A decision which has paved the way for another coffee shop chain to open a branch in a high street will threaten independent businesses, it is claimed.
Permission was granted for the premises formerly used by Enigma Hairdressers in High Street, Wanstead, to be used as a food and drink outlet on Wednesday.
In documents submitted to the regional planning committee west, Indigo Planning, acting on behalf of landlord Threadneedle Pensions Ltd, claimed its client had received interest from a coffee shop operator.
This has raised fears that another chain could be preparing to move in to the street, which already has branches of Starbucks and a Greggs, as well as a number of coffee shops.
Kerrie Dainty of Nice Croissant said: "It is disgusting that councillors have automatically let this happen.
"Wanstead is going the same way as other high streets, becoming places full of eateries.
"There is the potential of losing Wanstead Village as we know it.
"We are a stand alone business and don't need the competition of a high street chain.
"Considering the council want to support local businesses this seems like a complete reversal."
Tracy Reed of Time for Tea, which has only been open since October, agreed.
She said: "We don't really want another high street chain to come.
"But if the rents are really high maybe they are the only ones that can afford to pay them."
Permission for the change of use was passed by four votes to two.
Cllr Paul Canal voted against the plan. He said: "There is a target of 70 per cent retail units on the high street - Wanstead is now down to 57 per cent and this is a further erosion of that.
"We aren't short of coffee shops on the high street."
However, cllr Richard Hoskins, who voted for the new coffee shop, defended the decision.
He said: "Shopping habits and shopping centres have changed over the years. Coffee shops are becoming part of the high street and part of the shopping experience.
“I think a new coffee shop only will encourage people to go to Wanstead rather than deter them.
“Independent coffee shops offer something high street chains don’t – they are local people, offering a local service. I am sure they will survive.”