Aklu Plaza submits plans to convert third floor into banqueting suite

Aklu Plaza in Market Place

Aklu Plaza in Market Place - Credit: Daniel Gayne

Plans have been submitted to convert the third floor of Romford’s new shopping centre into a banqueting suite. 

Aklu Plaza, based in the former Debenhams site in Market Place, has submitted a change of use application to Havering Council. 

It is seeking permission to change the top floor into a multi-function events venue and community facility, available to organisers of birthdays, corporate events, charity dinners, weddings and other community events. 

The proposed facility will have a maximum capacity of 500 people, although according to the design and access statement, full capacity is not anticipated to occur regularly. 

A separate entrance would provide access to the third floor alone. 

Booking terms and conditions would include strict adherence to the closing time of 10pm and a ban on anti-social behaviour. 

The remaining floors would continue to be used for retail, with its flagship Home Superstore selling world food and household essentials on the ground floor and up to 25 retail outlets and a food court on the first floor. 

The new Aklu Plaza shopping mall in the former Debenhams are running a fish mela.Picture by Ellie H

Home Superstore on the ground floor sells world food and household essentials. - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

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The second floor will stock homeware, as well as offering a children’s play area and a prayer room.  

Only the ground floor has been opened so far. 

“We’ve just done a soft opening without doing too much advertising, just to get the feel of things and train the staff,” said store owner Aklu Miah. 

He said the first and second floor had been hit by delays but he hopes they would be open by the end of March. 

Aklu Miah outside the former Romford Debenhams

Aklu Miah outside the former Romford Debenhams - Credit: Michael Cox

Aklu added that he wanted to open the banqueting suite as soon as possible after getting permission. 

The proposals are“fairly straightforward”, he said, but added: “If it is refused then I will rethink what I can do with it."

The shopping centre was subject to far-right protests when it first opened its ground floor for a seven-day fish mela in November and store managers reported at the time that staff members had been racially abused and spat at. 

During the same period, Aklu Plaza was one of five businesses which received an anti-social behaviour warning letter from Havering Council ordering them to remove abandoned shopping trolleys. 

Aklu Plaza project manager Noor Uddin described the letter at the time as “heavy-handed”. 

View the plans using reference P0019.22