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The city that never sleeps

Chichester city centre has seen a huge rise in the number of cafes and coffee shops and it’s on the increase.


A report carried out by the Chichester Post found approximately 61 places to buy a coffee in North Street, East Street, South Street, West Street and roads immediately leading off them.


Some chain coffee shops also have two branches and there is a mix of both independents and groups.


The list includes nine cafes or coffee shops in South Street and its adjoining roads, eight pubs or bars and five restaurants.


In East Street and its adjoining roads there were 12 cafes or coffee shops, two restaurants and two pubs.


Josh Broome, from Pagham, said he felt there were too many coffee shops in the city centre. He said: “Isn’t there a set percentage of how many you are allowed?


“There’s a lot of places closing and I heard Next is going too, Since growing up, I lived in Chichester and have seen it change.


“With shops like David Messam, the hardware store, there were little friendly shops where you can walk in and have a conversation.


“The only reason I come into Chichester now is the bank or to get something to eat. I don’t really do any shopping here.


“I very rarely come shopping here now. The Riders Guild bike shop came second best bike shop but lack of footfall has seen it close and now has a planning application for a coffee shop.


“If I go shopping for clothes, I’d go online, to Gunwharf, Brighton or Southampton.


“There is so little choice for men’s clothing in Chichester.”


Many shops along the four main streets of Chichester are vacant now and some have planning applications in to change the use from retail to restaurants


A huge rise in online shopping habits have seen a decline in the high street across the UK but some business owners in Chichester blame high rates and rents and a lack of footfall.


Philip Jull who owns The Pass Street Food Cafe in Rutland Way off South Street said he was more concerned about the number of shops closing in general.


He said: “I don’t have a big opinion on the number of coffee shops because I am not coffee focused, what I do is more unique here.


“We are more street food takeaway but I think the people of Chichester want to use independent businesses and I think that’s why the Coffee Lab round the corner does so well really.


“I took this building on because it’s not rateable due to the square footage. If I was going to look up in the high street I’d be looking at about £20,000 a year.


“My business has grown from an existing one as we have a trailer and the brand has come from that and Deliveroo has been brilliant.


“I think South Street is the hub of catering in Chichester. I think the council, or whoever makes the decisions should be much more conscious about the way the high street is going, it’s a place to come and have a coffee.


“There are no home stores, they are all in the big business parks on the outside, so you are drawing it away.


“This is not unique to Chichester, I know Brighton is the same.


“North Lanes which was a tourist attraction and full on independent is slowly slipping away. It’s all changed there now.”


According to documents, non-retail uses in the city centre already exceed the 25 per cent threshold and further non-retail changes of use could harm the viability and vitality of the city centre contrary to Policy 27 of the Local Plan.


A package of support is currently being introduced by Chichester District Council to help support local retailers, as part of its commitment to support the high street.


A new events programme, a bid to the Government’s High Streets Fund, improved planning guidance, marketing training, enabling grants and a shop-front grant programme are all part of the support from the council.


Kieran Parkinson, manager of cocktail bar, The Rocking Horse in South Street said he was pleased with the number of restaurants in the area as it was good for business.


he said: “We are lacking in the amount of clothing shops available to us here but then the more restaurants they are building is better for me. It will bring a lot more custom to Chi which is good for this business.


“I think it’s good how many pubs and bars there are here.”


Kieran who lives in the district said he wouldn’t come shopping in Chichester though and instead he would go online or Portsmouth.


But for business he said he was in a prime place, “We are in a really good location here. South Street is the busiest street. There isn’t much competition either because we are completely different from the other businesses nearby, we offer something unique.”


Mayor of the city, Cllr Richard Plowman said: “My current count is 82 if you add all the ones in the other retail shops such as M&S  and some other shops such as Pret-a-Manger and Greggs which are classified as retail although their sales are mainly coffee.


“My view as mayor is we have to make sure we have a good mix of variety of shops, cafe and restaurants to ensure a vibrant city centre.


“There are parts of the city where there is a good mixture such as  around Eastgate but even that could not sustain the excellent independent coffee shop Attibassa (Forum).


“I love coffee but simply there are too many coffee shops to be sustainable and always the primary victims are the independents. Where would Chichester  be without Fenwick’s  in the park, St Martin’s Tea Rooms, Little London restaurant,  Luckes, the wonderful Exclusive cake company and many other independents.


“They offer something different and unique but will always struggle against the chain coffee shops. In the new Chichester neighbourhood plan there is an opportunity to get the balance right and protect our independents.”

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