Thanks to Chris Close for bringing to my attention the fact that Caffe Nero is breaking planning laws by opening a new coffee shop on Horsemarket (pictured above), which would require A3 consent, in a unit formerly occupied by the longest closing down sale in the history of the universe, TY McGurk, which had A1 planning consent.
Chris has been busy and found evidence of a couple of past misdemeanours by our classically named newcomers. I spent a few minutes on Google and found even more.
It appears that Caffe Nero believe themselves to be above the law. Here in Bankside, here in Dulwich, here in Petersfield, here in Sidcup, here in Hertford, and here on the BBC are a few examples of their high-handed attitude towards local, democratically elected planning authorities.
Caffe Nero applied for planning permission in Darlington on July 8th, after they had started work on their new unit, for change of use from A1 to Mixed A1/A3. The Borough Council planning portal shows this application as "pending consideration", with a link to an on-line form for anyone who wants to object.
Now, I've nothing against Caffe Nero. I've never been in one, I prefer local local coffee shops and cafes rather than multinational groups. And this conversion, in a frontage already dominated by cafes, pubs and a pizza restaurant, might well be a desirable improvement on tatty old TY McG, but what happened to the concept of local democracy? Why have planning rules and a Planning Applications Committee if multinational companies can just march in and do what they like?
Here are the Application details:
Ref No: 08/00586/CU
Officer: David Nelson
Application Type: Change of Use
Date Validated: 08 Jul 2008
Last Update: 08 Jul 2008
Address: Cafe Nero 9 - 10 Horsemarket DARLINGTON DL1 5PW
Applicant: Nero Holdings Limited : Caffe Nero 3 Neal Street LONDON WC2H 9PU
Agent: Brian Madge Limited : 20 Westmead Road SUTTON Surrey SM1 4JT
Proposal: Change of use from A1 (sports shop) to mixed A1/A3 use (cafe/shop)
Status: Pending Consideration Comment on application 08/00586/CU