Costa Coffee brews up fresh plan to open in Midhurst

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ANOTHER storm is brewing in Midhurst with a second bid from high street giant Costa Coffee to open a cafe in the centre of the town.

The first bid failed in January when members of Chichester District Council threw out a plan for a change of use of the Unusual Food Company in North Street.

Although Costa Coffee were not then named, they were widely believed to be the company behind the plan

Now the company is appealing against the decision and in the mean time it has put its name to a second planning application which will also go before the planning committee.

A spokesman for CDC said: “The application for the change of use is the same, however more information has been submitted to help overcome the concerns raised to the previous application.”

But traders in Midhurst say they will continue to fight Costa Coffee’s plans.

Clive Newell who jointly owns Ye Olde Tea Shoppe in North Street with his partner Mary Geiss said: “We are all still against these plans and will keep objecting to make sure we don’t lose this retail shop - we need variation, not more of the same.

“The Unusual Food Company is something different in Midhurst, that shoppers won’t find anywhere else. It is a valuable asset to the town and we don’t want to lose this kind of retail business in North Street.”

Re-submitting the plans Costa’s agent Savills said: “The application offers the council the opportunity to reassess the application in the light of additional information and avoid the unnecessary costs incurred for both parties in respect of a planning appeal.

Associate director Paul Williams has produced figures which he said showed Costa Coffee was consistently higher than other retailers in terms of footfall on Fridays and Saturdays in five towns surveyed.

Last month there was wide-spread protest when an application went to CDC to change the use of the popular North Street shop.

Shop owners already in business in the town warned it could be one cafe too many and spell the end for another business already operating in Midhurst.

They were relieved when the district council’s northern area development control committee members voted to throw out the plan despite the fact it was recommended for approval by their planning officers.

Members agreed with Midhurst representative Brian Weekes that consent should be refused on the grounds of a significant loss of retail use.