Plans for a new High Street coffee shop next door to an existing cafe have been approved at Chislehurst, despite more than 100 objections from residents.
The application to convert the former CrossEyes optometry store was approved by members of Bromley Council’s planning sub-committee earlier this month.
It came despite 129 objections from local residents being raised, with the vast majority rallying against granting permission for the new store because of its permission next door to the popular Chestnut Cafe.
“The last thing we need on the High Street is another coffee shop,” one message lodged with the council read.
Another wrote it was “appalling” that a cafe would be allowed to open next door to the Chestnut cafe and raised fears that the new shop would take trade away from the existing shop.
Alongside their anger though was some support for the proposal, with 31 messages in favour of the project received by the council.
Among them was Alison Stammers, writing on behalf of resident’s group The Chislehurst Society.
While she said the society had acknowledged the many responses voicing concerns for the neighbouring cafe and had “great sympathy” for that view, they felt the new business would further develop the High Street’s “emerging cafe culture”.
“As a Town Team, we are always striving to get the right mix for the High
Street but that is far from straightforward and frankly not in our power,” she wrote.
“High Streets are changing rapidly and we, like High Streets up and down the country, struggle to attract retail outlets at all to our High Street and the current coronavirus pandemic is not helping one bit.
“At a time when the economy is in a nosedive, we are pleased that we are still attracting quality, independent businesses to our High Street and not having long term empty shops.”
In the end, councillors backed the recommendation to approve the project – agreeing the new plans wouldn’t harm the character of the Chislehurst Conservation Area and wouldn’t result in an “over concentration” of cafes in the area.