A London-based coffee chain is set to open its first North East café in a prominent empty unit in the heart of Newcastle.

Black Sheep Coffee will take over the closed-down L’Occitane en Provence shop on Grainger Street, after winning planning approval from Newcastle City Council.

The unit, which stands on the corner with Nelson Street and was previously occupied by Vodafone, has stood vacant for some months after the beauty chain exited.

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But it is now set for a new lease of life with the well-known coffee shop brand moving in, adding to its collection of cafés across the capital, as well as cities including Manchester and Leeds.

A planning application to repaint the store, which has been approved by the city council this week, says: “Black Sheep Coffee was established in 2013 and now has circa 40 units in the UK as well as others overseas.

"It wishes to use and occupy the vacant unit at 139 Grainger Street as a coffee shop to sell its hot, cold and blended coffees, supplemented by teas, smoothies, lemonade and chocolate drinks, with offers of muffins, bagels, waffles and sandwiches for customers to have on the premises or to take away.”

Black Sheep is also planning to set up an outdoor pavement café on Grainger Street.

The former L’Occitane shop was a source of some controversy, being at the centre of a year-long row with local authority officials who were unhappy at the 1830s listed building being painted a “garish” bright yellow.

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Having refitted the unit without the council’s permission, L’Occitane was subsequently forced to repaint it in an off-white colour after a planning battle that was ultimately decided by a government inspector.

The Black Sheep café will be painted dark grey, which the council has deemed acceptable.

The application adds: “Apart from the repainting of the shopfront, no external changes are proposed and the illuminated signage within the shop unit is considered necessary to advertise the business are relatively discreet.

"There are no heritage features of architectural or historic importance within the unit and the proposed fit-out is the latest iteration of ones undertaken over the past 20 years by previous businesses.  

“It is therefore argued that it has been clearly demonstrated that the submitted proposal would conserve and sustain the significance of the Grade II listed building and bring an empty shop unit back into active use within the Newcastle Central Conservation Area.”

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