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Storm brewing at Marlborough coffee shop
Anger is growing in Marlborough over Caffe Nero’s plan to open on Saturday even though it doesn’t have planning permission.
Contractors are close to finishing conversion work at the former Dash fashion store in the High Street, which is being adapted to have seating on two floors for the café.
However, the coffee chain’s application for change of use is not due to be considered by Wiltshire Council until at least May 17 when the Eastern area planning committee next meets.
Town council planners gave a unanimous thumbs down to the plans last week and the Chamber of Commerce has written to Wiltshire planners saying the shop is in a prime retail location and should stay as such.
Caffe Nero has boasted that councils in other market towns which have opposed it have lost on appeal, which has led town councillor Rich Pitts to suggest that people from Marlborough should hold a peaceful protest outside the new café when it opens on Saturday.
Speaking at the town council’s annual meeting on Monday, he said: “The town is exploding with anger and frustration at the outrageous actions of an international company that thinks it can flout the regulations.”
He said another coffee shop – it is estimated the town has more than 30 places where people can get coffee – was “the last thing” the town centre needed if it was going to survive the recession.
“I call on residents and retailers to demand that Wiltshire Council takes legal action if necessary to stop Caffe Nero,” he said.
Coun Stewart Dobson told the meeting that developers were not acting illegally by starting work before planning consent was granted and, if it was refused, Caffe Nero would appeal.
The meeting agreed by a majority to suggest that townspeople show their strength of feeling by attending the eastern area planning meeting when Caffe Nero’s plans are debated.