COUNCIL planners have recommended refusal of a Belbroughton restaurant owner's bid to boost capacity as part of efforts to recover from the Covid pandemic.

Owner of Five Spice restaurant, Sadiq Miah, has applied to extend the eaterie, which specialises in Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine, to help increase the number of diners that can be accommodated as concerns about coronavirus remain.

The application seeks permission for a single storey flat roof extension to be added to the restaurant, located off the A491 Stourbridge Road, to create a new rectangular dining room which would be attached by a glazed corridor link.

A report to Bromsgrove District Council's planning committee says the extension would enable more customers to be accommodated inside to help the business to get back to its pre-Covid position.

But planners have recommended refusal of increasing the size of the establishment - saying it would have a detrimental impact on the green belt and that only very special circumstances would lead to a plan being given approval.

Stourbridge News: Five Spice restaurant. Pic - Google Street ViewFive Spice restaurant. Pic - Google Street View

The report to the committee said: "The proposed extension would result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building and would also have a moderate impact to the openness of the green belt. The proposal would therefore result in inappropriate development within the green belt.

"Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the green belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances. No very special

circumstances exist or have been forward to outweigh the substantial harm to the green belt."

Mr Miah's application for planning permission states temporary marquees have been used during the pandemic "but these are not sustainable" and the proposed extension, which would be sited where the marquees have stood, would accommodate 34 diners inside and be "more visually attractive".

A disabled toilet would also be able to be added as part of the remodelling of the internal layout of the building and the design of the building would provide good ventilation, the application states.

Extending the premises would also result in extra staff being taken on, boosting numbers from 10-15 to 20 and possibly up to 25 on weekends and holidays.

The application adds: "The impact of Covid and the need for social distancing measures are likely to be long lasting. The increase in floor area would only maintain the number of covers the restaurant provided prior to Covid."

The report states the plan would bring some economic benefits to the business and other local businesses and that Belbroughton and Romsley councillor Karen May, leader of Bromsgrove District Council, has stated "additional seating is required to enable the business to be sustainable in the current economic environment and going forward".

But it says the proposed extension would increase the restaurant size by 64 sqm, making it 115 per cent bigger than its original footprint, and it concludes: "As the extension in this case would not be proportionate and the applicant has not fully demonstrated that the business would fail without the proposed extension, these economic benefits are given modest weight."

Cllr May has requested the application be considered by planning committee rather than determined under delegated powers.

It is now set to go before the committee on Monday November 1. The meeting, starting at 6pm, will be held at Parkside, Market Street, Bromsgrove.