A NEW cafe has permission in a well known city thoroughfare.

The application, made at 52 Brook Street by Mrs S Williams and Cheryl Weaver, has divided local opinion.

They told planning officers they were seeking approval for a change of use of the vacant shop, previously an Internet cafe.

It will open between 7am and 3pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 2pm on Saturdays and 10am to 2pm on Sundays, according to a report.

Planning officers initially had 14 letters, divided equally between those who support the cafe and those who object.

A further 12 then poured in, all but one backing the application.

Objectors argue there are already too many food and drink outlets in Brook Street which creates problems related to their viability.

They fear that similar businesses could close down, stifling attempts to regenerate the area and the cafe would also add to parking problems.

“We have had enough cafes, restaurants and takeaways or similar businesses,” suggests Ken's Kitchen at 40 Brook Street.

“Every time one business arrives, it doesn't bring more customers, it brings more problems.

“Existing businesses are already suffering, this new cafe will make them suffer even more.”

Strongly opposing the application, E Yarasir at the Brook Street Cafe, 69 Brook Street has told the city council: “Over the years, allowing similar businesses into Brook Street has caused a lot of hardship.”

This includes parking mayhem, he claims.

Mr Yarasir points out Brook Street already has five cafes, two local stores selling sandwiches, a bakery selling what the other cafes sell, five or six restaurants which are open at lunchtime, all apart from pubs.

“How are we supposed to make a living and flourish.

“In such a small place, how many more similar businesses can fit in and survive,” he ask.

Newton resident Brian Garnham comments: “I support this cafe because I know the two ladies who are taking it on and I know this is what Brook Street needs, a good friendly place and good food.

“The cafes that are in Brook Street now are not up to much.”

Liverpool resident Ian Westworth suggests: “This is just what Brook Street needs for the early morning trade.

“It will fit in nicely with the eating establishments which open later in the day.”

The city council recognises Brook Street as a key pedestrian route between the city centre and the railway station and seeks to enhance the street visually and as a retail centre, according to a report.

Of 52 premises on the street, 15 are pubs, restaurants or takeaways.

Eight are vacant.

With the exception of a small number of day time cafes, most of the premises are likely to be busiest at night outside normal shopping hours, suggest planners.

Pointing out that 15% of all premises on Brook Street are not occupied, they argue the supply of retail units is clearly outstripping demand.

Although the cafe will remove a shop, they do not believe an additional food use will significantly erode Brook Street's retail character.

Unlike most other food and drink uses on the street, it will be open during the day.

The cafe will bring a vacant unit back into use and boost activity in Brook Street, improving its overall vitality.

If there was to be a significant increase in demand for shops, no planning permission would be needed for it to return to retail premises.

No objections were raised by the County Engineer.

Recommending the application should be approved, planning officers pointed out that competition is not a planning matter.

Given the number of empty units in Brook Street, the cafe will help to attract greater numbers of people in the daytime, the feel.

Chester's planning board agreed on a unanimous 13-0 vote the cafe should have permission.