A shisha bar which opened without planning permission has been allowed to continue operating. Licensing officers at Leicester City Council had recommended that members of the planning and development committee reject a planning application for Double Apple, in Green Lane Road, North Evington, Leicester. But councillors allowed owner Shahin Surtee to keep running the business, which is in a car park, for one year.
The site is the old car park of a former woodwork machinery factory. It is designated in planning terms as “an employment site” – appropriate for industry but not retail or cafe facilities even though it has been vacant for 12 years.
All seven councillors present at the meeting voted in favour of the application, on the grounds that it is better for the site to be used as a shisha cafe, which employs five people, than lie empty. Coun Dr Lynn Moore said: “I applaud the incentive of the people that run this. Given this is intended for industry, where is the industry to occupy it?”
Councillor Rashmikant Joshi said: “I was passing by this place and I went inside and it was quite a relaxing place with a family atmosphere.”
The committee gave Mr Surtee sole permission to run the property as a shisha cafe – and no other type of business – for one year. They also insisted that between Monday and Friday the venue close at 10pm, and on Saturday and Sunday at 11pm, to limit disturbances to neighbours.
Mr Surtee said after the meeting: “I am very relieved. I want to thank the councillors that voted in favour of the cafe.”