An extension to Pret a Manger’s Chichester store has been approved despite breaching a limit set on non-shopping units.
The national chain is looking to take over the ground-floor space in East Street left by jewellery shop Pia.
Chichester District Council’s policy says shopping frontages for non-retail shops must not exceed 25 per cent in the central streets. Currently this stands at 24.94 but Pret’s expansion would bring the percentage to 25.52.
However, a change from A1 to a mixed A1/A3 use was granted by the council’s planning committee yesterday (Wednesday) by seven votes to four.
It was suggested the increase was marginal but Chichester West councillor Richard Plowman called on the council to ‘draw a line in the sand’.
He argued the city had an oversupply of coffee shops in the area, adding: “What is the point of setting a limit if you go over it?”
Westbourne’s Mark Dunn added: “I think we should stick to the limit. If this goes through we are quite pushed to fight off any others.”
However, the majority of committee members backed Pret’s expansion.
Chichester East’s Jane Kilby said it was hard to object to this application but added: “The coffee shop has reached the point of enough is enough and we have reached that saturation point.”
Julie Tassell, who represents Funtington, said: “There’s nothing worse in my mind than seeing empty shops. We have a lot of towns in this area where they are hopelessly empty.”
Sidlesham councillor Tricia Tull added: “We are going to have to be realistic and accept that people are not shopping in the town in physical shops in the same way they used to.”
The extra space would allow Pret to increase its covers by 46 to a total of 131.
An officers’ report explained the changes ‘would not materially harm the vitality of Chichester’s primary shopping frontage’.
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