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Camp Hopson boss doesn't want bistro next door to his shop

The boss of Camp Hopson has added his voice to the debate about whether or not the Loungers bistro should open in the former River Island unit on Northbrook Street.

Executive Chairman of the group that owns Camp Hopson, Bernard Dreesmann, has formally objected to the proposal that would see the River Island transformed into a Continental-in-style café/bistro concept, creating an informal and neighbourhood food-led café/restaurant where family, friends, and local residents can meet, eat and drink in a relaxed and comfortable environment.

Bernard said: “The department store sector is under considerable pressure with the recent liquidation of House of Fraser and the imminent closure of Debenhams Stores incl Newbury.”

He added: “The success of any particular centre is dependent, at least in part, upon retaining a reasonably close grouping of shops selling a wide range of products. This allows customers to fulfill the majority of their shopping needs in one trip, as well as providing the opportunity for comparing the price and availability of less frequently purchased goods. The existence of non-retail businesses in primary shopping areas inhibits these activities by reducing the range of shops, and thereby potentially reducing the number of people visiting the centre, as well as making the centre less compact and therefore less convenient.

“The applicant, Loungers Ltd, is a midmarket restaurant offering the sale of alcohol and is not appropriate ground floor use within the primary shopping frontage.”

Newbury Town Council also stated in response to the application: “Northbrook Street is the principal retail street of Newbury, and this site is one of its principal retail areas. Its loss would have an adverse effect on Newbury as a retail centre, contrary to the objectives of the Newbury Vision and the Newbury Town Plan. The change of use should therefore be refused.”

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