Council committee to decide on Costa plan

By Karen Perrow in Business

PLANS by Costa to open a coffee shop in Dartmouth will come before district councillors later this month.

South Hams Council’s development management committee will on Wednesday, January 18, decide an application to convert the former card and chocolate shop at 5-9 Victoria Road into a coffee shop.

Costa also wants to modify the shop front, install three new air-conditioning units on a side wall and is seeking advertisement consent for one facia sign and one projecting sign at the premises.

The controversial plan, which has seen online petitions set up both for and against Costa, has been called in for debate by Cllr Jonathan Hawkins.

District council planning officers have yet to make a recommendation on the proposals but the agenda is expected to be posted on the council’s website next week.

Dartmouth town council’s planning committee wants to see the Costa change of use application refused but is happy with the remainder of the conversion proposals.

Concerns have been raised about the loss of another retail shop in the town and the effect a coffee shop would have on residents who live in cottages behind.

Worries over rubbish collections, noise from air conditioning units and the unneighbourly element of the plan have also been voiced.

But Costa maintains a coffee shop would provide new jobs and boost footfall and improve the vitality and viability of the town centre.

A planning statement submitted with the applications says figures show that Costa coffee in a number of different town centres generates significant levels of customers comparable with, and in excess of other retailers.

Furthermore, the nature of the proposed use is likely to encourage combined trips to surrounding retail outlets, it says.

Costa is proposing to open between 6.30am-8pm on normal working days and between 8.30am-6.30pm on Sundays and bank holidays.

More than 120 people took part in a Costa survey conducted by the Dart­mouth Chamber of Trade, including some members of the public. Of the business responses, some 59 per cent were in favour of the coffee shop opening.

An online poll conducted by the Chronicle attracted 607 votes, 59 per cent of which were in favour.

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