Disappointed traders and councillors have raised questions about why a café is being built where their public toilets used to be.
Birstall’s Chamber of Trade sent Kirklees Council a letter last week expressing their dismay after hearing rumours about the Market Street plot becoming a restaurant café.
Councillors are also angered that – up until an application validated on October 8 – no attempt to submit change of use plans had been made. Outline permission was given for a mixed use retail and residential unit at the site in January.
Kirklees Council had disposed of the property and it is understood the purchaser chose to start work without securing planning permission. He has now been advised to stop work while a decision is made over his application.
Chamber of Trade chairwoman Anne Thompson said: “It was bad enough losing the toilets but we managed to take some comfort that it had been given permission for much needed retail space.
“There are four other cafés in close proximity. What we are really concerned about is the lack of diversity. We’re getting comments like, ‘If this carries on there’s going to be no reason to come into Birstall’.
“It’s a very difficult one because you don’t want to seem unwelcoming but it’s something really we could’ve done without.”
A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “We understand the purchaser has chosen to start work to change the use of the former public toilets to a restaurant café.
“An application for planning permission has been submitted for this use but is currently on hold pending the receipt of further information from the applicant. The applicant has been advised to stop work pending a decision on the application. Officers are currently monitoring the situation.”