley Heath, said she was very disappointed.
“The drive through is right next to the path where some 200 plus children come out of school – I don’t think the children’s safety has been considered,” she added.
“Safety was always my main issue and I now need to concentrate on ensuring that so I am hoping there is and will be asking for a very large fence between our school path and the new restaurant.”
Ward councillor Gary Allport attended the Inquiry each of the four days where he spoke against the application and supplied figures on childhood obesity and employment levels to the inspector.
He said: “I am very disappointed by this decision. After the enquiry closed, I made further submissions to the Inspectorate at the request of the Inspector, as did other people.”
Julian Knight, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Solihull, added: “This is outrageous. Ignoring the concerns of the families of Shirley puts the whole planning appeals system into disrepute.”
Coun Andy Hodgson said the outcome of the appeal was very disappointing.
“The location is totally inappropriate, being adjacent to one of the accesses to Shirley Heath Junior School and on the route to and from school for many Light Hall pupils.”
Coun David Bell, chairman of the planning committee, said the committee’s decision to refuse the application was based on concerns about the close proximity of the site to a local primary school, residential area and busy road, and the impact this will have on people’s health and wellbeing.
Coun Bell added: “It should be noted that the decision is subject to a number of conditions which give the Council control over some important details of the scheme.
“Since this application we have published our Local Plan which sets out our commitment to provide residents with opportunities to consume fresh food and manage the concentration of hot food takeaways around schools.”
Solihull MP Lorely Burt said the decision is a kick in the teeth for residents who fought hard to get it stopped, adding: “Parents are under pressure to give their children fast food, but with obesity rising in this country it is really important that we do not put temptation in their way.”
Shirley Heath Junior School head teacher Gail Knight.