OWNERS of independent coffee shops and tea-rooms in Cirencester have expressed concerns about a planning application for a new branch of national chain Coffee #1.

If approved, the proposed coffee shop would be developed on the site formerly occupied by men’s clothing retailer Jack Russell at 12 Castle Street, close to the town’s main square.

Anne Rainy-Brown, owner of Jack’s Coffee Shop on Black Jack Street, said the chain would threaten the town’s independent cafes. “We are still in a recession and it’s not fair that such huge competition is being forced upon independent shops,” she said.

Cirencester is already home to several coffee giants, including Starbucks and Caffe Nero in Market Place and Costa Coffee on Cricklade Street.

Anne collected 151 signatures on a petition opposing the development of any further national or multinational coffee chains in the town. The petition was submitted to Cotswold District Council last week, along with seven other objections from local residents.

Paul Hinsley, owner of Café Mosaic, said he believed there were enough coffee shops in Cirencester. “It’s not a new product and it would not add anything to the town,” he said. “Eventually you reach saturation point and local businesses start to die.”

Other owners said they were not worried by the proposals. Nick Blades, owner of Blades Café, said: “We are confident enough in our own brand not to worry too much about what anyone else is doing.”

Building work has already begun at the proposed site within the former Post Office building, which links Castle Street and Black Jack Street. Bob McNally, a spokesman for Cotswold District Council, said the planning application was still being considered. 

“The planning officer will be consulting soon with the ward members to discuss the best option for deciding the application,” he said. “The applicant has been advised that works undertaken before the applications have been determined are done so entirely at their own risk. We are monitoring the situation in relation to any potential enforcement issues.”

Coffee #1 currently has 22 stores across the South West and Wales, with a several more in development. The company has won the Café Society’s Best UK Coffee Chain award four years in a row.