Independent cafes in a North Yorkshire market town should feel confident about their future, despite plans being approved for a major commercial coffee chain to move in.
Costa will become the first global coffee brand to open an outlet in the small town of Easingwold, after its proposal was approved by Hambleton District Council.
The plans have proved highly contentious locally, attracting 122 formal objections for several reasons, including fears over what the competition for business will mean for established independent outfits.
According to one coffee shop owner there are already 13 cafes or shops where people can order a coffee in a town of 6,000 people, while the chairman of the town council said he would have preferred a different retail use for the vacant former HSBC bank building which will be taken over by Costa in the Market Place.
Eddie Copley-Sarnell, chairman of the Easingwold Business Group and owner of The Curious Table coffee shop, also located in the marketplace, said: “With my hat on as an Easingwold resident, it’s a shame we are getting a chain and another coffee shop.
“But, we do speciality coffee and our customers are very loyal to independents, not just us, so I feel it won’t affect us on a day to day basis. When I do think it will is in the summer when the tourist coaches pull up and visitors will see Costa and go there rather than try an independent.”
Peter Nottage, chairman of Easingwold Town Council, said that while the town as a whole harboured mixed feelings, he was disappointed that the former bank premises will not be used for something else.
“For me it’s a lost opportunity to get more diversity in the marketplace. We could do with some different kinds of shops or an evening restaurant but I will keep an open mind.
“The wrong thing to do now is worry and moan about what’s happened. Obviously some of the coffee shops see it as competition they could do without but others don’t think it will affect them as they serve a different demographic. I think they should have confidence in their own offering as independent retailers with quality produce.”
As part of Costa’s plans, the building will be given a £400,000 upgrade. The shop will open seven days a week and is expected to create at least 18 jobs.
Last month, the chain also had plans accepted by Richmondshire District Council to open an outlet in Leyburn.