‘If we shut down, we’re homeless’ - concern grows over plans to open Costa Coffee branch in Cromer as MP Norman Lamb urges chain to rethink proposals
- Credit: Eleanor Pringle
Costa Coffee has been urged to rethink its plans to open up a new outlet in Cromer amid fears the national chain will 'swamp' the seaside resort and sink independent traders.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb raised his concerns in a letter to managing director Jason Cotta after being taken on a tour of coffee shops in Cromer by the town's chamber of trade and business on Friday afternoon.
He warned the chain, which looks set to move in to 61-63 Church Street, currently home to charity shops Sue Ryder and Cancer Research, could impinge on its image as a socially responsible business.
In his letter, Mr Lamb writes: 'Cromer is now unusual in this country in having no chain coffee shops or eating places. This is part of the wonderful attraction that Cromer offers to people and there is a very strong feeling locally that they want to preserve this.
'They are deeply concerned about the size of your proposed coffee shop. With over 90 covers, the real
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concern is that this could completely swamp the town and take vital business away from locally run coffee shops putting them at serious risk.'
And he added: 'I would urge you to think again about your proposed coffee shop in Cromer.'
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Local traders stressed that money spent in their outlets is reinvested in the local community.
Philip Search, who last year opened Henry's Coffee and Tea Store, said: 'For Costa this is just an experiment, if they want to shut up shop and leave a hole in the high street it's not a big deal.
'To us if we shut down, we're homeless. We've invested our livelihoods into these places. Our families are invested, because if we shut they're impacted too.'
Earlier this summer, Cromer Town Council revealed it was powerless to reject the plans for Costa. The town's former mayor has branded the national chain's plans for seaside resort as 'excessive'.
Laura Whyte, who runs neighbouring coffee shop Huckleberries, is worried about the impact Costa could have on her business.
She said: 'We've been here seven and a half years and we hope we'd keep it that way. But Cromer gets so many tourists and although we have a few regular holidaymakers people that are here for maybe a day or the weekend will just stick to what they know.'