A call has been made to protect Southwold’s “unique character” as groups joined forces to oppose plans by a national chain to open a new coffee shop in the town.

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The Southwold and Reydon Society and the Southwold Chamber of Trade vowed to fight proposals by Costa Coffee to open a new branch at 70, High Street – formerly Fanny & Franks’ clothes shop.

In a joint letter sent to their members and local councils, the two organisations said the national chain posed “a very real threat to the unique character of Southwold” and the future of its independent traders.

Their view has been backed by the mayor of Southwold who said the town council would not be “bullied” into backing the plans.

After long-standing rumours that Costa Coffee was looking to open in Southwold, the company has now applied to Waveney District Council for “a change of use” to allow customers to eat on the premises.

In the joint letter, Guy Mitchell, chairman of the chamber of trade, and Michael Rowan-Robinson, chairman of the Southwold and Reydon Society, state: “[We] will be opposing this application which we believe poses a very real threat to the unique character of Southwold High Street and to the viability of other local shops.

“Southwold already has 20 outlets in the town centre where coffee and/or food can be bought. They represent almost a quarter of the total number of ground-floor business premises in the town.

“There are a further 11 outlets outside the town centre, notably along the promenade and on the pier. Why, therefore, do we need another one?”

The letter – sent to Waveney council, Southwold Town Council and displayed on public notice boards – adds: “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.

“The appearance of yet another national brand – to add to recent arrivals Tesco, WH Smith and Aubin & Wills – can only detract from Southwold’s individuality.

“We believe the application from Costa Coffee represents a watershed in the development of the town which, if unchallenged, could result in irreversible changes.”

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.

The mayor of Southwold, John Windell, said the town council would not be influenced by its success in other parts of the UK.

He said: “An application has been put in for change of use, but most of the application is legal papers stating the reasons why we cannot recommend the application for refusal. I can say with authority that we are not going to be bullied by these people.

He added: “I am cheered by the news that the Southwold Chamber of Trade and the Southwold and Reydon Society have come together to oppose this – it helps to show a united front.”

The EDP approached Costa Coffee and its agent, Savills, but no one was available for comment.

15 comments

  • "One more place then full of mini Boots, New Look, Costa, Subway, DP's until there is nothing left of what they all came to exploit in the first place. It would be the same if it was Wells or Hunstanton-when the independents that make a town different are all gone life becomes a little less interesting. Why is it such a bad thing that there are some quiet places left for those who like them, we have chavdom shoved down our throats from all quarters. Even Norwich is much rougher round the edges than it was thirty or so years ago .Of course it will be the chavs on coaches who patronise the place, but it will draw custom from some of the others maybe just enough to shut them down." Chavdom? Woe betide that a national cafe chain should dare to have a branch in Southwold and upset the sensitivities of the locals. Perhaps the locals would rather shun the idea in favour of a one-off greasy, sweaty kebab shop, complete with a flashing neon sign. Deary me!

    Report this comment

    Musto_Fan

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

  • Southwold has become a victim of its own success. It is now the (second) home of several well known individuals and every coach tour seems to make a bee line for the town which is full to the gunnels during the summer months. Costa Coffee obviously wants a piece of the action and which business wouldn`t. Being pragmatic, already having national chains in the town, such as Tesco and WH Smiths, it is going to be very difficult for the council not to approve the application. Costa Coffee is not exactly cheap so it will fit in well with other similar outlets in the high street. The town seems unable to attract businesses to fill its empty shops so what are the options? Continue to leave them empty, which doesn`t look good, or have another place to go for a cuppa?

    Report this comment

    BG

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • I was born in that part of Suffolk and I have visited Southwold for over fifty years. However, if local outlets compete with nationals in Ipswich, Lowestoft, Norwich and King's Lynn, why not in Southwold? I can see no reason why the local and national outlets cannot live side by side, unless of course the locals are on to something so profitable that they don't want anyone else getting a bit of it.

    Report this comment

    Patriotic Republican

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • @ Musto_Fan - Bit of a storm in a coffee cup really!

    Report this comment

    BG

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • I wish them every success-everywhere I go nice high streets are made same old when national chains put small branches in premises formerly occupied by small independent shops. Costa coffee, like Starbucks, once tried, never again -expensive and not nice. favoured by the pot noodle generation no doubt. Southwold is one of the last places I would want or expect to see such a place.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • "One more place then full of mini Boots, New Look, Costa, Subway, DP's until there is nothing left of what they all came to exploit in the first place. It would be the same if it was Wells or Hunstanton-when the independents that make a town different are all gone life becomes a little less interesting. Why is it such a bad thing that there are some quiet places left for those who like them, we have chavdom shoved down our throats from all quarters. Even Norwich is much rougher round the edges than it was thirty or so years ago .Of course it will be the chavs on coaches who patronise the place, but it will draw custom from some of the others maybe just enough to shut them down." Chavdom? Woe betide that a national cafe chain should dare to have a branch in Southwold and upset the sensitivities of the locals. Perhaps the locals would rather shun the idea in favour of a one-off greasy, sweaty kebab shop, complete with a flashing neon sign. Deary me!

    Report this comment

    Musto_Fan

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

  • God forbid that the town has something that might attract....gulp....working class people there....I can fully understand their horror. How utterly dreadful, poor people walking around drinking coffee whilst simultaneously bringing down house prices. The council should go the full hog and have border patrols, afterall, you can never be too careful these days....who knows, a swarthy foreigner might get in....and once you're on that slippery slope, it might be too late.

    Report this comment

    merrydancer

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • One more place then full of mini Boots, New Look, Costa, Subway, DP's until there is nothing left of what they all came to exploit in the first place. It would be the same if it was Wells or Hunstanton-when the independents that make a town different are all gone life becomes a little less interesting. Why is it such a bad thing that there are some quiet places left for those who like them, we have chavdom shoved down our throats from all quarters. Even Norwich is much rougher round the edges than it was thirty or so years ago .Of course it will be the chavs on coaches who patronise the place, but it will draw custom from some of the others maybe just enough to shut them down.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

  • Merrydancer-what has being working class got to do with liking something cheap and nasty, do you think the working classes can't appreciate decent food and drink? And why should an independent coffee or tea shop be any more expensive than Costas or Starbucks ? It is certainly not the case in towns like Ely, where the independents offer a range from posh afternoon teas to more humble but still nice alternatives. Working class is not synonymous with chav.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • To clarify I wish opponents of Costa-Whitbread every success

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • What is the problem? There is an empty outlet and a proposal to fill it, with which would come employment and a further choice to residents, visitors and tourists. For pity's sake; it is a national cafe chain, not a table dancing club! Some should learn to keep a sense of proportion and understand that society cannot survive solely on the corner shop mentality. If Costa is not wanted, then presumably it will not survive, and those in their ivory towers have nothing to fear??? We shall see.

    Report this comment

    Musto_Fan

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • As a continuous visitor to Hemsby, Norfolk for 50 years one of our delights has been and continues to be Southwold and its particular character. I was dismayed to read in my online read of the EDP 24, that Southwold is under fire from one of these expand and make money companies, regardless of the effect they may be having on the character of their latest attempt to increase profits. If an online petition to refuse permission to Costco Coffe e were to be publicised and opened I feel sure that many people including all my family members woul sign it. Keep `em out.

    Report this comment

    Yorky

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • Southwold lost it's special character when it became a TESCO TOWN like thousands of other towns. A coffee shop makes a change from the usual Southwold obsession with nasty tankers and nasty buses!

    Report this comment

    Port Watcher

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • Southwold has long been the preserve of weekender Range Rover driving, Hunter boots wearing city types, wanting their infernal offspring to experience the same twee, rose tinted, middle class utopia of their apparent childhood. It's a last bastion of an England that never really existed in the first place. It's almost a fashion statement to say you've been to Southwold, Wells etc. If Southwold wants to survive, the future isn't in pretentious over priced boutiques (Fanny & Franks, give me a break!) catering to the well heeled, April through to September. Besides all that, Costa coffee tastes like thermonuclear heated road tar, Starshmucks is much nicer, cheaper and just pretentious enough to fit right in. Enjoy!

    Report this comment

    frank young

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

  • "God forbid that the town has something that might attract....gulp....working class people there....I can fully understand their horror. How utterly dreadful, poor people walking around drinking coffee whilst simultaneously bringing down house prices. The council should go the full hog and have border patrols, afterall, you can never be too careful these days....who knows, a swarthy foreigner might get in....and once you're on that slippery slope, it might be too late." I'm sure that if people walk around Southwold, just like any other seaside town or village, eating fish and chips from polystyrene packaging with a wooden fork, it shouldn't pose too much of a problem for the locals seeing others walking around consuming coffee from a cardboard cup, regardless of where it came from.

    Report this comment

    Musto_Fan

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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