A food firm yesterday narrowly won permission to open a meat plant beside a prominent Sikh temple in Bradford – despite fierce opposition by worshippers.

But the business owner said afterwards the decision “didn’t feel like a victory” with so many people left upset and pledged to do what he could to mitigate its effects.

Food firm Pakeezah applied to convert a disused car workshop in Percival Street into a wholesale meat plant.

The site is near the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara building, which fronts on to Leeds Road, and hundreds of Sikhs, many of whom are strict vegetarians, objected.

It was standing room only as protesters packed into the Bradford Area Planning Panel for a tense meeting yesterday, with more people demonstrating outside City Hall with placards.

Barrister Kuljeet Singh, representing the Sikh community, said hearing carcasses being cut up would upset worshippers at prayer.

He said: “The purity and sanctity of the Gurdwara is going to be seriously undermined and that will have an effect on the right to worship of Sikhs.”

Pakeezah director Tariq Haq told the panel the plant would create no disturbing smells or noises.

He said: “If we get permission today, I would like to go to the temple in six months and say ‘Has it affected you in any way whatsoever?’ And it won’t.”

Mr Haq said it was important to him to maintain good relations with his neighbours. He said: “I’ve grown up with Sikhs all my life. When I found out there were concerns we went straight round to the temple.”

At the meeting yesterday, councillors were split down the middle.

Councillors Malcolm Sykes, Imran Khan and Alan Wainwright wanted the plan to be refused.

Coun Khan said: “I’m a proud Muslim but I would find it very difficult to pray with someone chopping a pig up literally 20 metres away from me. To me, that would be offensive.

“I think what we need to realise is, for the Sikh community this is the same thing.”

But Councillors Shabir Hussain, Keith Dredge and Zameer Shah were content to approve it.

Coun Dredge said: “My beliefs dictate that people can believe what they want and worship what they want and I don’t wish to interfere with that in any way, shape or form.

“But I don’t feel that this would impact on the worship at the Sikh temple.”

It was left to the casting vote of the chairman, Coun Hussain, who decided to approve the plan.

There were angry comments from objectors as the decision was announced and one panel member suggested security guards could be called.

After the meeting, Mr Haq said: “The decision doesn’t feel like a victory because people are upset. But we want to do everything in our power to make a plant that won’t affect the temple.”