A CHANGE in the law means an Indian restaurant can open in a terraced house in Bromley Cross without needing planning permission – next door to an elderly couple’s bedroom.

Pensioners Roy and Margaret Greenhalgh told councillors on Wednesday that they now face customers outside their home late at night when the Shimla Indian Restaurant opens in 510 Darwen Road.

The restaurant will have enough room for 30 customers— including a 20-space dining room on the first floor right next to the Greenhalghs’ bedroom.

The situation emerged during a hearing at Bolton Town Hall, where the owners of the new diner applying for a licence to sell alcohol.

Councillors rejected their bid because they thought it would lead to an increase in public nuisance and noise — but the restaurant will still be able to open without a licence, and work to refurbish the former shop and offices is underway.

Bromley Cross councillor David Greenhalgh spoke out against the alcohol licence in the town hall on behalf the couple, who are no relation.

He said: “The law is an ass on this. This is the only time this whole venue is able to be discussed.

“It is an insult to democracy that consultation has not happened and that we have a position where planning permission has just been automatically granted.

“This is no judgement on the owners but I believe it is inevitable that there will be public nuisance – there is a potential of 40 people upstairs adjacent to a residential house, with drinking and chatting going on.”

He added: “You could have as many as 70 or 80 people on a late Saturday evening, with a couple that are trying to mind their own business. The effects on them are inevitable.

“This licensing application is the only thing the council can do to monitor this situation.”

A change in the law from May 2013 by the government means a shop is allowed to change into a restaurant for two years without having to tell the local authority about the plans.

After two years, which runs out on September 12 2016, the owners of Shimla Indian Restaurant will have to apply for planning permission to stay open as an eatery.

Haruk Mia spoke up for the application at the licensing meeting, and said he and his brother Mohammed, who owns the business, would appeal the decision through the courts — and the restaurant will still open as planned.

He said: “There’s been significant investment in the business and we will deal with all the concerns of residents.

“I just feel that there’s a lot of passion that is not according with statue and regulation.”

Mr and Mrs Greenhalgh did not want to comment after the meeting.