Shisha café materially different from lawful use as a café

In upholding an enforcement notice requiring a shisha café in north London to cease, an inspector decided that it was materially different from the lawful use of the premises as a café.

Shisha cafes were premises where patrons shared a shisha in which sometimes scented tobacco was burnt using coal, passed through an ornate water vessel and inhaled through a pipe or hookah. The cafes were generally open until late at night, the inspector stated, and in his opinion it was a sui generis use and not ancillary to the lawful use of the premises as a café. Nor in his view did the scale of the operation matter, with the shisha area extending to only 18m2. This was not insignificant compared with the total area of 50m2.

Planning permission was not justified, with an open timber structure at the rear used for smoking the pipes and having a rudimentary appearance. A block of flats bordered the site and the smoking activities would generate noise and disturbance which would be unacceptable to existing residents, the 2007 smoking ban preventing any such activities within the building.

Inspector: John Whalley; Written representations

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