Agreements made in bid to open a Costa in Emsworth

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A TRUCE has been declared in the battle to open a Costa Coffee in a historic market town.

An application was submitted to Havant Borough Council last year to open a coffee shop in the building formerly used by Barclays Bank in High Street, Emsworth.

Many residents and local business owners were upset at the proposal – claiming it would change the town’s independent character – and they vowed to fight the plan.

Emsworth Business Association, Emsworth Residents’ Association and The Emsworth Forum were working together to oppose the application, however they released a joint statement tonight saying they would not object to the plans, after Costa Coffee franchisee, Premier Coffee, offered to bring in a number of community features.

These include becoming a tourist information point, setting up a reading corner and supporting apprenticeships.

Premier will also apply to join the Emsworth Business Association and make a contribution towards the town’s Christmas lights.

Alistair Gibson, vice chairman of the business association, said: ‘Although there was a clear majority of people opposing the proposal, there were also many residents and business who felt that Costa would be of benefit to Emsworth, which has meant the last six weeks have not been without some strong feelings on both sides.’

He said that numerous meetings took place in which they were told there are no valid planning grounds for the application to be refused based on current planning legislation.

As such the groups will not be making a deputation at the development management committee on Thursday when the plans will be finally decided by the council.

Mr Gibson added: ‘Premier Coffee has said they want to be involved with the local community and they have listened to concerns that were raised.

‘While not agreeing to act on all these concerns, they have – to their credit – suggested a number of proposals, which they hoped would help ease the feeling of opposition.’

He said that Premier had also agreed to reduce its number of seats from the initially proposed 93 to 68.