Costa Coffee step up plans to open Wells cafe
COSTA Coffee has stepped up its plans to open a new cafe in Wells.
The coffee giant has submitted two further planning applications for the former Stead & Simpson store on the High Street.
Even though its initial application for change of use has not yet been approved by Mendip District Council, Costa has submitted plans for the shop front and advertising signs.
While Mendip has not yet made its minds up about the scheme there has been widespread opposition to another coffee shop in Wells.
When the Journal ran the original story in July many of our readers commented on our website and Facebook page that they felt that bringing a national cafe chain to the High Street could potentially put other, independent coffee shops out of business.
When the first application came before Wells City Council planning committee, businessman Loaye Agabani addressed his concerns to councillors.
He said: "What I'd like to know is what impact Costa would have, economically, on Wells. If the answer is negative or neutral there is no reason to grant the change of use. They wouldn't be bringing anything to Wells.
"People might say that it's better than an empty shop but there is a high demand for shops here."
The members of the committee agreed with him.
Councillor Norman Kennedy agreed said: "I've tried to think of ways of refusing this and it's very difficult.
"The only way I can think of is how many coffee shops there are already. I counted more than 30.
"I believe in competition but at some point someone must say enough is enough."
The committee voted unanimously to recommend refusal of the plans – although this puts no obligation on Mendip.
In its application, Costa includes a report that says coffee shops meet the change in nature of high streets nationwide.
It outlines the economic benefit of coffee shops saying that they are "frequently ignition brands making the high street a more attractive place".
The latest two applications are due to be discussed by the city council tonight. This is a public meeting and anyone can attend and express their concerns or support for any planning application. If you would like to look at the plans they can be viewed on the Mendip website, www.mendip.gov.uk, and searching for planning application numbers 2013/1102, 2013/1449 and 2013/1484.