'Why we want to open a Costa in Keynsham'

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By BeckyFeather | Monday, October 01, 2012, 11:43

The couple who hope to open a Costa Coffee in Keynsham have defended their plans which have come in for a barrage of criticism.

Today is the closing date for comments on Stuart and Lynn Montgomery's application to Bath & North East Somerset Council to change the use of the former Clinton Cards shop in the High Street to a coffee shop.

There have been many comments sent to the council, with the general feeling being that Keynsham is already awash with cafes and coffee shops and does not need any more.

Among the critics is Keynsham Civic Society which says it "objects to the loss of one of the larger High Street retail premises. It is imperative that this establishment should be available to the kind of shopkeeper who will purvey the goods that the local people need and require".

The Montgomerys, who run the South West Coffee franchise and operate several Costa branches in Bristol, say they "care passionately about local communities, staff and most importantly customers".

Also springing to their defence is the owner of the empty shop who says that many of the objectors are not Keynsham people and that he has not received approaches from other retailers to take over the large centrally located shop.

Mr Montgomery said: "My wife and I are the owners and operators of South West Coffee. We are a local Bristol couple whom have decided to put our savings and hard work into operating a Costa Coffee franchise business.

"Many of the comments suggest people believe this is going to be a Costa/Whitbread owned shop which it is not, just two local Bristol people working hard to make their and the lives around them better.

"We care passionately about our local commuities, staff and most importantly customers so much so that we have just won the UK Costa Coffee Franchise of the Year Award for two years in a row.

"We have been trying to secure a shop in Keynsham for over four years and are now delighted that shall be able to offer the very best service to our new customers in Keynsham and aim to become an active and generous member of the Keynsham community."

David Marks, MD of Altrincham-based Mutley Properties, which owns the unit along with several others on that side of the High Street, commented: "Whilst the objections (many of which are not made by Keynsham residents) are of an emotive nature, the council will be considering the application on planning grounds only."

He added: "We have not received approaches from other retailers, knowing that the unit was vacant, willing/able to afford trading from a unit of this size."

Mr Marks also said his firm, owning other properties nearby, had a "vested interest in maintaining a healthy High Street" and were therefore keen to attract a "high quality tenant such as this".

He said it would help to bring footfall between Tesco and the proposed new development at the other end of town.

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