PLANS for Costa Coffee to open a new branch in Southsea have come under fire.
The chain has put up an advert offering vacancies for an assistant manager and full and part-time members of staff in Albert Road, Southsea, where Laundry Land used to be.
But locals believe it would kill the character of the street that is well-known for being a hub for independent businesses.
Melody Balchin, 53, who owns Melody’s Catering, next door to where Costa will open, said a lot of her regulars have vowed to continue visiting her cafe.
Melody said: ‘It is a shame because Albert Road is for independent businesses.
‘It’s not just me, but all of the coffee shops along here – it is a community road.
‘Costa says it is bringing new jobs to the area, but my responsibility is to make sure my staff get paid – it is big fish, little fish.
‘But I think quality and service will prevail, which I provide on my premises.’
Stephanie Lyons, 56, who works in Aurora coffee shop, said: ‘The whole ethos is that Albert Road is independent and it should stay that way.
‘It is unfair. They can pay the business rates whilst other places are struggling.’
Thizer Graham, 25, from Aurora, added: ‘The road is nice because of it being independent and it is quite rare that you would get that in the one place.’
But Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones said she welcomed the investement, which shows the confidence of a big brand wanting to put money into the area.
She said: ‘Whilst I appreciate the small independent cafes and coffee shops, it is good for traders on Albert Road that such a large brand wants to go into the area.
‘Albert Road is a vibrant part of Portsmouth and I welcome the competition.’
A spokeswoman for Costa said the new store was being opened by franchise partner Premier Coffee. It is planned to open in the spring and will create six to eight new jobs.
The spokeswoman said: ‘The store will do all it can to integrate with the local community, and is looking forward to getting involved with local events, providing the store as a meeting place for locals to meet and helping with community fundraising initiatives.’