Curry bosses cry ‘fhal’ over plans

Itihaas Restaurant, Dalkeith
Itihaas Restaurant, Dalkeith

Curry wars are hotting up in Dalkeith, where rival businesses are at loggerheads over a shop front planning application.

Itihaas restaurant sits opposite the Shanti takeaway in Eskbank Road. Both specialize in Bangladeshi cuisine.

When Itihaas manager Matin Khan had his shop front and window surrounds painted in 2011, he claims he was not aware that planning permission was needed.

A retrospective bid for consent has now been lodged with Midlothian Council, but Shanti boss Sharof Uddin has objected.

He said: “I was shocked when I discovered that he [Mr Khan] did not have permission. He has been running his restaurant for five years so how can say he did not know it was required?

“Mr Khan, his wife and his manager were among the many objectors who opposed my own plans, and so business is business.

“I’m trying to offer good service and quality food – customers will choose where they want to go.”

However, Mr Khan denies objecting to Mr Uddin’s plans for Shanti – the Bengali word for peace.

He counterclaims that Mr Uddin and his associates are behind some of the objections to his bid: “Most [objections] have come from across the road, and I know this because I know the names of his [Mr Uddin’s] staff and partners.

“All the addresses belong to them, and some don’t even live in Dalkeith. They say that my shop front looks out of place but it doesn’t. The colours are very subtle. People have been coming in to praise me and say how nice it looks.

“I have a very loyal clientele – we are a different league of restaurant.”

Mr Uddin strenuously denies that any of the other 18 objectorsare in any way connected to his business.

In summer 2009 Edinburgh-based businessman Mr Uddin applied for planning permission to convert vacant Post Office Counters premises on Eskbank Road into a 42-seat restaurant with an additional 20 “seasonal” seats outside.

Refused, the application had been fiercely resisted by some residents and nearby businesses, with many letters of objection – including a 50-name petition – received by Midlothian Council’s planning department.

Objectors claimed there was already enough restaurant provision for the town, and also cited potential traffic and parking problems.

In August last year Mr Uddin submitted an amended application for a hot food takeaway, and consent was granted.

However, in May this year the council refused his retrospective bid for slate cladding on the front of his building, deeming that it was “out of keeping” with the existing building and surrounding area.

Appealing the decision, Mr Uddin has requested that the Local Review Body (LRB) consider a ‘Notice of Review’ for the application, which is due to be considered on Tuesday.

In addition to Itihaas, Dalkeith has the Kebab Mahal Indian takeaway and the Bombay Lounge restaurant, both situated just a few minutes’ walk along the High Street.

Kebab Mahal owner Mohammed Rashid also submitted a written objection to the council over Mr Uddin’s 2009 application.