I wish to object to the granting of planning permission for the change of use from A1 to A3 by Café Nero.
As a resident of the High Street I am concerned that Café Nero seem to have got away with changing the use of the retail premises in the centre of the High Street without waiting for planning consent.
Whilst preparing for this meeting I have noted that a possible reason for declining a planning application is that it contradicts Government advice. I suggest that Café Nero’s actions mean that they have failed to abide by the Localism Act 2011, the provisions of which came into force on 15th November 2011. Café Nero started their building work on 24th April 2012, so surely they are subject to the Act; in particular to section 122, which requires that they hold a pre-application consultation with those in the vicinity of their business. No such consultation appears to have taken place, and therefore, I suggest that not only has Café Nero’s behaviour contravened Government advice ‘that local people should have greater input into the planning process’ but they have also contravened law.
So, if they are allowed to do this what is to stop anyone else coming in and doing the same thing? This is a café – would you like a lap-dancing club or perhaps a sex shop to open? What is to stop them if the planning process is now allowed to be ignored?
We have more than 20 coffee shops and cafes in the town, all of whom waited patiently for their planning permission before going ahead with their businesses.
I’d like to make a further point. Chain retailers such as Café Nero push out the independents that are providing the very environment that make Marlborough High Street an attractive destination for visitors. We are in danger of becoming just like every other town centre. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of Mary Portas’ efforts in this regard.
Our Town Council have voted and spoken out against this planning application and I urge you to support them. Whilst I understand that you may find turning down a large organisation such as Café Nero unpalatable, I do think that you should look to the future and the precedent that you are setting if you fail to support the Town Council’s decision. Confidence in the planning process and the ability of Wiltshire Council to effectively deal with situations such as this rely on the decision that you take today.
After all, we need our Council to be able to stop the arrival of that lap-dancing club!
I request that an Enforcement Order is made against Café Nero requiring them to carry out the consultation that is specified by Section 122 of the Localism Act and that they cease trading whilst this is undertaken.