AN Indian restaurant has had its plans for a licence to sell alcohol put on ice following a paperwork problem.

Spice Island, in Barnard Castle, which is already allowed to serve alcohol, applied for a new permit to increase diners’ drinking time and include a planned extension to the business.

But after the restaurant’s bosses revealed they planned to amend proposals for a second floor bar and lounge area, council chiefs said they had no choice but to put the process on hold.

Councillor Carole Hampson, chairman of Durham County Council’s statutory licensing sub-committee, said: “I’m going to adjourn this meeting until the relevant paperwork is available and Environmental Health have a chance to comment on the submitted plans.”

Under the licence application, which was submitted by Shuhel Ahmed, permission was sought to open and sell alcohol from 7am to midnight. If accepted, this would have applied every day of the year except Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, which sought to add a two-hour extension.

Concerns about the proposals were raised ahead of Tuesday morning’s meeting by the county council’s Environment, Health and Consumer Protection (EHCP) department over access to the Market Place restaurant by a planned external staircase.

It was feared this would lead to ‘disruptive noise’ for neighbours and recommended limiting access.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Ahmed attempted to address this, saying the external staircase was intended to be used as a fire exit.

Mark Anslow, of the council’s EHCP department, said such use would not be permitted under current building regulations.