TIME has been officially called on an ill-fated micropub after its owner lost a second planning appeal — plunging him £80,000 into debt.
Hooman Raki realised a dream when he opened his first micropub in Rawmarsh in December 2018 — but The Unit has been forced to close for good after a “nightmare” 12 months.
An upset Mr Raki, who came up against retrospective planning issues and complaints from residents, seethed: “I would advise anybody who wants to invest money into Rotherham not to bother.”
Mr Raki opened The Unit in a former car garage in Dale Road after being granted an alcohol licence by Rotherham Council — but was only informed he needed a change of use application after opening.
He was also ordered to apply for retrospective planning permission for his outdoor area, which the council ordered him to change in order to eliminate noise from patrons.
During the planning board meeting last year, Cllr Alan Atkin voiced his support for Mr Raki, agreeing that there should be better communication between the licensing and planning departments.
He said: “It’s not the first time we have had issues where somebody’s gone to licensing and said: ‘I want to open this pub’.
“Surely somebody in licensing should be saying: ‘Have you already got planning permission for this?’”
Cllr Atkin said people did not know everything and the council should be encouraging small businessmen.
The oversight has cost father-of-two Mr Raki around £80,000 following a year-long planning battle which saw objections made by residents over noise, anti-social behaviour and parking.
Mr Raki lost his appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in September — but launched a second appeal in respect of its enforcement notice, arguing the 28-day closure period was “unreasonably short” and a 12-month wind-down period was needed.
The businessman and wife Amanda were hopeful the second appeal would be successful.
But last week, the inspectorate upheld its decision and said no evidence had been submitted to prove a longer notice period was needed.
Mr Raki said he was “gutted” and “disappointed”. He said he had been left unable to open but still having to fork out £600 a month in rent.
Although The Unit was allowed to operate until the latest decision, Mr Raki closed the doors in November after being left in “limbo”.
He decided to take up the reins at The Star Lounge in High Street — just yards from his empty independent micropub — and work for the Trust Inns brewery group.
The pub — formerly the Star Inn — had been shut for around seven months before Mr Raki reopened it at the end of November.
“No-one has spent a penny on it in 28 years,” he said. “We had to refurbish it, which cost tens of thousands of pounds.
“The only reason I went for that place was to tie myself in with a brewery this time.”
Mr Raki was able to keep his three full-time staff members from The Unit in work by taking them over to The Star Lounge.