Southwold: Costa Coffee refuse to rule out an appeal as campaigners vow to fight on

CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to continue to protect the “unique character” of their town from the threat of national chains after winning a battle to stop a coffee shop from opening.

Waveney District Council’s development control committee refused plans by Costa Coffee to open a new branch in Southwold High Street on Tuesday night.

Yesterday those fighting the plans welcomed the decision and said they would continue to fight to protect their town from large, national chains.

John Perkins, secretary of the Southwold and Reydon Society, said: “The decision was important because it represented a rare victory in the battle being waged by residents groups in Suffolk against a tidal wave of applications by national retail chains that could change the face of their towns forever.

“For the moment in Southwold we have won the battle - but the war goes on . What we have learned is that we will need to be extra vigilant from now on because of the way that these chains appear to work with property development companies.

“If the Costa plan was allowed, then other national chains would move in and Southwold’s High Street would soon take on the same ‘cloned’ look of other high streets around the UK.

“The Costa application was therefore seen as a tipping point which would dictate the way Southwold developed in the future and the stakes were high.”

Most Read

Mayor of Southwold Michael Ladd, who is also a district councillor and attended Tuesday’s planning meeting, said he thought Costa Coffee would probably appeal the decision.

“At the end of the day we make decisions on planning policy and what is right for the town and community,” he said. “It is about trying to protect our independent shops and character and history of the town.”

Guy Mitchell, chairman of Southwold and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said they would be keeping a close eye on the situation and would continue the fight should Costa decide to appeal.

“We’re extremely pleased the district council listened to the local community and would particularly like to thank councillor Ladd who made it very clear the effect a Costa could have,” he said. “We will be keeping a very close eye on the situation. Should they appeal we will continue to fight.

“There has to be a place for some difference – I don’t think towns have to be exactly the same. It’s nice to live in a country where there is some variety on our high streets.”

Despite repeated attempts a spokesman for Costa Coffee was unavailable for comment.