Controversial Costa to open in Emsworth this weekend

The former Barclays site which is to open as Costa
The former Barclays site which is to open as Costa

Coffee chain Costa is set to open its doors at the former Barclays site on Saturday (April 30).

Plans for the new addition have sparked uproar among residents and businesses who fear the shop would compromise the town’s independent character.

A petition was started appealing to the CEO of Costa directly to reconsider.

Speaking while the plans were open for representations Heidi Elliott, owner of Heidi’s Patisserie, expressed fears for her business.

She said: ‘We have already experienced Costa coming in to locations where we are and, certainly for the smaller independents, it has a big impact.

“For us it has been a negative impact in Petersfield, Cosham and Southsea.”

She added: ‘Emsworth is our flagship store and if our turnover went down by 10 per cent we would be in quite a precarious position.’

However there was some support for Costa, the UK’s largest coffee shop chain, coming to the town.

Peter Cole, the owner of The Newsagent, in St Peter’s Square, said: ‘I would rather have something in there and the shop being used than it standing empty.’

The grand opening event on Saturday will see a jazz band perform and the mayor of Havant, councillor Leah Turner cut the ribbon.

She said: “I am delighted to be opening the new Costa coffee store here in Emsworth. The new Costa will not only create new jobs but will also provide another great reason for local people to visit our town. I wish store manager Jen Speight and her staff every success.”

The new 2,000 sq ft store is being opened by Southampton-based Costa franchisees Robin Arkle and Andy Hirst, whose company Premier Coffee already operates a number of other Costas across the region.

It will create employment and offer training for eight local people.

Some 35,000 ‘Buy One Get One Free’ vouchers have been distributed to households in and around Emsworth in the lead up to the opening.