A PETITION to save a restaurant’s illuminated palm trees has attracted over 1,200 signatures as planning officials look set to remove them.
Kirklees Council has demanded that the Shama Restaurant at White Lee remove the three highly-visible trees which are situated in the car park.
Owner of the family-run restaurant on Leeds Road, Billy Mohammad, installed the trees and lights just over a year ago to brighten up the area and to combat fly-tippers who had dumped large amounts of waste in the car park.
He was informed by planning officers that he required permission for the trees and so applied retrospectively – only to have it turned down.
Mr Mohammad has also been unsuccessful in an appeal against the decision, meaning he must remove the trees before February 28.
But customers have rallied around the Shama and a petition set up by one local has attracted over 1,200 signatures asking for the council to let the trees stay.
Mr Mohammad admitted he did not realise he needed planning permission originally, but criticised the council for their hard-line stance.
He said: “I hold my hands up, I didn’t apply for permission because I was not aware that I needed it. I only found out when the planning officer turned up and told us.
“The application and appeal have both been unsuccessful and it feels a bit like they are slapping our hands because we didn’t do it right the first time around.”
Kirklees’ planning committee rejected the application from Mr Mohammad as they deemed the trees to be “harmful to the character and appearance of the surrounding area and street scene.”
The business then lodged a formal appeal which the Planning Inspectorate dismissed in November.
Mr Mohammad said that he had been taken aback by the level of support from the local community since the petition was set up online.
“It is amazing to see this many signatures,” he said.
“We put the trees up because of the fly-tipping that was going on in the car park.
“We had tyres, bags of rubbish, even a mattress dumped there and it was a nightmare to get rid of.
“So we thought we would do something a bit different with the palm trees and to tackle the problem but at the same time to drum up a bit of business and they certainly got people talking.
“We thought the council would be behind us for running a successful business.”
The petition was set up by customer Richard Spreadbury, who is keen to see the trees remain.
He said: “Driving up and down the road every day they bring a smile to my face.
“They are interesting. But the council don’t see it this way.
“Surely the council have got bigger things to be dealing with than these palm trees.”
A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “The Inspector supported this council’s concerns at the harmful appearance of the features and their effect on the predominantly residential character of the surrounding area.
“Please note that a petition cannot reverse a decided planning application or an appeal decision.”
People can access the online petition at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-sharma-s-palm-trees.