Caffe Nero criticised as planning war intensifies

Caffe Nero in Knaresborough Market Place.  (121219M4b)

Caffe Nero in Knaresborough Market Place. (121219M4b)

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Coffee shop giant Caffe Nero has been accused of “playing the system” and ignoring planning laws in a battle over their newly opened Knaresborough branch.

The global chain, which opened without planning permission in Knaresborough in December, has now withdrawn its appeal and put in a fresh application for the site – a process often cheaper than the appeals procedure.

President of the town’s Chamber of Trade Maurice Bardon said his fellow members are frustrated by Caffe Nero’s manouverings.

“We would like to see all businesses trade legally,” he said.

Without any “change of use” planning permission on the site, Caffe Nero can only operate as a takeaway shop, not a cafe, without breaking the law.

And many Chamber of Trade members are uncertain whether Caffe Nero’c current operation is, in fact, a takeaway and not a cafe and are calling for action against the global company.

“The members view it as a cafe, and that’s why we want enforcement action.”

The Chamber is also frustrated with Harrogate Borough Council’s failure to crack down on the company so far.

“The council has told us they understand Caffe Nero is going to submit another application.

“But is is not in the public interest for the council to second guess what a company is doing.

“In the meantime, they should have followed their own practices on enforcement action.”

And Knaresborough’s MP Andrew Jones has added his voice to the concerns about company’s behaviour, and called for them to abide by the law.

Mr Jones said: ““As with all planning permission cases, it is very important that the same rules apply to a large corporation as they would with a local resident and that those rules are applied and followed.

“These rules are put in place to ensure fairness to everyone and in the case of Caffe Nero, if any future application is rejected, the company should respect that decision.”

The original “change of use” planning application which would have allowed Caffe Nero to convert the former Clintons Cards shop into a cafe was refused in December, on the same day coffee shop opened.

Caffe Nero launched an appeal against the decision, later withdrawn and a HBC spokesman a revised “change of use” planning application was submitted on April 11.

Representatives from Caffe Nero did not respond to the Post’s requests for comment.