The volume of existing and new cafes and restaurants in Farnham is indeed a sign of a town centre that is evolving and creating new purpose (Herald, April 24)

However, whether the volume is sustainable, which the article questions, must in my view surface a conversation about quality and distinctiveness. 

Too often the food offer and design values are indistinguishable. 

A lovely building and refurb aside, the offer at Harris + Hoole is in essence the same as Costa, Starbucks and Nero. I doubt that Megan’s will be radically different from Bills, nor Coppa from Cote. 

These brands bring huge investment – but I’m not sure what they really add to Farnham’s food experiences. 

The independent sector with passionate and individualised vision could bring real breadth and distinctiveness – stepping beyond the predictable panini and avo on toast – to embrace the vast and impressive offer you might experience at any number of pop-ups and food fairs. 

Unless the independent sector in Farnham becomes more ambitious and adventurous, I fear it will be these businesses, with much less to invest, that will lose out to the bigger brands coming to town.

By Roni Brown

Former deputy vice-chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts