Cafe Society




Costa Coffee opened up their coffee shop in Rayleigh High Street without getting planning permission for a change of use from ‘retail’ to’mixed use’ . So they are applying now, retrospectively.

Officers are recommending approval. As councillors we will of course judge this on its planning merits. However we’d be interested in your comments on the effect this sort of cafe will have on High Street trade.

Is the loss of any retail premises a bad thing, and to be opposed?

Or if people are going out to buy, say, shower gel, will this encourage them to have a latte and then buy their shower gel from Boots or Superdrug, rather than go out-of-town to a supermarket?

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  • Chris, Is this a growing trend, to build retail outlets, supermarkets or even housing under an original planning application and then apply retrospectively for a change in permission? If it is a growing trend, it either displays a lack of purpose in the original plan or a devious way of getting what the retailer, supermarket or builder wants. Recently we have seen this with ASDA, housing and now Costa Coffee. It appears that a precedent has been set that allows all comers to apply reprospectively and it will be passed by the powers that be. I would be interested to know how many applications for retrospective planning / use has been turned down as opposed that those that have been passed. Do you think our state of the art systems in Planning department would be able to give us those figures?

  • You can just about do anything without getting planning permission first.

    BUT if you don’t have planning permission, you run the risk of the local planning authority (in this case Rochford DC) starting enforcement action. Ultimate sanctions are demolition or “Stop Notices”.

    I suspect that in this case the planners were aware of what was happening, have approached Costa and we and as a result we now have the planning application.

    Incidentally this one is on the ‘yellow list’ – it won’t come before councillors unless a member calls it in.

  • Given the track record of RDC planning dept I have no confidence whatsoever that they could mount an effective retrospective challenge involving large corporations who can afford £1000 a day QC’s. We all remember how Wal Mart / ASDA ran rings around them last time.

    Having said that I think the new Costa’s is great and so do lots of other people judging by the numbers that use it. I am sure that these folks also spend money while they are in the High Road in other shops ( I do ) so it‘s a win-win.

    I think we also have to be aware that we do not allow too many coffee shops / bars etc as the balance tips from daytime retail to eating / drinking and night time activity ( just look at Brentwood High Street to see what I mean )

  • Not at all impressed with Costas – their coffee prices rose from £1.85 to £2.05 for a very small cappuccino within days of opening and this seemed to co-incide with the closing of Baker’s Oven.

    Better coffee in the BO for £1.50 too – will be interesting to see where loyalties lie once BO re-opens this weekend?

  • If you’re out and about on Saturdays, you can get a free hot drink and a free smile to go with it from the lovely Bruce & co near the Millenium Clock.

  • Mmmm – I went the Bakers Oven once, I did not know which was covered in the most crust, the bread, the floor or the customers…..Costa’s here I come.

  • I prefer to give my custom to Squires.
    Mind you, the Pecan pie in ‘Crave’ is rather delicious.

    Re Costa Coffee. it would haev been better to have a non-High St chain retail shop but this type of establishment is unfortunately an endangered species.

  • I think Costa Coffee was an excellent idea, Rayleigh needed a bit of class. Although their prices could have paid for a larger premises. Bakers Oven have a long way to go to match Costa’s popularity.

  • Speaking as a non-coffee drinker, I think before Costa’s arrived there were still loads of places for users of Rayleigh high street to get a coffee and a cake – be it existing big brands such as Bakers Oven or the local independents such as Bentleys and Squires. I don’t think Costa Coffee was necessary in Rayleigh, and it will just encourage other big brands to move in too. If we’re going to have big brands can we have ones with more common appeal, say WHSmith for example? Please, don’t let us accidentally gain a Starbucks too. I personally had much more use for “Choices” – the previous occupants of the site – for video and game rental and purchase – now there’s very little, if any, competition for Blockbuster which could ust encourage prices rises there too.
    I dont think Costa’s will encourage many people to go up to Rayleigh for stuff they could just pick up in the supermarket, especially as many supermarkets now have their own coffee shops anyway! If i’m in Rayleigh and want a bit of cake, i’ll still go into Bakers Oven or Grouts every time!

  • I have to say that personally, I find the shopping experience in Rayleigh pitiful. We are not by any means a small town, yet the High Street has little to offer shoppers.

    We are an enviable position where we are en route to one of the most popular day trip destinations in Essex. If we could encourage some of that trade to pass through Rayleigh on their way there and back, what a boost to the local economy that would be. But are we going to do it with the High Street as is? NO!

    What is needed is a department store, a few chain stores such as WHS, but also, we do need to adopt the cafe culture that is seen elsewhere – go into Chelmsford and show me an empty table outside Starbucks in the summer, there isn’t one – it goes to show that this type of franchise is desired by the general populus.

    Chelmsford is a hive of activity, OK it is the capital town, but Southend isn’t, yet that draws in the crowds for shopping despite extortionate parking prices. Even Witham now offers a reasonable shopping experience despite the lack of department store, but now offers two shopping precincts and a good high street – one of which was built by demolishing the tesco store and various other buildings and utilitising waste land. As a child (growing up in Witham) the only reason to go into town on a Saturday was for the small market. Where is the market in Rayleigh, or a once a months Farmers market selling local produce, again another boost to local economy?

    So Rayleigh Town Council, what are you going to do to ensure that your residents don’t go elsewhere to do their shopping? Furthermore, what are you going to do to encourage out of towners to come into town to do their shopping.

  • FWIW, I have just started drafting my sermon for Mothering Sunday (next Sunday, 2 March!) at St Nicholas, Rawreth. In it, I cite the business plan and key observations of the founding CEO of Starbucks. I wanted to find a way to talk about the importance of places like coffee shops (or pubs!), places which are neither ‘home’ nor ‘work’. It is my passionate view that church should be the quintessence of such ‘third places’ in our lives. It is to be celebrated that some are, and to be regretted that some are just so damn boring and unimaginative!
    Watch this space!…

  • I’m currently logged in at ” Brumwells ” in Rayleigh High Street which opened last Tuesday as a Bagel / Coffee / Internet Cafe.

    They do a rather good hazelnut latte.

    The cafe culture seems to be developing….!

  • That’s good news! I like a nice bagel! 🙂

    I’m also a Costa Coffee fan – don’t like coffee but they also do good green tea!

    Now all we need are some decent shops…starting with a book shop please!!!

    Any news on the possible Pedestrianisation of the High Street?

  • TWR, can I recommend the nice little bookshop in Rochford? There’s a mixture of new and secondhand , you get a friendly welcome and it deserves local support.

    Though it’s so small I nearly wrote ‘tiny’ rather than ‘little’.

    (if every council officer in Rochford bought a book there that would be tremendous!)

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