A BUSINESSMAN who describes himself as ’a product of Thornton Heath’ having lived here his whole life is applying to open a takeaway restaurant in the old Doris the Florist shop next to the station serving up Meze dishes.

Shafiq Pereira, 30, says he has always wanted ‘one day to contribute and give back to my community’ and aims to employ 50 per cent of his staff from the local homeless community at the proposed eatery.

Mr Pereira, who is a a charity volunteer at Thornton Heath Islamic Centre says the proposed takeaway restaurant will offer up an alternative grill cuisine to the area.

He says he has been tempted, like his friends to move elsewhere in Croydon, but instead has chosen to stay and a provide a ‘stepping stone’ to rough sleepers and make a positive impact on the local community.

Mr Pereira, is applying for change of use for the premises at 36 Brigstock Road, and the plans would include alterations to the shop front, internal configuration and installation of ventilation and extraction system.

 Services to the customers will be at the front by the counter. A floating bar with seats will be located at the front as well for the customer waiting to be served.

The application includes a new and fully glazed screen  fitted to replace the current front glass doors. There will be new signage to display the restaurant’s name and logo.

In a letter  presented as part of the planning application, he says: “I frequently use Thornton Heath train station for my travels and have witnessed the number of rough sleepers at the station increase year on year. Alcohol dependency has been on the rise significantly and this is evident within the local community and many of my childhood friends have in fact moved out of Thornton Heath and now live in Purley, Kenley etc.

“ I too have been tempted to move out, however I have fought the temptation and want to put an effort into reversing the cause of all the above by getting to the root cause of it all. I feel that sometimes someone just needs a steppingstone, a bit of support, when they are going through a difficult phase.

“If I am able to set up a shop next to the train station, I would be able to provide this opportunity to them. My plan is to set up a “Become Hireable” programme. I plan to employ 50 per cent of my staff at any given time from the local homeless community. I am in early talks with the Salvation Army charity and a few other charities who advised that they would be happy to put forward candidates to myself. This will provide individuals a steady regular income…..

“This will positively impact the local residence perception of their local community.”