ANOTHER Costa coffee shop could be coming to Reading, after plans were submitted to set up at a former bank and luggage store in the town centre.

The unit at 99 Broad Street is set to become the fourteenth Costa Coffee in Reading and the fourth in the town centre.

Recently home to Nationwide Building Society, the bank left this location and the unit was temporarily operated as a luggage and clothing shop.

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Costa has asked estate agents Savills to apply to the council on its behalf for permission for the site to become a coffee shop.

There are currently 13 Costas in Reading, with three of them in the town centre and the rest spread across the town.

Why does Costa need to make a planning application?

Planning permission was granted in 2003 for the sub-division of the property into two units, the former Nationwide unit on Broad Street and a smaller unit on Chain Street.

Planning officers stipulated the Broad Street unit must be restricted to use as a bank or building society only within class A2.

Savills says it is likely that the condition’s intention was to prevent the unit from being used for other uses in Class A2 such as a pawn brokers or betting office, which were recently moved to another class.

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In September 2020, new regulations came into force which triggered wholesale changes to the structure of the ‘use classes’, meaning both the existing permitted use (bank or building society) and the coffee shop use planned fall within Class E.

Normally, planning permission would not be required for the change of use of a unit within the same class but National Planning Policy Guidance states: “The recent regulations do not override any existing planning conditions or planning obligation which specifically prohibits a new use.”

Therefore, Savills is applying for the planning to be amended “to avoid any doubt over the ability to occupy the premises as a coffee shop”.

Nick Heard, a senior planner at Savills, states in a letter to the council: “Occupation of the unit by Costa as a coffee shop will be highly beneficial.

“Costa will take a long-term lease, investing in providing a high quality fit out.

“Between 12 and 18 jobs will be provided at the store whilst additional supply chain jobs will be enhanced.

“Costa coffee shops are proven to generate high levels of footfall, increase dwell time, and ultimately have a beneficial impact on viability and vitality.”