Blackburn Cafe’s new healthy menu to open for takeout


The owner of a cafe whose offer to continue operating as a hot takeaway was rejected by planners due to school closures has come up with a healthy new menu. Ali Zulfqar has also changed his proposed opening hours in the hope of finally securing planning permission for the ‘take away’ service to remain at his restaurant Raja in Whalley Banks, Blackburn.

It had been allowed to offer a take-out service during the coronavirus pandemic. The restaurant continued to do so after the general permission for cafes to provide take-out service due to lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions was revoked in March.

After being contacted by Blackburn with enforcement officers from Darwen Borough Council, Raja landlord Mr Zulfqar asked the planning permission authority to continue his now unauthorized takeaway business from 11am to midnight Monday to Sunday. But officials denied the request earlier this month.

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The decision notice states: “The proposal will result in an over-concentration of hot takeaways within a reasonable walking distance of St. Wilfrid’s School, Tauheedul Boys’ School and St Barnabus and St Paul’s School, defined by an exclusion zone of 400 meters, thus demonstrating harm to public health.

A report by planning officer Nick Blackledge states: “The area is generally saturated with hot takeaways and hybrid uses, particularly along Whalley Banks and Bank Top.

A document in support of Mr Zulfqar’s new request says: ‘The revised request differs from the previous one in that take-out hours will not start until after 5pm and a healthy menu will be introduced. Only the 5pm opening means it will largely avoid school hours.

“Use of the cafe/restaurant will start at 8am and continue until 11.59pm. The applicant will manage the business so that they have direct control.

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