Hartlepool businessman’s anger over planning ‘confusion’

DELI: John Dobson of Deli Lite
DELI: John Dobson of Deli Lite

A BUSINESSMAN has spoken of his frustration after being told he needs planning permission for his catering unit – despite claims he was told he didn’t need it originally.

Hartlepool man John Dobson runs Deli Lite, which used to be based on the parade of shops in Belle Vue Way opposite B&Q, before he moved onto the former Rington’s site in Oxford Road.

The 30-year-old insists he visited planning and licensing officers at Hartlepool Borough Council before he started trading a year ago to check whether he needed permission to start operating from his catering truck in the yard next to the former Rington’s building, which he also owns.

He claims he was told at the meeting that because the vehicle was on wheels and that there was gates on the yard, that he wouldn’t need planning permission. But in the past few weeks he has been informed that he does.

In response, Hartlepool Borough Council says there are ongoing discussions to reach a “satisfactory outcome” with Mr Dobson, who says he has invested £60,000 in the business, including renovating the Rington’s building.

Mr Dobson, who lives in the Rossmere area of town, said: “I went to see the council to see what I can and can’t do and after those meetings as far as I was concerned I had permission to do this.

“But I then recently had a visit from a planning officer who said they weren’t happy with what I was doing and that I would need to apply for planning permission.

“This is my livelihood and I just worry about what may happen if it doesn’t work out as I will then have to look for alternative work and lose the thousands of pounds that I have invested.

“I just feel so frustrated and have had sleepless nights waiting for the outcome.

“I keep questioning myself how I have managed to find myself in this position but I did all I could to make sure I was doing the right thing,” added Mr Dobson, who has a five-year-old son called William.

The planning process could take between six to eight weeks and Mr Dobson said it would cost him an additional £400, after which he hopes he will be successful and able to carry on trading from the site.

A council spokesman said: “The council is in ongoing discussions with Mr Dobson to try and reach a satisfactory outcome regarding the issue of planning permission for the catering trailer at his Oxford Road premises.”

The yard area next door to the former Rington’s building, where Deli Lite operates from, is classed as a private car park.