Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Chippenham café counts cost of chains
10:00am Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
The boss of a county-wide traders’ organisation is set to close part of his own business because of falling trade and high car park prices.
Rob Perks, chief executive of the Wessex Association of Chambers of Commerce, wants to close his café, the Dutch Cottage tea room in Chippenham, to make way for a children’s nursery.
Mr Perks, who is also president of Chippenham Cham-ber of Commerce, said the business is struggling because of a surplus of coffee shops in the town and high prices for parking. But all the nurseries have long waiting lists as women want to get back to work, he said.
He has applied for planning permission to change the use of the building in St Mary Street, which opened as a tea room in 2006. If it is granted, the new nursery would generate nine jobs.
Mr Perks said: “Coffee shops, along with the rest of Chippenham in general, are struggling. The town is suffering from too many coffee shops and having to pay for parking.
“Big chains see it as a big town, but it can’t support them because all the people living on the perimeters aren’t coming into the centre, they’re going off to work in Swindon and elsewhere.
“But there is a big need for nurseries, the others in the town have long waiting lists.
“Lots of women are looking to go back to work.”
Mr Perks said his daughter Amy Street, 27, would be co-manager of the business.
Ms Street, of Charter Road, has Early Years Professional status, equivalent to qualified teacher status for under- fives. She worked in a nursery in Colerne for two years before leaving to have her son Austin, who is now seven months old.
She said: “I enjoy the flexibility of early years, being able to go with the children’s interests rather than being tied too much to a curriculum. We’d take a maximum of 20 children, so it would be very personal.”
She would manage the nur-sery along with 26-year-old Hannah Gayles, of Colerne.
It plans to offer assisted places for those on low incomes who can get financial help from Wiltshire Council.
Wiltshire Council aims to make a decision by March 26 and if it is approved, the business could open in early May.
Chippenham Town Coun-cil raised no objection to the plans. The deadline for comments to Wiltshire Council is March 14.