By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter / email@example.com
Plans for a Costa coffee shop in Gloucester Road have been recommended for approval despite nearly 3,000 objections.
Bristol City Council is due to make a decision on a proposal, to turn an empty recruitment agency premises in The Promenade into a cafe later today.
Traders and residents say there are enough cafes in the area already, and argue that Gloucester Road is known for its independent shops rather than “faceless” High Street chains.
But the applicant says it will bring more jobs to the area and council officers say there are no reasonable grounds to refuse plans for the coffee shop.
To date 2,951 people have signed a petition against the store called “Let’s not be bound by chains”.
It states: “We value the variety of independent shops on the Gloucester Road and are opposed to any further expansion of corporate chains because it will undermine the viability of independent shops and make the Gloucester Road like all other chain dominated high streets”.
This argument is the same one used against the Tesco Express in Cheltenham Road, which was opened earlier this year despite thousands of objections.
A further 20 individual objections have been submitted to the council, on a range of grounds.
These include increased noise for neighbouring properties and more litter.
The Bishopston Society has also opposed the plans, arguing the new coffee shop “will do little to enhance either the appeal or business activity of the section of Gloucester Road”.
Ward councillor Fi Hance (Liberal Democrat, Redland) has joined the voices opposing the plan, arguing that the loss of the existing retail type would “further undermine the vitality, viability and diversity of the shopping area”.
In a statement Ms Hance said: “I am aware that the property is currently empty, but do not, however, feel that its use should be regained at any price.
“There are several areas of Bristol which formerly sustained wide diversity of businesses which are now dominated by cafes of this
type and I have no wish to see the Gloucester Road follow suit.”
Planning officers have recommended approval, arguing another cafe would not be harmful to the area, and to refuse permission on those grounds would be “unreasonable”. The application has been submitted by couple Stuart and Lynn Montgomery. They say the new shop would create ten new jobs for people aged 18 to 26.
Mr Montgomery lives in Westbury-on-Trym and runs Costa coffee shops in Henleaze and Portishead. The application is due to be decided by the planning committee at a meeting at the Council House at 2pm today.