DEVIZES has plenty of coffee shops but entrepreneurs Alan and Ramona Richards are planning to open a tea room selling speciality teas.

The couple, of Trowbridge Road, Seend, have applied for planning permission to open a tea room in the former Gary Hatto barber shop in The Ginnel.

They believe that there is a niche in the market for their idea and that it will benefit traders in The Ginnel, off the Market Place.

Mr Richards and his wife have been running Home Sweep Home, a domestic and commercial cleaning business, for the past five years.

Mr Richards is also a qualified food technologist and worked in the food industry for 15 years.

He said: “It’s always been a desire to start a business that’s food orientated. We have both got an interest in tea and, to a certain extent, coffee. We like exotic, unusual teas and health aspects that come along with tea as well. We want to introduce people to a wider variety of teas from around the world.”

They plan to open a tea room on the ground floor, and the first floor would include retailing tea products for consumption at home.

Mr Richards said: “ There will be a wide selection of teas and coffees as well. The aim is to make it a destination for locals and tourists.”

Their agent, Keith Bennett, says in the planning application: “The proposed use, due to its unique speciality attraction, will enhance the local area and bring a lot more people into The Ginnel, helping to sustain the vitality and viability of neighbouring shops in The Ginnel and the town in general.”

The Ginnel is one of the areas that tourists arriving by coach in New Park Street will walk through following the award of Coach Friendly status to the town recently.

The town council’s planning committee have raised no objections to the plan.

The former barber shop has been empty for about a year since Gary Hatto relocated to The Brittox.

Ginnel trader Sarah Clarke, owner of Upper Cut Clothing, welcomed the tea room plan.

She said: “We have a lot of coffee houses in town and it will be lovely to have an independent tea house.”