A BUSINESSMAN who spent £50,000 transforming a car garage into a micro pub criticised the council after being told he needed to apply for a retrospective change of use — which he fears could close the bar.
Hooman Raki said his dream had always been to run a pub but since opening The Unit in Rawmarsh in December the council had made his life a “nightmare”.
Mr Raki was granted his alcohol licence in August by the council and ploughed £50,000 into the former car garage.
He said: “A week or two before we opened the council phoned me up and said: ‘You need a change of use’.
“I said: ‘I took on a commercial property so what’s the change of use?’”
“They said I shouldn’t have been given my licence three months ago without a change of use. But they could have told me before I spent all that money refurbishing it.”
After being left in “limbo”, the council informed him this week his application would be considered by the planning board.
Mr Raki said planners also ordered him to change his outside area — which will also be dealt with by the board.
His wife Amanda (35) said the couple complied with every obstacle thrown at them but believed her husband was being discriminated against by the council because he is not white.
The couple said other bar owners were not subjected to the same scrutiny or red tape.
Mr Raki (37) said: “I had a big dream and big picture. But they’ve just killed me off.”
The Dale Road bar’s restricted licence means it must close by 10pm. Mr Raki said he was only opening Thursday to Sunday because of “all the hassle”.
“We’ve had vans parked up doing noise tests,” he added. “I’ve been told staff training wasn’t good enough and that my licence wasn’t displayed in the right position.”
Mr Raki added: “In Rawmarsh there are three other micro bars and about ten in Rotherham. None of these have their own smoking area, disabled access or private car park like we have and they have got a license up to the early hours.
“If you want to smoke in them you have to use a public footpath. We have got all of these issues, why? Because I am not white.
“I don’t even want to be in my own place now, the place I built and painted myself.”
Bar manager Cassie Draycott (30) said the team was reluctant to host family events like their Father Christmas grotto for fear of officials turning up.
She added: “How can you expect him to put any more money into this pub or open more days when the council do what they want to us?
“I’ve worked in pubs since I was 18 in Rotherham and I’ve never known anything like this. I’ve never had to do any training or close at 10pm.”
An RMBC spokeswoman said planning and licensing applications were determined on their own merits.
She added: “The council has to ensure that any premises granted a licence meets all mandatory conditions to sell alcohol.
“We will continue to work with Mr Raki to ensure all the conditions of the licence are being met.”