Tuesday, 31 May 2011

What is the future of coffee shops on our high streets?

A debate has sprung up about coffee shops. Do we have too much caffeine in our lives? When is the tipping point for the West End cafe culture? Can you have too many cafes in the Byres Road area?

Well, it would seem that the threat to a vibrant local cafe scene comes when the smaller independent outlets are not able to compete with the multi-nationals. If this happens, the high street can take on the appearance of a clone town. The main suppliers of coffee will generally be the same whichever town or city you live in. 

A distinctive cafe culture developed by independent entrepreneurs has the potential to wither away especially in the current economic climate. 

There are a number of vacant shop units within Byres Road Town Centre and currently, interest is being expressed in extending the provision of cafes. One premises to highlight is the former clothing and sports shop on Great George Street. It is proposed for a new cafe accommodating 15 tables internally. Local independent retailers and cafes are fearful of the implications of this development for their business.

Vacant shop unit at 170-174 Great George Street

I would like to see this shop unit retained use as Class 1 retail only. Another clothes shop would be preferable. We must protect and promote Byres Road town centre and local independent shops. Any proposals have to support the policies of City Plan 2, SC2 - Policy objectives for Tier  1 and 2 Town Centres, as well as, SC7 - Protection and promotion of local shopping centres and local shops.

In the Byres Road Town Centre, the proportion of ground floor units operating within a use class other than Class 1 shops exceeds the 20% total for a Tier 2 centre and this proposal for change of use cannot be considered favourably.

Useful links:

City Plan 2 - http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/en/Business/CityPlan/

Clone Town Britain 2010 - http://www.neweconomics.org/press-releases/clone-town-britain-2010-high-street-diversity-still-on-endangered-list

Update on 23rd July 2011: The application has been withdrawn and refused.

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