Recent changes to planning laws mean a bank can be converted into a restaurant without planning permission, Councillors have been told.
Last year an application to turn the former Barclays bank on Duckworth Lane into a takeaway was refused by Bradford Council, with planning officers saying there was not enough parking for such a business on the busy road.
Yesterday at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Bradford Planning Panel, members were due to decide on another application for the building – this time for an extraction canopy and an air conditioning unit and submitted by Salman Rajab.
Planning officers told the meeting that these additions, which would be built at the rear of the building, were to allow the unit to open as a restaurant.
When questioned about how the unit could become a restaurant when it was already deemed unsuitable for a takeaway, officers pointed out that changes to planning rules made by the Government in late 2020 meant a restaurant fell under the same planning classification as a bank.
It could therefore be converted without the permission of Bradford Council.
The changes to planning rules mean shops, banks, restaurants and cafes, “business” and “assembly and leisure” all fall into the same planning use class. Turning one of these uses into another within this class does not require permission.
Councillor Mohammed Amran (Lab, Heaton) said: “We all know this is going to be a takeaway.”
Planning officer Amin Ibrar replied: “We don’t know that. If they do become a take away there are enforcement powers we can use.”
Councillor Riaz Ahmed (Lib Dem, Bradford Moor) said: “If planning was rejected because there was not enough car parking, I don’t see how this could become a restaurant. I don’t see any extra parking.”
Mr Ibrar said: “It falls into the same use class (as a bank). They don’t need a change of use application to become a restaurant. They could open a restaurant without any planning permission.”
He said they were there to discuss the plan for an extraction canopy and an AC unit, not the use of the building.
Councillor Arshad Hussain (Lab, Toller) spoke on behalf of objectors, saying: “When you look at the previous plans (for a take away), these are exactly the same. the only difference is the wording. It used to be a hot food take away with seating, not it is a restaurant.”
He said the large amount of existing food businesses in the area meant the streets were an “absolute mess” at nights, and attracted mice and rats.
Despite being told that any refusal of the application would be difficult to depend on the appeal, Cllr Amran proposed the plans be rejected because the canopy and AC unit would not fit in with the street scene.
Cllr Riaz said: “It is a massive problems that there would be no car parking. There is a major hospital in the vicinity, and car parking on this street hinders people trying to get there.
“It is about time we started taking some difficult decisions.”
The committee then voted to refuse the application.