Petition over palm tree demand

Owner Billy Mohammad with Richard Spreadbury.

Owner Billy Mohammad with Richard Spreadbury.

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A restaurant owner says he could have a fight on his hands after planning chiefs ordered him to take down three light-up palm trees in his car park.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition against a Kirklees Council demand that Shama owner Billy Mohammad take down the “£10,000” feature outside his family-run Indian in Leeds Road, Heckmondwike.

The council has said a petition cannot reverse its decision.

Dad-of-four Mr Mohammad, 40, said: “Maybe we’ve got a fight on our hands. From our point of view we put them up to drum up a bit of business into the area and we really thought the council would back us.”

Mr Mohammad placed a retrospective planning application to the council for the plastic trees last year after learning he needed permission for them.

This was rejected because they were deemed “harmful to the character and appearance of the surrounding area and street scene,” according to the council’s decision notice.

The business then lodged a formal appeal, which the Planning Inspectorate dismissed last November.

Customer Richard Spreadbury, who took a shine to the eye-catching feature, started the petition to battle the decision.

He wrote: “These decorative trees bring a ray of sunshine into my boring daily commute from Spen into Leeds. Why do the council waste public money getting involved in such trivial matters?”

Mr Mohammad said he put up the mock trees as a way of sparking custom as he believes Heckmondwike needs more investment.

Other reasons included keeping the car park safely lit and to discourage fly-tipping.

He said: “As a restaurant you cannot allow your customers to pull into the car park and find tires and bin liners. It doesn’t give a good impression.”

A Kirklees Council spokeswoman 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