Thursday, 17 July 2008

Caffe Nero at it again

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


Aeres said...

You're right of course, but I noticed in all your examples that Cafe Nero is still trading happily in all of the places (albeit they've been rejected and are appealing in Dulwich).

I hate to say it, but unless the rules change I can't see any incentive for them to stop what they're doing. Even if they do get rejected retrospectively they can appeal and keep trading whilst it goes through the due processes.

Mind you, thank heavens that McGurk's has finally gone. Their 'CLOSING DOWN' (in huge letters) 'for a small refit of our shelves' (in tiny letters) was an annual joke.

Anonymous said...

I also have an issue with how they are disposing or rather not disposing of their rubbish which is left rotting in the Courtyard behind the building.

In addition they have added onto a listed building three hefty extractor type fans splurting out goodness knows what and they have only not gotten around to applying for retrospective planning!

Tescos - you have the land - and more money than Caffe Nero - get on and build right on top of the Town Hall - see how they like it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this - I've a keen interest in the politics of Caffe Nero stores, and not just because I used to work there (see my own blog).
Point being though - there is more to this than Caffe Nero just plonking itself on the market square (and for the record, it does look better than McGurks, the shop front is attractive, and I'd much rather have them around than another Starbucks/Costa and especially a Tesco!!).
The original Nero had to close when Waterstones on High Row closed. Whatever you think of the new Pound shop that replaced it (euuugh - WHY?) - the fact remains that Waterstones were presumably given permission to take over the Ottakars store directly opposite. Unsurprisingly, it found it couldn't support two stores so close to each other, and the one housing Nero had to go. Now that strikes me as total ineptitude on the part of Waterstones - but surely the council had some say in that too?
Given we now have three Costas and a Starbucks - I think it only fair that Nero reopened somewhere in Darlington, if only because they are the only big chain that actually makes decent coffee!

Aeres said...

I know its an old thread, but just thought you might be interested in a clip I heard today from the Radio 4 programme You and Yours. It explains a pretty similar case to this (except it's Starbucks rather than Cafe Nero and Brighton rather than Darlington) and has comments from the relevant parties in Brighton.

I was listening to it thinking 'I'm sure I've heard this before...'

Link is here: - relevant bit is at 18:40ish.