The new managers of a controversial shisha lounge in Bradford have pledged to make the business “entirely legitimate” after years of it being run without planning permission.
Mohammed Shabir, of Northern Coffee Shops, has recently taken over Al Qaza Lounge, a former warehouse building on Mortimer Street, off Thornton Road. The business has been running without planning permission for several years, but Mr Shabir has submitted a retrospective planning application that would allow the luxury lounge, that can cater for up to 250 people at a time, to stay open.
In October 2012 then manager Ajaz Ali was fined £1,000 for allowing smoking on the premises, and in November Bradford Council began enforcement action against the business due to it not having planning permission.
Since 2009 several applications for the building, to turn it into a wedding hall, restaurant and shisha bar, have been refused by the council, leading to last year’s enforcement notice being issued.
Mr Shabir’s application says work on the lounge, which includes a courtyard area, was fully completed in 2012.
It adds: “The current development was undertaken without prior planning consent. However the facility is now under new management and there is a strong desire to resolve the issues that have been previously raised.
“As a quality establishment, the operators are keen to ensure the cafe is entirely legitimate, compliant and fulfils all obligations as set out in smoking legislation.”
The application is for a “sophisticated venue that offers a smoking compliant shisha area, coffee lounge and desert parlour” that would open from 5pm to 11pm.
A decision is expected to be made on the application in early April.
The law says it is illegal to smoke shisha – flavoured tobacco smoked through large pipes – in an enclosed public space, or a space that is mostly enclosed – similar to tobacco. To smoke in any public premises with a roof, at least half the wall space must be open.
If people are smoking shisha in a public premises, it is the owner or manager who is committing an offence.