Planners bend to palm tree power

A RESTAURANT’S controversial ‘palm trees’ appear to have been saved from the chop.

The trio of illuminated plastic trees in the car park of the Shama Restaurant at White Lee became the subject of a row after Kirklees officials told owner Billy Mohammad he needed to obtain planning permission for them.

Mr Mohammad installed the highly-visible trees and lights just over a year ago to brighten up the area and to combat fly-tippers who had dumped large volumes of waste in the car park.

He was informed by planning officers that he needed to apply for retrospective permission – only to have it turned down.

A formal appeal to the Planning Inspectorate was also dismissed in November.

But customers and locals rallied around the Shama and a petition set up by one client attracted more than 1,500 signatures asking for the council to let the trees stay.

This week Mr Mohammad received a letter from Kirklees saying that they won’t be taking enforcement action – for now.

“It’s a long, hefty letter, but it appears to say that they don’t see taking down the trees as a priority,” said Mr Mohammad.

“There would be a lot of costs involved with removing them and I’m grateful that they’ve made a sensible decision.”

Kirklees’ planning committee rejected the initial application from Mr Mohammad as they deemed the trees to be “harmful to the character and appearance of the surrounding area and and street scene.”

Customer Richard Spreadbury set up the petition, and Mr Mohammad added: “Hats off to Richard for all his hard work.”

A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “We have advised the restaurant that there are no immediate plans to take enforcement action to remove the trees.

“However, we reserve the right to take such action if members of the public make further complaint against them.”

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