MRS HELEN BARROW, of South Town, Kenton, Devon, writes:

I visit Dartmouth on a regular basis and conduct business both in the town and the surrounding area. I am writing with regard to the shop known as Ribbons

and Bows, 5-9 Victoria Road, Dartmouth.

I believe this shop has been vacant for at least a year, which is sad, as it is a known fact in the retail profession that an empty property has a detrimental effect on the surrounding businesses. Empty shops create a very poor impression of Dartmouth.

The town prides itself on offering high-street names, designer stores and unique bespoke boutiques that serve both the local community and a huge tourist trade. People visit to peruse the shops, visit restaurants and enjoy the scenery and atmosphere. The tourists and visitors attracted to Dartmouth are generally affluent and have high expectations.

I am very much in favour of the plans for Costa to trade in this shop. The current cafes and coffee houses are tired, dull and have short trading hours. It is often impossible to get a coffee in Dartmouth after 4pm. A lot of them operate seasonally or close up early, from October onwards. This is an old-fashioned way of conducting business and no longer fits in with people’s lifestyles and expectations.

Costa will create a lot of jobs for local people. There will be opportunities for young people to have careers on Costa’s ­management and training ­programmes. The company offers progression and promotion internally to employees who wish to progress. It will offer much-needed jobs in the area, with job security and career prospects. Recruitment will be for both full- and part-time employees, so will appeal to a wide spectrum of candidates.

Young people will also benefit from Costa as a meeting place, rather than pubs or hanging around the local area. It ­provides Wi-Fi and offers them a safe haven and an alternative place to study or meet up with friends. The later opening hours will mean they can meet after school or college in a cafe environment without causing a nuisance in the local community.

The Wi-Fi and comfortable furnishings are very important, as they will attract a lot of ­businesspeople who wish to have informal meetings there or work remotely. This service is not currently offered anywhere in Dartmouth.

Personally, as a business ­professional, I think it is essential for Dartmouth to have this venue, as a lot of business is now conducted in this way.

It is a proven fact that Costa also increases the footfall ­surrounding its outlets. More shoppers, tourists and businesspeople will be in the area. The spin-off effect will provide a huge benefit and increases in turnover for the surrounding businesses. They should be ­welcoming Costa with open arms and enjoying the extra revenue that its presence will no doubt bring.

There is plenty of business to go around and Costa will improve and modernise the premises, making the area more attractive to the consumer. It only sells beverages and snacks, so it will not impact on the busy restaurant trade.

I cannot see any negative points for allowing Costa into Dartmouth. Surely it is better

to have the area buzzing and ­trading rather than sad, empty and unappealing.