A MICRO-pub owner says he is “devastated” after his planning appeal was rejected, forcing his new £60,000 business into the ground.
Father-of-two Hooman Raki (37) opened The Unit in Rawmarsh in December after ploughing his life savings into converting a former Dale Road garage.
His retrospective change of use and planning application was turned down in May by Rotherham’s planning board, which considered six objections from nearby residents as well as a petition signed by 84 people in support.
Mr Raki’s appeal was dismissed on September 24 by the Planning Inspectorate - but the frustrated business owner says he has still not been given any information about closing.
“I won’t shut until somebody from Rotherham Council comes in and says you need to shut on this date,” said Mr Raki.
“It’s been a waiting game for the last year, so this is no different.
“My understanding is they are probably going to shut the place down. It’s been a nightmare from day one.”
Mr Raki said he was “upset and devastated” to receive the inspectorate’s decision after initially having hope an independent person would pass the plans, which he believed Rotherham Council had not rejected on legitimate planning grounds.
“I was shocked at the decision,” he said.
“He (the inspector) came from Bristol and he was in my property for about three minutes \_ he didn’t look in any rooms. It felt like the decision had already been made before he even arrived.”
Mr Raki added: “Three local girls, all single mums, are out of a job now. I’m going to lose my £60,000 plus the £8,000 I spent on all these fees.”
Residents’ objections were mainly over noise, general disruption, anti-social behaviour and parking.
Mr Raki claimed The Unit could not be held responsible for all the complaints because it only opened for three days a week and closed at 10pm.
“I tried to speak to residents but they didn’t want to speak to me,” said Mr Raki, who said his dream had always been to open a pub.
“It’s been a complete nightmare from start to finish - I tried to do something good for myself, my family and the community.”
Mr Raki said the complainants would be “over the moon they had it go their way”, adding: “They are not even the property owners \_ they could move out tomorrow. I want them to think about the people who have lost their jobs.”
The publican said he felt “defeated and deflated” and the uncertainly around the business and constant scrutiny had affected his health.
Customers were “gutted” about the decision and had been coming in even more, taking pictures, he said, adding: “They don’t know if it’s the last picture they’re going to take in here.”
Mr Raki criticised the council for not informing him when he was granted his alcohol licence in August 2018 that he needed to also apply for a change of use.
During the council’s planning board meeting in May, Cllr Alan Atkin said he agreed there should be better communication between departments to “help small businessmen” \_ which Mr Raki said “doesn’t help me now”.