Northumberland takeaway owner's fury over rival shop

Northumberland County Council has approved a planning application for a takeaway in Shilbottle despite protests from an existing takeaway owner

Yusuf Sabanci, outside his takeaway in the village of Shilbottle, Northumberland

A Northumberland takeaway owner has hit out at a council after being barred from speaking against a proposal for a rival business which he fears could jeopardise his livelihood.

Yusuf Sabanci, owner of newly opened SFC Pizza in Shilbottle, near Alnwick, objected to a planning application for a rival takeaway in the village.

He attended the Northumberland County Council planning committee meeting at which the proposal was determined with his wife and three young children and understood he would be able to address the committee.

However, after the family had waited almost four hours for the application to be discussed, Mr Sabanci was then told he could not speak. The application was approved, he claims by a single vote.

Mr Sabanci has now lodged a complaint with the authority, claiming the vote may have gone his way had he been given the chance to speak.

He believes the approval for a rival in a small community will see his business struggle.

The council has blamed a “misunderstanding”, saying Mr Sabanci should have registered before the meeting, and apologised.

Mr Sabanci, 44, was given planning permission to open his venture on Percy Road two years ago. Financial difficulties delayed the opening until two weeks ago, with the businessman having to take out a loan of tens of thousands of pounds to cover the costs of the venture.

When Mr Sabanci discovered the rival application for a takeaway at Shilbottle Working Men’s Club, he objected claiming there is not enough business to sustain two outlets in a relatively small village. The businessman has now lodged a complaint with the council and said: “They did not give us a chance to talk, one minute to talk. If they gave us a chance to speak, (it could have been) 4-3 to us.

“We are going to be struggling here because it is a small town. Now the other shop is going to open, it is going to be very hard for me. I am going to be struggling to pay my bills. I am worried about my kids.”

A council spokesperson said: “Anyone who wishes to speak as an objector at a planning committee meeting must register by 12 noon the day before the meeting.

“This gives us the opportunity to notify the applicants so they can attend the meeting. A misunderstanding arose at the meeting as to whether Mr and Mrs Sabanci had registered, when they had not. This led to them being under the impression they would be allowed to speak at the meeting. We understand that planning meetings can be stressful occasions for all involved which is why processes that are fair to all the parties are so important. We can only apologise for any inconvenience caused by the misunderstanding.”

The Journal has been told the misunderstanding may have seen the clerk confuse the objector’s name for that of the applicant, Janice Bagci, who had registered to speak. Ms Bagci, of Hadrian Park, Wallsend, declined to comment last night.

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