A PLAN to create a large scale wedding venue and restaurant able to cater for up to 1,000 people at a time has been approved.

The decision came despite officers recommending Stockton Borough Council’s planning committee reject the application to create the £100,000 venue in an empty building on Skinner Street.

The officers argued it was not close enough to the town centre and so failed to comply with the council’s efforts to improve the vitality of the centre of town.

Developer Bilal Majeed, 25, pleaded for the councillors to ignore their officers’ advice. He explained that, although the banqueting suite would be open to anyone, it was expected a lot of people in the Asian community to use it.

Many Asians used to hold major events in the Coatham Bowl, in Redcar, which has closed, which had resulted in people travelling as far away as South Shields, Houghton-le-Spring and even Manchester to hold major family events which can attract many hundreds of people from across the north.

Speaking at the meeting at Stockton Central Library on Wednesday, Mr Majeed stressed the venue would be for all sections of the community, but said: “The Asian community is the primary target and the community can be conservative. Also, these are family events with a lot children there, so somewhere a little bit secluded can be a better place. The town centre where there are lots pubs and casinos and so on wouldn’t always be the best place when there’s a lot of people leaving a family event, with children and older people of whatever community.

“At present this business is leaving Teesside. We would employ locally and source the food from local businesses and all the money being spent, that now goes elsewhere, would come into Stockton.”

Mr Majeed explained the restaurant would do fusion or mixed culture food.

Councillor Steve Walmsley, Thornaby Independent, said: “We find ourselves in the situation sometimes where we’re trying to tell businesspeople where to spend their own money. They know where they want their business. I can understand the cultural reasons why they might want not to be on the High Street and it would be good to have a high standard restaurant in town.”

Councillor Ken Lupton, Conservative and former council leader, said: “We have an empty property here that could be put to use and I believe this is really Stockton town centre anyway.”

The business, which could open this year, would create ten full time jobs and five part-time jobs. It will be open from 5pm to 11pm seven days-a-week.