Fri, 19 Apr 2019
ANOTHER café is to open in Newbury despite concerns that it would jeopardise the town’s retail offering.
Food and drink operator Loungers Limited has been granted permission to turn the former River Island store in Northbrook Street into a continental-style café and bistro.
The Bristol-based company wants to create an informal, neighbourhood café feel, with longer opening hours than other outlets in the town centre.
West Berkshire Council’s approval for the scheme went against Newbury town councillors’ objections.
Town councillors had previously said that the change would be detrimental to Newbury’s shopping economy.
However, district council planners took a different view and said the new café would “promote a vibrant town centre” and was appropriate in the context of the commercial area.
The Loungers café will operate seven days a week, from 8am to 11.30pm on Sunday to Wednesday and 8am to 12.30am on Thursday to Saturday.
The eatery will offer no takeaway service and according to a design and access statement submitted by Loungers Ltd, will not play amplified music on the premises – although appropriate sound insulation measures would be fitted.
There will also be a variety of board games available, together with daily newspapers to read and a free neighbourhood book-swap facility.
At the council’s request, Loungers submitted details about the town centre’s make-up, covering 1 to 105b Northbrook Street, in December 2018.
The report said that 48 premises were classed as shops and retail, four as shop/food and drink and nine listed as other.
Approving the scheme, West Berkshire Council said the café would not result in a concentration of non-retail units in Northbrook Street, but acknowledged that new cafés and restaurants had opened within the immediate vicinity.
It said: “In addition, the opening of the Parkway development has increased the retail offer for Newbury, as a result the proposed use is considered to complement the existing wider retail offer.
“This concentration of non-A1 retail uses is however considered to be small in comparison with the wider town centre area.
“In addition it is considered that the existence of these café/restaurant uses will be driven by demand and competition in the long term.
“It is acknowledged that the proposal will result in the loss of an A1 retail use within a primary shopping frontage, however it is further considered that the proposal will have some benefits for town centre vitality and viability by promoting competitive town centres that provide a diverse customer choice of services.”