Controversial coffee bar can stay

AN owner of a coffee bar which was forced to close its town centre premises is left with mixed feelings today after another similar venture was given the go-ahead.

AN owner of a coffee bar which was forced to close its town centre premises is left with mixed feelings today after another similar venture was given the go-ahead.

Suffolk Coastal councillors approved Caffé Nero's outlet in Felixstowe - despite it opening without planning permission and being against policy.

Malcolm Catling, former owner of Puccino's coffee house, which was forced by the council to close after also opening without consent in the stretch of Hamilton Road designated for shops, objected to Caffé Nero's application but said his concern was about all outlets being treated the same.

He said: “I am not personally against Caffé Nero - in fact, I believe there should be a coffee bar in that part of Hamilton Road - I just believe that they should be subject to the same treatment as Puccino's.


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“When Suffolk Coastal forced me to shut my business it caused a lot of distress for staff and a loss of investment for my part.

“However, I abided by the council's decision.

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“The Caffé Nero application and all the justifications and arguments for granting it are exactly the same as they were for Puccino's.

“So there should be no difference in the application of the rules.

“The bottom line is that the planning hasn't changed, the law hasn't changed, the type of business hasn't changed.

“Perhaps if an outlet becomes free, Puccino's could now return.”

Councillors voted by six to two to allow Caffé Nero to remain open.

Despite fears it could set a precedent and lead to a flood of other similar ventures and loss of shops, planners said each would be judged on its merits, change of use of larger outlets would be resisted, and the council could say no if too many tipped the balance.

Councillor Bob Snell expressed sympathy with Puccino's, which had been ahead of its time for Felixstowe, and said government had now caught up and was permitting coffee bars among shops.

He said: “The weight of the argument has changed and I think if this was Puccino's applying for permission today in this case we would be saying yes.”

Councillor Gordon Laing though said: “I think if we go against our policy and allow this, the council loses lots of integrity in the eyes of the population.”

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

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