A £200,000 Costa coffee shop that divided opinion has finally opened.
Jazz music from a live band echoed through Emsworth as the large coffee shop opened in the former Barclays bank, in High Street.
The prospect of a national coffee chain opening in the historic square provoked fierce debate earlier this year.
Havant Borough Council, which approved the opening, received 114 written objections and 27 letters in favour.
Many said it would threaten the town’s independent character.
But all that controversy seemed to fade today as the cafe was filling up with coffee-lovers since opening its doors at 6am.
One of the first customers was Robert Crook, 55, who had just stepped off a boat from France.
Mr Crook, who used to live in Emsworth, said: ‘I had to get here very early and it’s a great thing it was open so early.
‘It was a life-saver.
‘I think it’s a great addition to Emsworth.
‘It’s another quality coffee shop.’
Jean Roberts-Jones, 60, from Chandler’s Ford, was happy sipping her coffee and reading a book.
She said: ‘It’s lovely.
‘Emsworth is a delightful place to come and visit, especially on a sunny day.
‘A place like Emsworth has the best of both -–nationals and independents.
‘People understand what Costa offers.
‘But equally you have the quirky little shops that have that local feel.’
The ribbon to open the shop was cut by Councillor Leah Turner, the Mayor of Havant borough.
Emsworth Business Association had initially strongly objected to the cafe, but backed down when the chain offered to bring in a number of community features, including contributing towards the town’s Christmas lights.
Robin Arkle, managing director of Premier Coffee, a Southampton-based Costa franchisee, said the cafe has created jobs for eight local people.
He added: ‘We have opened in similar towns across the south and we bring more people into the town which will hopefully benefit other local businesses as well.’