Wed, 21 Aug 2019
PLANNERS have approved a proposal to convert the former NatWest bank in Hungerford High Street into a Costa Coffee shop.
When the project was first revealed, it met with a mixed reaction from the public.
However, no formal letters of support or objection were registered and Hungerford Town Council’s environment and planning committee remained neutral, choosing to offer no objection, but not actively supporting the venture.
A planning officer’s report stated: “[Policy] clearly sets out that new development must demonstrate high-quality and sustainable design that respects and enhances the character and appearance of the area, and makes a positive contribution to the quality of life in West Berkshire.
“Although the application site is within the Hungerford Conservation Area and the adjacent property is a Grade II-listed building, the building is not listed and officers consider that the proposal would not have an adverse impact on the listed building or its setting... therefore, the proposal is considered not to be harmful to the character of the conservation area.”
The report goes on to acknowledge that “great weight should be given to conserving the landscape and scenic beauty in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)”.
However, it adds: “Officers consider that the proposal is acceptable and it would not have an adverse impact on the character of the rural area and the AONB.”
The proposed conversion involves the complete internal renovation of the ground floor.
The applicant, Amelio Aleio, has previously said: “A recent survey by Hungerford Town Council revealed there was a majority in favour of a branded coffee shop such as Costa when asked what was lacking in the town.
“So we’ll be providing a service for those residents. And we will be very community driven... we seek to participate in the local community.
“We will bring back a vibrancy to the High Street that may have been lacking in recent years.”
The venture is expected to provide 10 full-time jobs and also part-time employment.
Some critics of the scheme complained of too many High Street coffee outlets.
But former Hungerford Chamber of Commerce chairman Nigel Perrin posted: “Coffee shop chains bring business.”