Totnes Costa coffee shop is approved

Coffee machine - generic Totnes currently has 41 independent coffee outlets

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A national coffee chain has been given the go-ahead to open in a Devon town which prides itself on having independent shops.

South Hams District Council has approved plans by Costa Coffee to open in Fore Street, Totnes.

Mayor Pru Boswell said: "I'm an extremely cross mayor and very disappointed and upset. It's so alien to what the town's about."

Neither Costa nor South Hams District Council have commented.

The town is well-known in the South West for its "alternative" image and has a resident community of writers, therapists, musicians, and herbalists and 41 independent coffee outlets.

Ms Boswell said: "We all think this will have a terrible effect on the town. We're desperately striving here to try and keep the town as unique as we possibly can.

"We've lost the battle but whether we lose the war is another matter."

Campaign group No To Costa spent three months petitioning against the coffee shop, which will take over one of the larger retail spaces in the town.

High street balance

It gathered 5,500 signatures and protesters marched through the town to Follaton House where the planning decision was made.

No To Costa said: "Costa's disregard for local communities is in evidence around the country and today they've ignored public opinion again in Totnes, as has the council.

"This didn't need to happen. Three independents were willing to take on the lease."

It added that despite the decision, the campaign had succeeded in pulling the community together.

Previously Paul Wesley, chairman of Totnes Chamber of Commerce, said Totnes had some national stores and the chamber was not against chains like Costa, but wanted to maintain a balance in the town.

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