A town centre shop manager has opposed proposals to convert his Cambridge Street shop into a Pret a Manger cafe.
The cafe deli chain have applied for planning permission to convert the Dorothy Perkins and Burton store on one of Harrogate’s main shopping streets into a cafe.
This comes just months after Costa coffee opened a second branch in Harrogate on Beulah Street and Cafe Nero opened a second town centre branch on Cambridge Crescent, leaving retailers questioning if there are too many coffee shops in Harrogate.
“It is hard enough in retail at the moment,” said Burton and Dorothy Perkins store manager Tim Moorhouse who has worked at the store for over 20 years.
“We’re getting killed by the internet and now this. I just don’t see the need for another coffee shop on this street, it is one of the main shopping streets.”
The lease on the premises is not up for renewal for another year - however developers Savills have applied to Harrogate Borough Council for planning permission to change the use from purely retail, to retail (sandwich shop) and cafe.
In their application material Savills say the primary function of the unit will be as a sandwich shop, but added: “Pret A Manger also provide a number of seats which enables shoppers to have a brief est bite from shopping without needing to leave the area, which encourages the public to remain in the area for longer periods of time.
“Pret A Manger are confident that their operation would enhance the vitality and viability of the area due to the number of customers it draws.”
Not everyone agrees and comments submitted on the application online suggest that residents think there are too many cafes in the town centre.
Rebecca Holgate commented: “Sooner or later Harrogate town centre will be made up of only coffee shops, the point of a coffee shop usually, is for a break from shopping. With no shops, people will have no need to visit the town centre and travel to other places like Leeds for their shopping.”
Laura Livingstone added: “Harrogate is already saturated with coffee shops, people come into town to go shopping not for a coffee.”
Will Rimell, associate at Savills has responded to concerns voiced online and said a recent survey has shown that branded coffee shops can increase high street footfall by up to 28 per cent.
Mr Moorhouse remains unconvinced. He said: “I don’t think he realises how many coffee shops and cafe’s there already are in Harrogate, We are saturated with them. They are taking over the high street, retailers are finding it hard enough in the current economic climate.
“After the Tour de France we will attract more visitors into the town to help boost our economy, but there won’t be any shops for them, just cafes.”
The final deadline to comment on the plans on the council’s planning website is August 1.
Visit http://uniformonline.harrogate.gov.uk/ and search reference number: 14/02490/COU to view the plans.