Coffee giant is accused of feeding off thriving Marlborough market town

This Is Wiltshire: Caffè Nero Holdings Caffè Nero Holdings

No to Nero was the overwhelming message from Marlborough residents who accused the coffee giant of feeding off the thriving market town during a planning appeal.

The appeal opened on Tuesday and six residents gave evidence before planning inspector Phil Grainger in support of Wiltshire Council’s decision to reject Caffè Nero’s application while only two spoke in support of the chain.

Councillor Richard Gamble, who is vice chairman of Wiltshire Council’s eastern area planning committee and voted against the application in July, argued that the change of use did not meet the requirements of the Kennet local plan which states that developments must make a positive contribution to vitality and viability of the town centre.

He said: “The letter from the applicant’s agent paid little attention to the individuality of Marlborough. This was made evident when a very similar letter was submitted by the same agent in respect of a subsequent application in Devizes.”

However, Ben Price, Caffè Nero’s finance director, dismissed this claim. He said: “We make significant investments in the stores that we buy. We pick them carefully. We understand the difference between Chippenham, Devizes and Marlborough.”

Sarah Clover, for Wiltshire Council, argued that rather than contributing to the town, Caffè Nero fed off Waitrose and car parking, which both bring high levels of activity to the area.

She said: “Locating Caffè Nero precisely here in the High Street has the tendency to concentrate footfall and activity to one area of the High Street which is a negative thing for Marlborough overall.”

This was a point echoed by High Street resident Liz Rolph who said: “Having a café in the location where Caffè Nero is means that people appear not to be moving past that point as much as they did when it was a clothes retailer.

“I don’t have a particular axe to grind with Nero Holdings but I do live in the High Street and I do notice that there is less footfall.”

But Mr Price said there is no evidence to support this claim, adding: “We are in a very prominent position in one of the shopping centres in Chippenham. The landlord worked very hard to persuade us to go in there because he believed it was going to be one of the things that made his centre function properly.”

In his opening remarks James Findlay, counsel for Caffè Nero Holdings, said that the company had a fallback position and would be content to continue to trade as a takeaway only. He added: “Opposition to Caffè Nero is motivated by misplaced antagonism to multiple retail corporations.”

Caffe Nero moved into 21-22 High Street on March 24, days after submitting a change of use application, although they did not begin trading until April 30. The appeal has been adjourned until February 7.

Comments (6)

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8:44am Fri 18 Jan 13

What Really says...

It amazes me what this town council will bicker about, these people obviously have to much time on their hands, this 'unique' town Marlborough has some high street shopping names people recognise, Dorothy Perkins, Monsoon for example so why not a coffee shop brand? In Marlborough councils attempt to stay unique by putting 'unknown' shops they are alienating themselves too. Having brands in the high street that people recognise also shows the visitors to the town there is a thinking council to where a balance of the uniqueness of its yester years is complemented by the here and now. Neros offers a different drinking experience to the various coffee drinking establishments in Marlborough I am in favour of it staying and will continue to frequent it when I visit the high street there, it doesn't stop me from visiting shops at either end of the high street in fact if I want a Neros coffee it draws me back into the main shopping area.
Really the council should stop wasting the publics money and get on with something more important.
As far as the car park issue, do they honestly think that when people arrive to the high street from the direction of the car parks they stand there and just see Cafe Nero?
No people look beyond their noses to check to see what the high street has to offer and go off to explore, thus a question arise in its positioning, is Café Nero really missing out on the passing trade from that area?
It amazes me what this town council will bicker about, these people obviously have to much time on their hands, this 'unique' town Marlborough has some high street shopping names people recognise, Dorothy Perkins, Monsoon for example so why not a coffee shop brand? In Marlborough councils attempt to stay unique by putting 'unknown' shops they are alienating themselves too. Having brands in the high street that people recognise also shows the visitors to the town there is a thinking council to where a balance of the uniqueness of its yester years is complemented by the here and now. Neros offers a different drinking experience to the various coffee drinking establishments in Marlborough I am in favour of it staying and will continue to frequent it when I visit the high street there, it doesn't stop me from visiting shops at either end of the high street in fact if I want a Neros coffee it draws me back into the main shopping area. Really the council should stop wasting the publics money and get on with something more important. As far as the car park issue, do they honestly think that when people arrive to the high street from the direction of the car parks they stand there and just see Cafe Nero? No people look beyond their noses to check to see what the high street has to offer and go off to explore, thus a question arise in its positioning, is Café Nero really missing out on the passing trade from that area? What Really

8:43am Wed 23 Jan 13

Aran Oatan says...

What really, are you being paid just by the piece or for each reference? If for each mention you could have squeezed one or two more in, but otherwise well done!
What really, are you being paid just by the piece or for each reference? If for each mention you could have squeezed one or two more in, but otherwise well done! Aran Oatan

9:51am Wed 23 Jan 13

Laptop_Larry says...

What's the Kennet local plan? Kennet District Council was abolished years ago!
What's the Kennet local plan? Kennet District Council was abolished years ago! Laptop_Larry

2:55pm Wed 23 Jan 13

What Really says...

Aran Oatan,
Thank you, I wish I was being paid but alas I'm not, I just want to be able to choose where I want to drink rather than be told.
All the best
Aran Oatan, Thank you, I wish I was being paid but alas I'm not, I just want to be able to choose where I want to drink rather than be told. All the best What Really

6:47pm Wed 23 Jan 13

notscot says...

Accused of feeding off a thriving town?!!!!
Someone suggesting that's NOT what ALL town-centre businesses do???
Accused of feeding off a thriving town?!!!! Someone suggesting that's NOT what ALL town-centre businesses do??? notscot

6:51am Thu 24 Jan 13

Angolan Red says...

Marlborough born and bred and supporter of Cafe Nero, they should survive or perish on how good they are not on whether they are a large chain.If I was to complain about any cafe it would be the Waitrose one not needed just greed on their part
Marlborough born and bred and supporter of Cafe Nero, they should survive or perish on how good they are not on whether they are a large chain.If I was to complain about any cafe it would be the Waitrose one not needed just greed on their part Angolan Red

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