Caffé Nero is charged with “making a mockery” of the planning system
Caffé Nero, now converting the former Dash fashion shop in Marlborough High Street into an addition to its international chain, has been accused of “making a mockery of the planning system.”
The company has been charged with starting work on converting the premises on March 24 without having made an planning application for change of use – and then only did so when challenged.
And although a belated application has now been made to Wiltshire Council, there are still fears that they will open the new Caffé Nero before Wiltshire planners makes a decision at the end of the month.
The allegations come from Mark Waring-Jones (pictured), 41-year-old owner of Applebys café and Marlborough Confectioners, in Hughenden Yard, who has objected to the Café Nero development and is appealing to other retailers -- and residents -- to follow his initiative.
“Marlborough has been rather sheltered from the recession until about six months ago when it trade was hit hard,” he told Marlborough News Online. “There has been a growing number of empty shops in that time. And the fear is that the problems will get worse.”
“At the end of the day there are only so many people coming to Marlborough and with 22 eating and drinking sites you end up diluting the trade to an extent that there is not enough to go round to make a business sustainable.”
In an objection sent to Wiltshire planning officer Peter Horton, Mr Waring-Jones, who has owned Applebys for the past seven years and Marlborough Confectioners for two years, reveals that work had started on converting the Dash fashion store without an planning application being made.
“My concern and one which is shared from a number of retailers in town is the serious lack of concern for the town or indeed the building,” he protested. “At this point I must draw your attention to the attached document detailing the reasons as to why a very similar site only a few doors down was refused change of use.”
“After some investigation I can also confirm there are now over 22 outlets selling coffee and food etc in the town. I must also point out that work clearly started on site as confirmed by Caffé Nero themselves. In an email dated 7th March from Guy Mauduit he clearly states work will be starting on March 24th.”
“In my opinion this kind of process makes a mockery of the planning system whereby a large international company can simply ignore planning procedure and just carry on regardless and, of course, then make an application retrospectively.”
“Work on the building has been non-stop all over the Easter holidays including Easter Sunday.”
He also pointed out to Marlborough News Online: “To add insult to injury, Caffé Nero also saw fit to try and use my café to conduct their interviews for the Marlborough branch.”
“A lady from Nero thought it was perfectly acceptable to purchase one coffee for £1.80 and spend the entire day interviewing whilst my regular coffee drinkers had to listen to her telling everyone how so say amazing the company was.”
“I, on the other hand, find it in incredibly bad taste and inappropriate. I was also not surprised that Caffé Nero didn't have the good manners to return my call.”
“A customer of mine summed it up by saying, ‘Marlborough High Street is slowly becoming defaced’. Put another way, it is slowly becoming like any other town occupied by the same brand names we see up and down the country.”
He added: “Another question I put to everyone is: how much of their profits are seeing there way back into the town or in some cases even the country?”
“Take myself for example, I live here, I have two businesses here, my daughter goes to school here, I earn my money and I spend it in the town.”
“I believe the only way we will have any impact is to get the support and backing of the town's people and, if they really want to help they can object to the application, by one of the following methods:
- Display your concern directly to Wiltshire Council. Write to: Peter Horton, Case Officer, Development Control East, Wiltshire Council, Browfort, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 2AT. His direct dial number is 01380 734898
- Visit the website detailed below and enter the following specific planning reference number ( E/2012/0359/FUL ) eastplanning.wiltshire.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/ApplicationSearch.aspx
Marlborough town council’s Planning Committee will consider the planning application on Monday and make a recommendation to the Wiltshire Council, which will make a decision on April 29.
Marlborough News Online has twice emailed Caffé Nero’s new developments manager Anna Yates seeking a statement but has yet to receive a response.