A SANDWICH shop owner plans to fight a Sunderland City Council decision which threatens his business.
Ell’s Kitchen, in Whitehall Terrace, has been refused permission to change the use of the premises from a retail shop to a hot food takeaway.
The shop has operated without such approval since September 2008, but that only recently came to light as the owners thought the paperwork was in place when they bought it.
Also, it has successfully passed five scrutiny visits from council inspectors over the years, who awarded top marks of five stars for health and hygiene.
Now Ell’s owner Raymond Peggie is infuriated by the refusal to allow him to keep alive his sandwich shop, which he says has won an army of loyal patrons from nearby Sunderland Royal Hospital.
“I’m absolutely gutted,” said the 64-year-old. “I’m gutted for the lasses who work for us. They’re about to be put on the scrap heap and they have young families.
“I’m near retirement age and this was going to be my nest egg, something to fall back on.”
Although the shop is still operating, it will have to close if it does not get the correct licence.
Planning officers said the application was refused because: “The proposal is considered likely to cause significant harm to neighbouring residents in terms of noise/disturbance, and would likely result in conditions prejudicial to highway safety given the lack of on-street parking in the immediate vicinity of the front of the premises.”
They added: “The proposed use would have a detrimental effect on the amenities of nearby residents by reason of noise, smell and disturbance.”
However, Mr Peggie labelled the reasons given for refusal as “feeble excuses.”
He added: “We’ve been here three years and never had any bother.
“When the health and hygiene visitors first came we were given a pat on the back and told there had been no complaints about things like noise.”
He now plans to appeal against the decision.
“We’ve got a petition going and it’s already got near 300 signatures.
“The Government and council keep saying they want to people to get up and start businesses to help fight the recession, but they do things like this. I think it’s diabolical.”