Decision looms over controversial Costa bid for Emsworth

The Square in Emsworth
The Square in Emsworth
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JUDGMENT day has come for whether Costa can open in Emsworth.

Councillors at Havant Borough Council have been recommended by planning officers to approve proposals to open a Costa Coffee in the former Barclay’s Bank in High Street.

The bid has attracted fierce debate, with the local business association saying it will harm the town’s independent character.

The cafe would open from 7am to 6pm daily and have 80 seats.

A total of 111 written objections have been received, with 18 in favour.

A council planning report includes a comment from the authority’s economic development team.

It states: ‘Concern that the proposal will dilute the offer in Emsworth, putting small independent businesses in extreme financial difficulty or result in closure.’

But there have also been comments to the council that Costa will regenerate the town centre and ‘halt the decline’.

The council’s planning officer Rachael McMurray concludes in her report: ‘Although the council does encourage independent local businesses within its town, district and local centres, it could not justify a refusal of the application based on the applicant being a branded company and how this might impact on local businesses.’

A decision will be made at a meeting from 5pm on Thursday at The Plaza in Havant.