City Hall to consider a drive-thru ban for Cork

City Hall to consider a drive-thru ban for Cork
The McDonald's drive-thru outside Cashel on the Cork-Dublin motorway. Such developments would be banned in Cork city if a new motion is approved.

Planners in City Hall will be asked to consider refusing permission for any future drive-thru restaurants in Cork. 

Green Party councillor Dan Boyle will bring a motion before the council this month seeking planning conditions for restaurants to include a stipulation that fast food chains cannot provide a drive-thru order window.

Mr Boyle believes this may help to create a healthier city and could reduce car emissions.

He has stressed that his motion is not seeking to close down any of the existing drive-thru windows in city fast food outlets and the planning restriction if adopted, would only apply to new planning applications.

There are several drive-thru restaurants dotted across Cork city, most of which are operated under the McDonald’s franchise.

Such planning conditions are becoming commonplace in North America.

Minneapolis in the US and a number cities in other states have banned any new drive-thrus in an effort to tackle obesity and create healthier environments for citizens but academics in South Los Angeles found in research that obesity actually continued to rise after restrictions were put in place.

No research yet exists to suggest that car emissions can be reduced by banning drive-thrus.

Fast food outlets that provide a drive-thru window in many Canadian cities are also now banned from being developed in the future.

Mr Boyle said he is floating the idea ahead of the drawing of the new City Development Plan which will be devised from the beginning of 2020.

“I’m trying to start a debate in advance of the next development plan that we don’t progress any further drive-thru restaurants in terms of what they represent in terms of a public health policy and an environmental policy. Drive-thrus are not a public good. It’s something that we should discourage now that they exist,” said Mr Boyle.

“I’m not suggesting that the ones that are already there to be closed or people can’t use them. It’s an Americanism that has been imported.

“You are driving through them and you are creating emissions that are unnecessary. You’re in your car all the time, there are restrictions to your movement. It wouldn’t kill people to walk an extra few hundred metres.

“It is a planning guideline, I don’t see it as a restriction to trade. It’s not stopping a restaurant being a restaurant and it’s not stopping fast food outlet or a restaurant being a takeaway, it’s merely a planning condition. We put conditions on planning that light can’t be blocked or views can’t be restricted. It’s no different from other planning conditions,“ Mr Boyle added.

The matter is due to be discussed by the council’s community, culture and placemaking strategic policy committee this month.

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