PLANS for a drive-thru coffee shop at Clacton’s out-of-town Brook Retail Park could be “another nail in the coffin” of the resort’s town centre.

Associated British Foods Pension Trustees have applied to Tendring Council for permission to build a coffee shop or restaurant unit with drive thru on part of the car park at the retail park, off London Road.

The plans would see a 380sq metre shop created between the existing Carphone Warehouse and KFC, which would lead to the loss of 40 car parking spaces.

Planning agents said several vacant shop sites in Clacton town centre, including the empty premises left behind by the closure of Marks and Spencer and Mothercare, were considered but they are “not suitable to accommodate the proposed development owing to their size, location and configuration”.

Graham Webb, chairman of Clacton Town Partnership, said: “There seems to be no limit as to what is allowed to be built out of town.

“Out-of-town retail development is clearly killing the town centre.

“No-one wants to pay to park in a car park when coming into town for a coffee. There needs to be more on-street parking

“It’s all well and good saying people passing on the A133 will go in for a coffee to Brook Retail Park, but then they won’t be spending when they get into the town – if they make it here at all.”

Planning agents Williams Gallagher’s report added: “The development is proposed as changes in retail shopping patterns has led to a reduction in the number of cars visiting the Brook Retail Park and some of the car parking is now surplus to requirements

“A recent parking survey shows parking demand peaked at 134 cars on the Saturday surveyed, indicating that less than half the available spaces were being used even at the busiest time.

“The redevelopment of some of the spaces is, therefore, proposed to meet an identified need for a coffee shop or restaurant with drive thru in this location to serve visitors to Brook Park, passing trade on the A133 and nearby existing and proposed residential areas.

“It is anticipated that the development will deliver up to 12 full time equivalent jobs once operational and further jobs will be created during the construction stage.”

A decision on the plan is expected by June 22.