Government overturns Yorkshire council's decision to refuse cafe to be built in shipping container

A Government inspector has approved an application for a shipping container cafe on Leeds Road that has been refused by Bradford Council twice.

Approving an appeal to retain the Chaii Walay cafe, the inspector dismissed concerns over the business’ impact on traffic on Leeds Road, one of the busiest roads in the city, saying they saw no evidence that the area suffered problems with parking.

Work on the Chaii Walay cafe, which has been created from a shipping container at the back of the Orange Street car park, was completed in May 2020 and the business has been trading since them.

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Since then two retrospective applications for the business have been refused by council planning officers.

Chaii Walay cafe

They raised concerns about the impact of the business on traffic on the notoriously busy street.

On both occasions officers pointed out that the car park had been provided by the council to provide much needed parking on Leeds Road. They said: “The loss of any public car parking spaces is unacceptable.”

After the second refusal, applicant Shahid Khan appealed the decision – meaning the final decision was taken out of the council’s hands and would instead be made by a Government planning inspector.

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A decision on that appeal has now been made – with inspector overturning the council decision.

They said while there was “little doubt” that the business would increase traffic to the area, he said that area of Leeds Road did not seem to be “at capacity” for parking when they visited the site.

He also claimed the converted shipping container would provide “visual interest” to the street. Planning officers at Bradford Council had claimed the converted shipping container would be a “poor design.”

The planning application had said a customer parking space be provided, with access of Florence Street. This would mean customers would not need to park on Leeds Road or the Orange Street car park.

Planning inspector R Hitchcock acknowledged that the car park plan would likely be unworkable, saying: “Customers would not necessarily be aware of the lower parking area, nor could its use be practicably enforced.

“Furthermore, the route to the car park is somewhat convoluted, less inviting, and subject to more limited lighting such that it would neither be convenient nor feel secure.”

But he claimed that even without this dedicated car park, the business would not cause any problems, adding: “The proposed opening times would overlap with busy afternoon and early evening periods associated with other nearby businesses.

“At the time of my site visit, albeit a limited snapshot in time, the Orange Street car park was well used and subject to a steady turnover of vehicles entering and leaving the site.

“On-street parking along the main road was also well used but neither were observed to be at capacity.

“Whilst I have little doubt that the use of the site draws additional vehicular and foot traffic, there is little before me to demonstrate that the use results in excessive parking demand that cannot be accommodated by the existing facilities, or that it results in out-spill, inconsiderate or hazardous parking that would elevate highway safety concerns within or about the public car park.”

Conditions imposed on the cafe include opening times until 1am on Monday to Friday and Sundays and 1.30am on Saturdays.

Councillor Riaz Ahmed said: “I think the inspector has made a mistake with this. It is basically allowing council land to be used as a private car park for a business. The car park was set up for customers of local businesses. It beggars belief.

“There is a massive issue on Leeds Road with parking, especially on the evening. I wonder if the council didn’t make a strong enough case in the appeal. I sit on a planning committee as an alternate. If any decisions can just be overturned the question is what it the point?"