A COUNCILLOR has welcom- ed the withdrawal of a cont-roversial plan to open a shisha cafe on an industrial estate.

Usman Ali Perwez asked for planning permission for the venture, at Bullhorn, on the Whalley Range Business Park, in Boyle Street, Blackburn, in March this year.

He asked the council to approve a change of use for the premises from a business to a ‘shisha lounge’, with facilities to sell refreshments.

The application also sought permission for a smoking shelter on the car park of the industrial estate.

Now, Mr Perwez has withdrawn his application before planning officials, or coun-cillors made a decision on whether to approve it.

In March, Coun Shaukhat Hussain, who represents Bast- well, expressed concern at the proposal after calling for the borough to seek more powers to crack down on unscrupulous shisha cafes.

Council leaders wrote to the government asking for a shisha cafe licensing system to be introduced.

They are seeking the pow-ers after shisha cafes were found to be operating under-ground in the town, and under- age children were found to be smoking shisha.

Coun Shaukhat Hussain said: “I am pleased this appl-ication has been withdrawn.

“I am concerned about shisha cafes. Evidence shows that shisha has an impact on health. If people want to smoke that’s fair enough, but it’s cert ainly not something I would encourage.

“If the application met coun- cil planning guidelines, and the applicant followed the law, there was no reason why it would not have been all-owed.

“There was concern about this application.

“I know that businesses and residents nearby will be pleased that Mr Perwez has withdrawn it.”

Mr Perwez’s agent Khalid Khan said the application had been withdrawn because he could not meet the council’s parking requirements for the cafe.

He added: “He is now look-ing for premises somewhere else.”