RESIDENTS in North Berwick have raised concerns over a proposed Costa Coffee shop coming to the town.

A planning application was submitted to East Lothian Council last month for a change of use at 17 Market Place from a retail unit to a coffee shop.

Costa are understood to be behind the plans, which list proposed opening hours of 6am-11pm.

Those times, and the mention of outdoor seating in the application, have been met with some concern from neighbours.

Julie Scanlon, who lives directly above the proposed coffee shop, told a meeting of North Berwick Community Council that the opening hours were “a big concern”.

She said: “The noise level is a problem and so are deliveries – what time are they coming in and whereabout?”

The problem of parking spaces for the coffee shop were also highlighted, while Lorraine Skeene, another local resident, also suggested there might be problems with youths gathering at the coffee shop late in the evening.

“They will gather there and it is right across from the youth cafe [held in the Hope Rooms on Forth Street],” she said.

“It’s going to cause a lot of noise but it’s also going to affect the work being done by the youth cafe.”

Community councillors offered varying opinions on the matter, with Tommy Todd saying he did not have a problem with the opening time of 6am. He said: “Golfers, or even just visitors to the town, are sometimes wandering about [at that time] asking where they can get something for their breakfast.”

Peter Hamilton disagreed and said that “the town was still sleeping” at 6am while Olwyn Owen said the proposed opening times were “a worry”.

The group discussed the issue at length and the discussion even prompted Bill Macnair, member, to ask to be excused from the debate.

He was critical of the community council’s discussion on the merits of Costa specifically, rather than just the merits of the planning application.

Members were concerned other businesses might be adversely affected but Mr Macnair said that that was not a matter for the group, whom he said had “entered into the realms of fantasy” before leaving the room.

He returned following the discussion but said that “market forces” meant that the town centre was “always changing” and that the number of coffee shops already in the town showed there was a demand, both from locals and visitors.

Ian Watson, a long-serving NBCC member, agreed and added: “We have to stick to planning applications. We do not have the influence to make a difference to this [make-up of town centre shops].”

Jim Goodfellow, ward councillor, attempted to give the community council a steer on the issue.

He said: “The community council seems to be differentiating between national and local businesses and I can think of local businesses on High Street which were national business so it goes both ways. The planning application is for the building and will be considered on its own merits.”

Concerns over the impact on businesses were not shared by Adam Elder, who runs whynot? on High Street, who said his business offered customers a “pretty unique experience”.

The community council agreed to write a letter voicing concerns over the proposed coffee shop but said it would not be supporting or objecting to the proposals.

Costa had not provided a comment at the time of going to press.