From phone box to coffee shop - Quirky retail idea lodged for city

This phone box in Tombland, Norwich, is to be used as a tiny shop selling cacti.

There are plans for coffee to be sold from disused phone boxes in Tombland - Credit: Daniel Moxon

Disused phone boxes could soon be transformed into mini coffee shops in the city centre. 

West Sussex-based architects Bentleys and Carter has submitted an application to Norwich City Council on behalf of RKC Estates to turn two phone boxes into retail units. 

Two BT kiosks in Tombland could be converted into small outlets selling ice cream, coffee, repair services or other products suited to street sale. 

They would be predominantly selling hot drinks.

Paul Carter, director of Bentleys and Carter, said the scheme has already been successfully rolled out across the country including in cities such as London, Brighton and Edinburgh.

Mr Carter added: "We have been doing this for about 10 years and it is now being branched out to other regional areas of the country." 

The first two self-contained food and beverage kiosks converted from disused telephone boxes were launched near the Pavilion Gardens in Brighton.

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A design and access statement for the plans to launch the scheme in Norwich states the footprint of the phone boxes would be unaltered by the proposal. 

The Norwich phone box in Tombland which could so be converted into a miniature office for travelling

Two phone boxes in Tombland could soon be converted into new business opportunities - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

The phone boxes would remain painted in BT phone box red and a rolling maintenance programme will see the kiosks refurbished every two years. 

They would be staffed at all times on a shift basis to allow for comfort breaks if the city council approves the application.

Planning papers prepared by Bentleys and Carter state: "The concept of a public telephone box is now outdated as the majority of people own a mobile phone.

"The proposed new use maintains their appearance but re-invents their use to suit the 21st century.

"The kiosk will be used primarily for the sale of hot drinks."

The applicant has said it is committed to removing any waste leftover from the business at the end of each day.

To help with this, two waste bins will be kept in the kiosk – one for recycling and one for nonrecyclable waste – each fitted with tie-up bags.

Norwich City Council will consider the application in due course after the plans were submitted this month. 

The applicant has been approached for comment.