Southwold ‘will need a watertight case’ to fight Costa Coffee bid

PLANS by a national chain to open a new coffee shop in Southwold have been opposed by the town council amid claims there are already too many existing businesses offering food and drinks.

Southwold Town Council agreed to fight the proposal by Costa Coffee, fearing it might pose a potential threat to the character of the High Street and affect 20 other caf�s and restaurants in the town centre.

But some councillors questioned whether the planning objection was 'watertight' enough to be backed by Waveney District Council which will make the final decision.

The move came after the Southwold and Reydon Society and the Southwold Chamber of Trade launched a joint campaign last week to fight the coffee chain's application to open at 70, High Street – formerly Fanny & Franks' clothes shop.

Speaking at the annual town council meeting on Monday, Simon Tobin said: 'There are reasons why we think it should be opposed. There are already 20 outlets that sell food and drink in Southwold. These will be threatened if a national chain store comes in.

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'The committee was horrified by the way their application was presented. As well as the application itself there was an attachment outlining the cases they had won in other towns across the country.

'It is the committee's wish to refuse this application on the grounds of over development, as it would affect the other 20 outlets that sell coffee in the town.'

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Teresa Baggott raised concerns as to whether the town council's recommendation was sufficiently robust.

She said: 'We want to refuse it for the people but I am not sure it is going to be enough to get it through.'

Meanwhile, the mayor and deputy mayor of Southwold both agreed that they would need strong planning reasons to recommend it for refusal.

The mayor of Southwold, Michael Ladd, said: 'We need to have fairly tight planning reasons to refuse this, perhaps focusing on the character of the high street.'

Deputy mayor of Southwold, John Windell added: 'We do have a problem. This application is telling us not to even bother putting a refusal in. The town feels that we have to fight this and find a watertight reason to refuse this.'

Last week, the Southwold and Reydon Society and chamber of trade voiced concerns that Costa Coffee's plans posed 'a very real threat to the unique character of Southwold' and the future of its independent traders.

In a joint letter to their members and local councils, they stated: 'The National Planning Policy Framework which local authorities must follow says any new development or change of use should 'reflect the individuality of town centres and improve diversity and vitality'... The arrival of a Costa Coffee shop would have completely the opposite effect.'

Costa Coffee has 1,300 outlets in the UK. It is run by Whitbread, which also owns budget-hotel chain Premier Inn and restaurants Beefeater Grill, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns.

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