Southwold: Victory for people power in coffee battle

CAMPAIGNERS were celebrating last night after controversial plans to set up a coffee shop in Southwold were refused.

People power won the day after campaigners successfully fought off a bid from the national Costa Coffee chain to open a new cafe in the town.

A crucial meeting at a packed Lowestoft Town Hall saw Waveney District council’s development control committee last night refuse plans by Costa Coffee to open a new branch at 70, High Street – the former Fanny & Franks’ clothes shop.

More than 60 people turned out for the meeting, and after more than an hour of debate seven district councillors voted to refuse the plans with just four backing the proposals.

With more than 90 objections to the proposals, including Southwold Town Council, the chamber of trade and the Southwold and Reydon Society (SRS), fears which had been raised about turning Southwold into a “clone town” were allayed.

With campaigners fearing the change-of-use application would damage the town’s unique character if it was given the go-ahead, councillor Michael Ladd, of the Southwold and Reydon Ward, said: “I consider that this application will have a severe detrimental impact on the town centre. I move therefore that this is refused.”

And despite Waveney District Council’s planning team recommending approval for the proposal – saying it would not detrimentally affect the “vitality and viability” of the town centre - councillors voted against the plans, to cheers and loud applause from the council chamber.

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Speaking after the meeting, John Windell, from Southwold town council, said: “The people have spoken. We are more than delighted with the decision.”

The chairman of the Southwold and Reydon Society, professor Michael Rowan Robinson said: “It’s absolutely fantastic - this is an amazing result. The councillors have listened to the people.”