THE owner of struggling corner shop, which could be forced to close in the next few months, has slammed a council after plans to turn it into a takeaway were refused.

Rajinder Singh of The Munch Hut in Darlington said plans to convert the premises into a takeaway had been a last ditch attempt to prevent “yet another empty unit” in the town.

Mr Singh, who has run the Haughton Road premises for the past decade, criticised Darlington Borough Council after they refused a change-of-use application on Friday, January 10.

He said: “We’ve not been doing well because the council are letting pound shops open everywhere, which are killing all the small shops off.

“Wages are going up so we can’t afford that, at the end of the day, a struggling business should be given a bit of a lifeline.”

The Northern Echo:

A planning application received by Darlington Council before new year requested permission for a change from Use Class A1 to Use Class A5, which would have allowed a hot food takeaway to open.

But refusing the plans last week despite no objections from residents, Darlington Council said the proposed use would have a “materially adverse impact on the living environment of neighbouring residents”.

Arguing against this, Mr Singh said residents did not use the convenience store, rather the main source of trade came from Darlington College students.

He said: "They've got Victoria Road completely packed out with takeaways, there’s another one opening opposite the mini market.

“The locals don’t use this shop, I used to have cigarettes, booze, used to have full on groceries, used to have it packed out.

"Slowly everything goes out of date and you can’t afford to buy that stock back in.”

Criticising the decision, Mr Singh accused the council of wanting to see “empty shops” rather than “thriving businesses.”

He added: "I'm pumping my own money into this, I've tried everything I can to survive – I have a couple of months.

"The council would rather see an empty shop than to see something thriving, there’s nothing this end of town that’s a takeaway – there’s a couple but that’s it."

Before the plans were formally refused, a document recommending refusal said the council's Environmental Health Officer had concerns regarding the impact on amenities to those nearby.

Concluding, the document said: "Regard has been given to the applicants' circumstances and the viability of the current shop, and the need to consider alternative uses, however these are not considered to outweigh the concerns raised and on balance, it is considered that planning permission should be refused."

Mr Singh said he would be appealing against the refusal but said unless it was overturned, his business would have to permanently close within months.