Pret’s expansion ‘would not harm vitality’ of city centre, planning officers say

An illustration of the proposed change of land use at 81-82 East Street. Planning application document 17/03164/FUL. SUS-171117-155040001
An illustration of the proposed change of land use at 81-82 East Street. Planning application document 17/03164/FUL. SUS-171117-155040001

Pret a Manger is set to have its expansion bid approved, despite concerns over the city’s retail balance.

The chain wants to take over the ground-floor space left by jewellery shop Pia to extend its sandwich shop.

Chichester District Council’s planning committee has been advised to accept the plans, which will breach planning policy limits on non-retail shop use.

The policy says that shopping frontage for non-retail shops must not exceed 25 per cent in the central streets.

Officers have argued that the breach will ‘not materially harm the vitality of Chichester’.

The same argument was put forward by planning officers approving Caffé Nero’s second shop in North Street last year.

Confusingly, Pret has been operating to date under a retail permit for its East Street unit, instead of mixed retail and café use as for similar coffee shops.

The expansion application led to scrutiny from planning officers, who noted the shop had a ‘significant’ seating area of approximately 85 covers over two floors and enforcement action may be required to review the current use.

Chichester District Council has been asked for comment.