Retrospective application for Skipton High Street business refused

A national coffee shop chain which opened a café in Skipton without permission has been accused of “bully-boy tactics” by councillors, who rejected the company’s application to continue trading.

Caffe Nero opened an outlet in Sheep Street last month before the company submitted a planning application for a change of use from an optician’s to a coffee shop.

The retrospective application was turned down by Craven District Council this week, but an appeal to the planning inspectorate would mean it could continue trading until the outcome was known, which may take several months.

At Monday's planning committee meeting, councillors unanimously refused the application and backed enforcement action, pledging to fight any appeal.

Members described the company as having a disregard for planning regulations and trying to ride rough-shod over the council’s policy, which insists approximately 80 per cent of ground-floor units in the core retail area must be shops and not cafés.

Planning officer Roger France said the policy, which had been in existence for 12 years, had ensured the town centre had not become over-run with ground-floor cafés and had helped maintain the balance which had led to it surviving previous recessions and being named High Street of the Year.

He said the policy had helped the town maintain a good mix of retail shops in the main shopping area, encouraging cafés into side streets and also above ground-level premises, which might otherwise have remained empty.

He warned that councillors should not be distracted by the retrospective nature of the application and that it should be judged on its own merits.

Mr France added that Costa Coffee, which opened on Skipton High Street following a successful appeal, had won on that occasion because the café to shop ratio had fallen below the council’s retail mix policy. But with Caffe Nero, he was confident the council would win an appeal, if the company took that route. “This town has benefited considerably from this policy. We have a much more vibrant town centre than others,” said Mr France.

Ward councillor Coun Paul Whitaker (Cons) said there had been many local people who had wanted to open coffee shops in the core retail area, but had opened in side streets instead.

“They accepted the policy and now we have Caffe Nero with its bully-boy tactics. I don’t blame people for being upset.”

Coun Paul English (Lib Dem) pointed out it was only recently that the council had reaffirmed its core retail area policy. “Without a doubt, this is something that all eight councillors in Skipton very much agree on,” he said.

Coun Ady Green (Cons) condemned Caffe Nero’s threat of appeal if its planning application was refused.

“I say bring it on if they want to appeal. Skipton High Street was High Street of the Year and these big companies need to know they can’t kick us around.”

And Coun Alan Sutcliffe (Cons) accused Caffe Nero of being “arrogant to the extreme”.

“Our policy has stood the test of time and appeal. We should not bend the rules just because of the size of the applicant,” he said.

Coun Linda Brockbank (Cons) said: “This company is a large one that should be setting an example to others. It should not have opened without planning permission.”

Caffe Nero has told the Craven Herald in the past that it was surprised by the attitude of the council and that other local authorities had welcomed a branch opening in their towns.

It added that it thought it was better to have empty premises used than left empty and pointed to the number of currently vacant units in the town.

The company offered no comment over the decision of Monday’s planning meeting.

Comments (10)

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9:05pm Thu 15 Dec 11

AlliG says...

Im just glad that its not an empty shop, or another charity shop, or phone shop, why don't they let the people of Skipton decide if they want one or not !!
Im just glad that its not an empty shop, or another charity shop, or phone shop, why don't they let the people of Skipton decide if they want one or not !! AlliG
  • Score: 0

9:09am Fri 16 Dec 11

The Yorkshireman says...

It's all media hype that we 'believe' we want a cafe nero or the likes. The little coffee shops off the High Street are far mor friendly run by local people who are happy to serve you, not students on their break trying to earn a crust.
Kick them out and lower the Rates and put a small local enterprise in there!
It's all media hype that we 'believe' we want a cafe nero or the likes. The little coffee shops off the High Street are far mor friendly run by local people who are happy to serve you, not students on their break trying to earn a crust. Kick them out and lower the Rates and put a small local enterprise in there! The Yorkshireman
  • Score: 0

10:23am Fri 16 Dec 11

Allan Whitehead says...

Councillors may be carrying out the wishes of many of the business owners strong desires to refuse, coupled with the objections of some residents.
However, This Corporation have appealed, to the faceless wonders, who may never have visited Skipton. So those objectors who are against this retrospective application being approved.

Need to put pen to paper and object to this application on genuine planning grounds. Support your Councillors and ask for the appeal to be somewhere near Skipton so you will be able to attend, and support the officer who will have to make the case for refusal.
Councillors may be carrying out the wishes of many of the business owners strong desires to refuse, coupled with the objections of some residents. However, This Corporation have appealed, to the faceless wonders, who may never have visited Skipton. So those objectors who are against this retrospective application being approved. Need to put pen to paper and object to this application on genuine planning grounds. Support your Councillors and ask for the appeal to be somewhere near Skipton so you will be able to attend, and support the officer who will have to make the case for refusal. Allan Whitehead
  • Score: 0

5:59pm Fri 16 Dec 11

Skipton Ratepayer says...

Caffe Nero have done this in at least 10 towns, and always seem to have won their case. Why should they ignore regulations, just because they are a big firm? A small, family-run business would not get away with this, so why should they? One law for the rich ...
Caffe Nero have done this in at least 10 towns, and always seem to have won their case. Why should they ignore regulations, just because they are a big firm? A small, family-run business would not get away with this, so why should they? One law for the rich ... Skipton Ratepayer
  • Score: 0

1:10pm Sat 17 Dec 11

Allan Whitehead says...

Skipton Ratepayer,
These large conglomerates think they are above the rules and regulations, of us little small type businesses. We abide by the rules for the most important reason possible.

That being it would be our capital that we would be spending if we ignored the rules. With these super style businesses, it is the companies’ money that is wasted, and those who make these decisions to buck the rules and regulation, are relying on highly paid company solicitors to find loopholes. In addition, many objections that are put forward must be genuine planning objections.

I.E. Competition is not a valid planning Objection. However, Traffic generation, or health and Safety are. Therefore, unless the Council can prove their reason for refusal is on sound planning ground, they stand a chance of losing the appeal.

If you have an irresistible desire to see this application refused, then I suggest you contact your ward Councillor, with your reasons, to see if they are valid planning objections.
Skipton Ratepayer, These large conglomerates think they are above the rules and regulations, of us little small type businesses. We abide by the rules for the most important reason possible. That being it would be our capital that we would be spending if we ignored the rules. With these super style businesses, it is the companies’ money that is wasted, and those who make these decisions to buck the rules and regulation, are relying on highly paid company solicitors to find loopholes. In addition, many objections that are put forward must be genuine planning objections. I.E. Competition is not a valid planning Objection. However, Traffic generation, or health and Safety are. Therefore, unless the Council can prove their reason for refusal is on sound planning ground, they stand a chance of losing the appeal. If you have an irresistible desire to see this application refused, then I suggest you contact your ward Councillor, with your reasons, to see if they are valid planning objections. Allan Whitehead
  • Score: 0

2:21pm Mon 19 Dec 11

weasleywez says...

I am glad to see the application has been refused!
As a local resident I like to support our local businesses as much a possible.
But I can see their point about its better than another empty unit!
but really doesn't that highlight a different problem in our town.
Its not easy to open an independent shop on our ''high street of the year'' due to the costs.
its also a case of what to sell because the market traders selling the various things our ''missing'' retail shops could sell while not having the same costs as having a shop so can sell cheaper, there is the growing trend of Charity Shops selling 'New' stock and we have a lot of charity shops!
So in conclusion I want to ask a question... If this town can't support independent shops what can we do but let these large conglomerates bully there way in???
I am glad to see the application has been refused! As a local resident I like to support our local businesses as much a possible. But I can see their point about its better than another empty unit! but really doesn't that highlight a different problem in our town. Its not easy to open an independent shop on our ''high street of the year'' due to the costs. its also a case of what to sell because the market traders selling the various things our ''missing'' retail shops could sell while not having the same costs as having a shop so can sell cheaper, there is the growing trend of Charity Shops selling 'New' stock and we have a lot of charity shops! So in conclusion I want to ask a question... If this town can't support independent shops what can we do but let these large conglomerates bully there way in??? weasleywez
  • Score: 0

5:05pm Mon 19 Dec 11

dennisnilsen says...

If only it was going to be another Bizzie Lizzies...
If only it was going to be another Bizzie Lizzies... dennisnilsen
  • Score: 0

9:35pm Mon 19 Dec 11

annoyed59 says...

Just vote with your feet
Just vote with your feet annoyed59
  • Score: 0

9:48pm Wed 21 Dec 11

justfin says...

Stupid council!

I moved away from Skipton years ago, i remember the high street died about 12 years ago and now the Tesco's expansion has put the final nail in the coffin.

Town centres are changing, they are now specialist shops, coffee shops, bars and convenience stores and banks. Retail centres are the new "high street", high streets are recreational areas.

I am glad Cafe Nero has done this, i hope they win the appeal, then the ignorant councillors may learn from their mistakes and plan to encourage the high street to be redeveloped into the social hub it needs to be, whilst keeping its history in tact.

You know, i watched a programme on telly which had a council member helping celebrate the opening of a shop that sold foreign food....seriously!

Maintain the past but get with the times!
Stupid council! I moved away from Skipton years ago, i remember the high street died about 12 years ago and now the Tesco's expansion has put the final nail in the coffin. Town centres are changing, they are now specialist shops, coffee shops, bars and convenience stores and banks. Retail centres are the new "high street", high streets are recreational areas. I am glad Cafe Nero has done this, i hope they win the appeal, then the ignorant councillors may learn from their mistakes and plan to encourage the high street to be redeveloped into the social hub it needs to be, whilst keeping its history in tact. You know, i watched a programme on telly which had a council member helping celebrate the opening of a shop that sold foreign food....seriously! Maintain the past but get with the times! justfin
  • Score: 0

9:52pm Wed 21 Dec 11

justfin says...

PS i feel sorry for the local cafes who have been forced to open on side streets, but this is the idiocy of the councillors not Caffe Nero.

I'm sorry you have lost out there due to their ignorance, but hopefully if they get permission then any expansions / moves maybe an option.
PS i feel sorry for the local cafes who have been forced to open on side streets, but this is the idiocy of the councillors not Caffe Nero. I'm sorry you have lost out there due to their ignorance, but hopefully if they get permission then any expansions / moves maybe an option. justfin
  • Score: 0

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