After months of ‘flouting the law’ Caffe Nero has been granted planning permission for its cafe in Knaresborough’s Market Place.
Harrogate Borough Council has changed its decision after initially refusing to grant planning permission for a change of use from shop to cafe in December 2012.
On Monday, June 3, the planning department granted permission on a near identical application from Caffe Nero.
Local businessman Colin Bonney said: “This is a real kick in the teeth for Knaresborough independent traders.
“Nothing has changed since the first application so the original decision should have stood. The council need to explain themselves, they have let Knaresborough down badly.”
Caffe Nero started trading in the town in December, on the same day that planning permission for the cafe was denied.
The coffee giant’s original application attracted a petition with over 2,000 signatures opposing the plans and although Caffe Nero initially appealed this application it later withdrew, reapplying on April 11.
Knaresborough Town Council strongly objected to the coffee shop’s second application, despite not having any objections first time round.
Knaresborough Town Council said: “It is wrong for this company to come in to Knaresborough and blatantly flout the law in this way.”
In December last year Gary Bell, head of planning services at Harrogate Borough Council, said: “It is considered that the loss of this prominent A1 retail unit forming part of the primary shopping frontage of Knaresborough would harm the vitality and viability of the town centre and undermine its principal retail function,” when outlining his reasons for refusal.
However in the planning decision notice published this week he said: “The use would not have any harmful impact on the vitality and viability of the shopping centre.”
Harrogate Borough Council were unavailable to comment on the dramatic change of heart.
A spokesperson from Knaresborough Chamber of Trade and Commerce said it were pleased everything is now resolved.
He said: “We welcome any investment to the town and business that fulfil a customer need.”
A spokesperson for Caffe Nero said: “We are glad that in consultation with Harrogate Borough Council we have been granted planning permission. “We hope that we can continue to serve our customers in Knaresborough and be an asset to the community.”