A shelter for people to smoke shisha pipes looks set to get temporary planning permission in Northampton while councillors work out if it is a good idea.
The application has been made by the owners of the restaurant at 54 Wellingborough Road for a covered wooden structure behind their premises where people can smoke sweetened shisha tobacco.
However, the shisha trend is not well established in Northampton, and so planning officers have advised councillors to grant only a temporary licence.
The officer’s report says: “It is noted that there are relatively few developments of the type proposed currently within the borough.
“Therefore in order to enable the local planning authority to monitor the impacts of the development and potentially revisit the above recommended conditions if needs be, it is recommended that a temporary consent is granted.
“This would run for a period of 18 months and would mean that, if there was an intention to continue the development beyond this period, a fresh planning application would be required.”
Concerns have been raised by the council’s environmental health department about noise, with planners recommending that no music is played through speakers in the shelter and only during set hours.
Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle), who referred the application, also raised worries about the impacts on health.
But the planning officer said it was not for the council to prevent customers partaking in unhealthy activities. He said: “It should be recognised that planning policies relating to health matters focus on the provision of opportunities to undertake a healthier lifestyle.
“Planning policies at neither national nor local level are structured in such a way so as to resist a development that may be used for an activity that is not necessarily healthy, but is legal.”