Costa given go-ahead to open cafe in Hawick

The old WH Smith premises in Hawick High Street.
The old WH Smith premises in Hawick High Street.

Hawick High Street shoppers will soon be able to wake up and smell the coffee now approval has been granted for an international chain to open a cafe in the town.

When stationery chain WH Smith shut up shop in the thoroughfare at the end of 2014, it was seen as a major blow to the town’s already ailing retail sector.

Now, however, the town’s cup is half-full rather than half-empty as Scottish Borders Council has approved an application from Costa Coffee to open up at 52 High Street.

The bid was approved by Julie Hayward, the council’s lead planning officer, under delegated powers.

In a report to councillors, she points to the positive impact such a business could have on the town centre’s vitality and viability.

The new Costa, set to be the third in the Borders, will also fill the gap left by the recent closures of two cafes in the town.

Ms Hayward says: “The site is the former WH Smith retail unit on the south eastern side of the High Street, which has been vacant for some time.

“The building is two-storey, and there is a residential property above it.

“The proposal is to convert the ground floor of the building into a coffee shop to be occupied by Costa.

“There would be a counter-kitchen, seating area, toilets, two meeting rooms for rent and storage areas.

“The proposal also includes an external seating area.

“The building is currently vacant and does not contribute to the vitality and viability of the town centre.

“The proposal will bring this building back into use.

“This is an area of mixed use – commercial, retail and residential – and the proposal would be in keeping with this part of the town centre.”

Costa was founded in London in 1971 by the Costa family as a wholesale operation supplying caterers and specialist Italian coffee shops but is now based in Bedfordshire.

Acquired by Whitbread in 1995, it has since grown to run more than 3,400 cafes in 31 countries.

Besides its cafe in Peebles High Street, Costa has a franchise within the Next clothes store in Galashiels and operates Costa Express outlets at the Co-op in Lauder and Jedburgh’s Shell garage.

Hawick’s forthcoming new Costa would fill the gap in the market left by the closure of two of the town’s cafes within weeks of each other earlier this year – Turnbull’s, in Oliver Place, and the New Howegate Cafe, in Howegate.