Coffee bar battle

A NEW coffee bar which has opened in Felixstowe town centre could face a battle to stay - after opening without permission in an area designated for shops.

A NEW coffee bar which has opened in Felixstowe town centre could face a battle to stay - after opening without permission in an area designated for shops.

Caffe Nero has opened its new branch in the area of Hamilton Road between Boots and Bank Corner which planners describe as the resort's prime shopping stretch.

Three years ago, Puccino's coffee bar - almost exactly opposite where Caffe Nero is now trading - was forced to close after Suffolk Coastal took action against the outlet.

Despite a 1,200-signature petition urging the council to allow Puccino's to stay, planning permission was refused and a government-appointed inspector backed the authority on appeal, also ruling the coffee bar should shut following the two-and-a-half year battle.

Now the same situation faces Caffe Nero and residents are waiting to see if the council takes identical action.

The town is likely to be divided on the issue and town and district councillor Doreen Savage is one of many with mixed feelings.

Most Read

She said: “As a resident, my heart says yes and the more things we have like this, hopefully along with pedestrianisation in the future to make the town centre friendly for shoppers as opposed to cars, will bring real benefits for the town,” she said.

“It will be great to embrace the café culture and be able to make that part of going shopping, as it is in other towns.

“But as a councillor I know that this application is against current policy and we have to look at what the policy says now.”

Councillors are currently looking at policy and it may be changed in the future plan for the district.

A Suffolk Coastal spokesman said: “It has opened without planning permission from the council, but an application has now been received and advertised as a departure from the council's Local Plan and is currently out to public consultation.

“Although it is against current council planning policies, there is nothing to stop the operators opening but if, after judging the application on its merits, the development control sub committee does decide to refuse the application, then the next step would be enforcement action requiring it to close.”

The application is likely to go to the committee next month.

No-one was available to comment from Caffe Nero's London headquarters.

Should Caffe Nero be allowed to stay? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Caffe Nero

Caffè Nero Group Ltd was founded in 1997.

It is currently the largest independent coffee retailer in the UK, with over 360 Caffè Nero stores, employing 3,000 staff.

It aims to provide a European-style coffee house experience with espresso-based gourmet coffee, authentic Italian food products and a relaxing atmosphere.

Over the years it has won many awards and been described as “The best espresso this side of Milan” by Tatler magazine and “The traditional Italian Cafè” by Egon Ronay.

It has outlets in both Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds.

The outlet in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, replaced a JJB sports store vacated earlier this year.