Chips are posted through neighbour's letterbox as row erupts

Chips are posted through neighbour’s letterbox as row erupts over Dorset takeaway which opened without permission

  • AJ’s Pizza, based on Weston Road on Portland, opened its doors in March 2022
  • Dorset Council discovered that the business had breached planning regulations
  • It opened as a takeaway without their approval from the council
  • Retrospective planning application was rejected in September 2022

A row has broken out over a takeaway which has opened without permission – with chips being posted through a resident’s letterbox in protest.

AJ’s Pizza, based on Weston Road on Portland, opened its doors in March 2022 after taking on the former premises of L and O’s Bistro.

Despite some rave reviews from residents, Dorset Council discovered that the business had breached planning regulations and opened as a takeaway without their approval.

A retrospective planning application, which sought for continued use as a takeaway and also keep an illuminated sign, was later rejected in September 2022 following a raft of objections.

AJ’s Pizza, based on Weston Road on Portland , opened its doors in March 2022 after taking on the former premises of L and O’s Bistro. Despite some rave reviews from residents, Dorset Council discovered that the business had breached planning regulations and opened as a takeaway without their approval

Comments complained about the smell and noise from the takeaway, as well as the light pollution of the sign and parking issues. 

AJ’s Pizza, which is still operating, says they are working with Dorset Council to appeal against the rejected planning application and are also addressing residents’ concerns about their business.

Tensions appeared to hit a boiling point on November 27, when it was reported that a resident had chips posted through their letterbox.

Matt Ryan, the town clerk at Portland Town Council, raised the issue in his clerk’s report at a recent full council meeting, in which he wrote: ‘On November 27, a resident reported that a portion of chips had been put through their letterbox in Weston.’

It is understood that the chips being posted through the letterbox was in relation to the ongoing dispute between residents and the takeaway, and it is not known which address was targeted. 

Speaking to residents in the area, there was a mixture of views about AJ’s Pizza, with some unhappy with the smell and others indifferent.

One resident told us that they had no problems with the takeaway and commented their food was ‘quite good’.

One resident, who wrote to Dorset Council about her concerns, said the ambient noise of the takeaway was ‘quite loud’ at night and its smell had improved, but she was unimpressed with the takeaway suddenly opening on her street. 

She said: ‘It’s the fact that they went ahead and just did it. It just makes a mockery of the whole system. It’s out of context for the area and it’s supposed to be a conservation area.’

Another resident wrote to Dorset Council: ‘The change of use from restaurant to takeaway has not been authorised but trading continues. 

‘The extractor unit causes low-frequency noise pollution, the flue generates food odours of cooking fat, there is an increase in littering, noise from patrons both on foot and in vehicles and delivery drivers.’

An officer report by Dorset Council confirmed that the application received 14 supportive comments about its staff, food and service, but it was noted those comments were from people who lived away from the Weston Road area and ‘so it does not have any impact on their own residential amenity.’ 

The report added that noise and odours from AJ’s Pizza needed to be mitigated and ‘comments received from local residents say that they were never aware of noise or odours when it was operating as a bistro’.

It was also noted that Dorset Council had approved the conversion and change of use from a restaurant at ground floor level and accommodation above to two new dwellings in March 2021, but nothing had come into fruition. 

Its owner, Cengiz Zorel, has sought to appeal against the rejected application and insisted that his business was allowed to offer deliveries and serve as a takeaway. 

He added that he was aware of residents’ concerns about his takeaway and has shut the business early at 10am to keep them happy.

He said: ‘I don’t really know why they’ve done a change of use from the restaurant to have it as just a takeaway, because it’s already got a restaurant licence. 

All we wanted to do was to apply for the delivery licence so we can do delivery. It’s been a restaurant for more than 20 years with a bistro before us and there were no such problems.’

A spokeswoman for Dorset Council said they were aware of issues surrounding the takeaway, including the allegations of anti-social behaviour. The local authority is also awaiting a revised planning application from the business.

A statement reads: ‘Permission for a change of use for the property to residential was granted under the application WP/20/00709/FUL. 

‘There is no obligation to use the permission granted and the property can continue as its existing lawful use. Applications were made under P/ADV/2022/01464 [display of sign] & P/FUL/2022/01463 [change of use to a takeaway and retention of flue] both submitted on the 8/3/22 and refused on 2/9/22

‘There was an eight-week period to appeal the refusal for the sign which has now lapsed. The six-month deadline to appeal our decision for P/FUL/2022/01463 ends in March 2023 and we understand that an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate is being prepared.

‘We have been made aware of allegations of ASB by a member of the public however this is a police matter. We encouraged the member of the public to raise their concerns with the police.’

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