Costa’s coffee shop plans give Morningside traders grounds for concern

Anne Williamson, left, with David Lincoln, Ciara Etherson, Donald Nairn, and Sammy McCallum
Anne Williamson, left, with David Lincoln, Ciara Etherson, Donald Nairn, and Sammy McCallum
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CAFE chain Costa has sparked anger by announcing plans to open a new shop in Morningside – because it would become the 58th coffee outlet in the space of a mile.

The Morningside Traders Association is fighting the plan as one cafe too far and has even suggested renaming Holy Corner as Caffeine Corner.

Costa Coffee, which already has a shop in nearby Bruntsfield Place, has applied to the city council for a change of use to what is currently a bathroom store at 14 Morningside Road but looks set to face stiff resistance.

It comes as another multi-national, Sainsbury’s, finds itself fighting off protests in Bruntsfield over its move into the former Peckham’s deli store.

However, Anne Williamson – who runs Houseproud of Morningside and is chair of the traders’ group – said it was the type of business rather than Costa itself they were objecting to.

She walked the mile from the bottom of Comiston Road to the Bruntsfield Hotel and discovered 57 different places where she could buy a coffee.

“We’ve nothing against them as a business,” she said. “The issue is the sheer number of places you can now buy coffee in Bruntsfield and Morningside.

“We should maybe rename Holy Corner ‘Caffeine Corner’ or ‘Coffee Corner’ – that’s what it’s getting to.

“I personally have nothing against coffee shops – they offer a relaxing opportunity to catch up with friends and family – but it’s all about balance. Imagine if we had 57 banks or building societies within a one-mile range on our high street.”

She added that quirky, independent stores – which Morningside and Bruntsfield are traditionally associated with – risked being squeezed out by big businesses.

She said: “We need to ensure that we support the independently owned businesses who give our community its individuality, uniqueness, and the interesting experience a local shopping village can offer.”

Several other businesses, including places which already serve coffee, have added their voices to the objections.

Yolanda Luca, who owns Luca’s ice-cream shop, said: “I know they say never to worry about what opens next door to you, but Morningside really is becoming the Seafield car strip – except with cafes.”

Morningside councillor Mark McInnes said the council would have to decide whether another cafe would make Morningside a more desirable place to shop.

He said: “I understand the traders’ concern and I do think there has to be a balance in terms of shops available in Bruntsfield and Morningside. It’s important we maintain a good variety.”

Fellow local councillor Alison Johnstone added: “It’s time to step back and ask for a review before any more permissions are granted, otherwise we’ll lose the unique shopping area. People travel from across Edinburgh to shop in Bruntsfield and Morningside and it would be a tragedy for the independent shops that draw those people in to be lost.”

Costa Coffee did not respond to requests for comment.