Woodbridge: Caffe Nero gets permission to trade - six months after opening

A NATIONAL coffee chain has been given permission to trade in Woodbridge – nearly six months after it opened a new shop.

Caffe Nero opened premises on the corner of Brook Street and Thoroughfare, in Woodbridge, at the end of last year.

The chain had not applied for the required permission for the site, which was designated for retail use only.

Earlier this year it handed a retrospective planning application to Suffolk Coastal District Council and yesterday members of the south area development control sub-commitee on Thursday gave their approval.

Planners had advised councillors that some existing policies and regulations were out of date and that the authority was taking a more flexible approach to town centres to enhance their “vitality and viability”.

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Some business leaders in the town had raised concerns because the cafe opened without the correct permission, while others who have previously asked to open a coffee shop in the same location have been refused.

The Woodbridge Society said the issue “brought the planning system into disrepute” and said the law should be changed to enable charges to be imposed in such cases.

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But it noted that the shop had been trading successfully and had enhanced the vitality of the town centre.

The cafe was allowed to continue trading subject to conditions controlling opening and delivery hours and its sole use as a coffee bar.

The councillors’ decision was greeted with dismay in some quarters.

Patrick Hockley, who runs the Woodbridge Fine Food Company, said he was frustrated with the council’s decision. “Everyone wants to come to Woodbridge and if Caffe Nero manages to open a shop without permission first, who will be next?” Caffe Nero was unavailable for comment last night.

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