Woodbridge: Controversial coffee shop set to carry on trading

A NATIONAL cafe chain looks set to be allowed to continue trading in a Suffolk market town – despite moving in without the correct planning permission.

Caffe Nero faced fierce opposition when it opened up a premises on the corner of Brook Street and Thoroughfare, in Woodbridge.

The national Italian coffee bar chain had not applied for the required planning permission for the site, which was designated for retail use only.

Suffolk Coastal District Council pledged to investigate and on Thursday its south area development control sub committee will consider a report on the issue.

It is recommended that Caffe Nero be allowed to continue subject to a number of conditions.

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The report says the council were advised not to issue a temporary stop notice because there was no “serious harm” caused by the breach of planning control.

Caffe Nero submitted a planning application in September – shortly after it opened – but it included insufficient information, the report says.

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“Since this information does not appear to be forthcoming it now seems appropriate to determine whether it is expedient to take enforcement action or not,” it reads. The report adds that the cafe could help the town centre.

“Whilst there is no objective evidence indicating that Woodbridge town centre is in decline, a number of units are currently empty and in view of the current economic climate it is considered that every support that the council can give to the vitality of the town centre should clearly be considered,” the report says.

It concludes – given changes in policy and legislation – that a departure from the local plan is justified and that an enforcement notice be issued with conditions including controlled opening hours, use of premises as a coffee bar and no tables or chairs to be placed on the highway.

Some business leaders were concerned the move had happened without the correct permission and had flouted planning laws, as well as fearing the impact it could have on independent retailers.

Those in favour believed a new cafe would benefit the town centre. Caffe Nero were unavailable for comment.

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