A DECISION over whether to allow a proposal for an unusual Sri Lankan-style takeaway at a Darlington fast food hotspot has been put on hold after its owner compared the healthy grilled food he would offer to obese people to providing nicotine patches for smokers.

Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee agreed to reconsider Irshad Shafee’s plan to convert estate agency offices into a takeaway on North Road next month so more evidence could be gathered over how his shop would overcome concerns for its impact on nearby residents.

Public Health England’s latest annual report has highlighted how the number of fast food outlets in Darlington per resident stood at 148.6 per 100,000. Only three local authorities in all of England have more takeaways per head of population than Darlington.

Objections to the proposal highlighted how there are about three dozen fast food outlets in the surrounding area.

North Road councillor Anne-Marie Curry told members she was concerned for the vulnerable residents of a warden-controlled housing association development behind the property, saying they would suffer from noise, dust, smells and fat molecules from the extractor system.

She added: “We have a council policy on childhood obesity and there’s three schools in the local area. I know we are concentrating on secondary schools, but obesity starts at primary school and if you’ve got a little child going to Brownies or Scouts afterwards sometimes mothers do pick up takeaways.”

Cllr Curry said North Road already came to a standstill four times a day due to the amount of traffic and so if people were pulling in and out to go to the takeaway it would create an extra hazard.

Following planning officers recommending his scheme be rejected, Mr Shafee told the committee his shop would not aggravate obesity in the area or cause offensive smells for neighbours.

He said he would spend more than £20,000 two-filter extractor fan and flu system and that he would be living in the flat above the proposed takeaway.

Mr Shafee said: “I don’t want to be bombarded with the extractor fan noise and smell coming from the shop. I am making sure there is minimal noise and minimal smell.”

He said while the noise of cars and surrounding environment stood at 60 decibels, the noise from his proposed system would be just 45 decibels.

He added: “A lot of people thought it was going to be another unhealthy takeaway offering greasy food. What I’m proposing is just grilled healthy food, just grilled chicken. I can see there are issues with obesity. What has society or anyone provided to tackle it? There’s nothing out there, so by providing something healthier we could help cut down obesity by a certain percentage. To tackle obesity you have to provide an alternative.”