PLANS for coffee chain Costa to open in an award-winning high street have sparked uproar.
The move has infuriated residents and businesses in Emsworth who fear the shop would compromise the town’s independent character.
I’m vehemently against having a Costa or any major retailer. This is a small town of independent traders with a very special atmosphereShirley Farmer
In 2014 Emsworth was named winner in the Harvest Heroes category of British Food Fortnight – with its abundance of independent shops and cafes cited as one of the reasons.
Costa has applied to Havant Borough Council to change the use of the now-empty Barclays bank building.
There are already seven cafes and restaurants in the small high street.
A petition has been started appealing to the CEO of Costa directly to reconsider the plans.
Shirley Farmer, who lives in the town centre, said: ‘I’m vehemently against having a Costa or any major retailer.
‘This is a small town of independent traders with a very special atmosphere.’
Liz Waite, 34, of North Street, said: ‘It’s a very bad idea.
‘The only chains we have here are charity shops and a bank.
‘Costa will totally ruin the atmosphere around here.’
And Heidi Elliott, owner of Heidi’s Patisserie, fears for her business.
She said: ‘We have already experienced Costa coming in to locations where we are and, certainly for the smaller independents, it has a big impact.
‘For us it has been a negative impact in Petersfield, Cosham and Southsea.’
She added: ‘Emsworth is our flagship store and if our turnover went down by 10 per cent we would be in quite a precarious position.’
Costa is the UK’s largest coffee shop chain with about 2,000 coffee shops.
But not everyone is against the plans.
Peter Cole, the owner of The Newsagent, in St Peter’s Square, said: ‘I would rather have something in there and the shop being used than it standing empty.’
The News asked Costa to comment but it did not reply in time for publication.
The deadline for representations is January 15. Sign the petition at chn.ge/1TH4Kox
Cafe’s impact on village was less than feared
WHEN Costa announced its plan to open a coffee shop in Stubbington there was widespread opposition.
Residents and business owners feared it would destroy the local feel to the high street and affect established businesses.
Scores of people signed a petition against the proposals for the village, in 2014.
But, almost two years on, the village has not seen knock-on effects that were predicted.
Councillor Chris Wood, who represents Stubbington on Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘The majority of people, including me, were against it.
‘But existing businesses have survived and it’s brought more people into the village.’