INDEPENDENT coffee shops in Newport have raised concerns about plans that could see Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons come to the city.

Tim Hortons has applied for planning permission for the change of use of the former Clark’s shoe shop in Commercial Street.

However, Gavin Horton, who runs Horton’s Coffee House, in Millennium Walk, in the city centre, is worried about the plans – especially because of their similar names.

Mr Horton, who opened the coffee house last December, said: “There will probably be a bit of confusion over the name, they may even try to get me to change my name. We will have to wait and see, but this is a concern for me.”

The ex-steelman said the plans would be good for employment – but not necessary for the independent businesses in the city centre.

“It is another multibillion company we have to compete against,” he said. “I think the city should try to attract another big department store, such as John Lewis, as that is what would attract people to the city centre.

Alun Jones, of Java coffee house, in Charles Street, said he was “devastated” when he heard about the plans.

Mr Jones said: “We are only about 20 to 30 yards away. We are a little independent and this would make things difficult for us. I know they say it will bring jobs, but we have five part-time girls here and some of their jobs could under threat.

“When I found out, I was devastated. The council need to think about the businesses who have been here for a long time, they don’t seem to think of the consequences for small traders.”

A spokeswoman for the council said, once the application is processed for the change of use, then it will go out for consultation. She said: “The council has led a drive to change the face of the city centre with a move to a more vibrant mix of shops, homes and other uses.

“The council is trying to encourage new business, especially smaller, independent traders by offering both practical and financial assistance with grants and this has proved successful with a number of shops and restaurants opening their doors in recent months.”

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Tim Hortons were contacted for comment.