A COUPLE who bought a property in the hope of opening a "healthy" takeaway in Darlington have been given the go-ahead – despite objections.

Darlington Borough Council planners had recommended the application to convert a former estate agency into a takeaway should be rejected.

However, councillors voted in favour of the scheme for Darlington's North Road after being convinced that measures would be taken to reduce noise and smells from the premises.

Mohamed Irshad Shafee wants to open the Sri Lankan takeaway, which he says will offer "healthy" options, including salads.

A decision had been due to be made last month, but was deferred to July to allow further enquiries to be made about how community concerns could be addressed.

The meeting of the council's planning committee heard the applicant had agreed to install a silencer to halve the amount of noise made by his extraction fans.

Mr Shafee, who lives above the premises, said: "It means everything to us. We bought the property in August with the intention of opening as a healthy takeaway.

"It means everything to us to get it granted."

Planning agent Keith McClure, of Myplansdrawn, said: "They are Sri Lankan and they are looking to introduce Sri Lankan food to Darlington. It's not another hot food kebab takeaway. That was never the intention."

Thirteen objections had been made, addressing concerns including parking, road safety, the the volume of fast food outlets in the area, and noise levels.

A neighbour, who is disabled, also attended the meeting to express her concern about the impact on parking and her ability to access her home.

Councillor Anne-Marie Curry spoke on her behalf, as well as elderly residents living in a housing scheme behind North Road.

She said: "I feel sorry for the applicant. It's a wonderful idea but I feel it's in the wrong place."

She added concerns about the volume of similar outlets in the vicinity. She said: "There are 36 takeaways in a one mile radius of that property.

Meanwhile, 15 letters were sent in support, saying it would increase the number of healthy choices at fast food takeaways and support local business.

Councillor Nick Wallis said a letter from environmental health had convinced him that the noise created by the scheme was within an acceptable limit.

He added: "That really just leaves the 'comings and goings' argument.

"Given other uses in the area, particularly given the shop next door, I think the committee would be on shaky ground to refuse."

The applicant has agreed to close the takeaway at 9pm from Monday to Saturday, and remain shut on Sundays and on bank holidays.

Permission was granted by six votes to four.

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