A GASTROPUB owner is calling for planning laws to be relaxed so he can save his business.

Morteza Zabhi and his wife Julie bought the Crown and Thistle pub in Roman Road, Hoddlesden in 2007 and spent more than £200,000 renovating the property and creating a restaurant.

Now they are considering selling the popular pub, because despite numerous attempts to gain planning permission to create a car park which caters for the 100-seat restaurant, the couple have been given the red light.

Mr Zabhi, 56, said the problem is losing him business.

He said::”We have a car park across the road, but it can only hold around 15 cars.

“People drive past and see a full car park and assume we are full so they don’t come in.

“We are losing business because of this.”

The couple, who have been married for 17 years, bought the five acres of land next to the pub after they finished renovating in 2009.

They began the process of creating a second car park, but were soon stopped by the council, who informed them it was green belt land.

The couple have put in thee applications to build on the land since 2009, all of which have been refused, and are now in the process of putting the property up for sale.

The dad-of-six said: “We can’t afford to keep doing it, it cost £300 per application plus all the extra fees on top.

“This was supposed to keep us occupied in our retirement but instead we’re working seven day weeks because we can't afford a full staff.

“We would make more money if we gave up and sold it as a house.”

Cllr Phil Riley, borough regeneration boss, said: “Mr Zabhi created an unauthorised car parking area on land which is designated green belt.

“As a result subsequent planning applications were refused and dismissed at appeal by an independent government appointed Planning Inspector, due to the impact on the openness and character of the area.

“Mr Zabhi is welcome to submit a formal pre-application enquiry in which the council can discuss the options and whether the issue relating to car parking can be resolved.”

Cllr Julie Slater of East Rural Ward, said: “It would be a shame to see them go, it really is a lovely pub, and it is a lot of people’s local.

“The only way forward from here is to put in a pre planning application, and see what the council would allow them to build.

“If the council could just give them advice without charging them, maybe we could resolve the issue.”