A NEW three-storey restaurant in the centre of Oldham has been approved – despite bosses saying it would not be legally allowed to operate its "shisha smoking balconies".

Riaz Ahmed had applied to the council to construct the new building on King Street in the town centre, on land which previously housed an office building.

His first application was refused because planning chiefs had argued that the development would be "visually intrusive" and "jarred" with the aesthetic of the surrounding streets.

However a revised application, which sees the amended scheme reduced in height to match the eaves and ridge height of the original building that occupied the site, has been approved.

The new building will be constructed with red brick, with slate roofs which case officer Matthew Taylor said ‘clearly reflect’ the character and appearance of the neighbouring properties.

It is proposed that the new building would have a mixed use as a venue where people could dine and smoke shisha, and it would be open from 9am to midnight every day of the week.

Under the plans, the ground floor and first and second floors would feature seating areas, with the top two floors also including a total of 14 balconies for shisha smoking.

However Mr Taylor states in his report that the proposed "smoking balconies" go against the national legal requirement that covered smoking areas should be 50 pc open.

“Whilst not a material planning consideration as it is regulated by separate legislation, it is noted that the building as designed would appear not to be legally capable of implementing its intended shisha bar use,” he adds.

A design and access statement submitted by the Howard and Seddon partnership, on behalf of Mr Ahmed, states that the new building would be "prestigious".

“The site has been sitting empty and this proposed concept hopes to rejuvenate the derelict site into an attractive, unique and exciting restaurant/ shisha bar experience,” their submission states.

“The proposed development is high quality, is architecturally charismatic, aesthetically pleasing and has been designed to meet the requirements of modern living as well as being sympathetic with the environment of the established commercial area.”

The main kitchen would be in the basement, as well as tables and seating areas.

The former office on the corner plot had been demolished after becoming structurally unsound and unsafe, and was taken down to ensure public safety, the council says.

Having been granted permission, the development must begin within three years, with the applicants having first submitted details of plans to deal with waste and fumes, and carried out an investigation into landfill gas.