Protesters gathered outside a controversial coffee shop to urge cappuccino-seekers to get their fix in independent outlets.

Starbucks greeted its first customers at the new St James's Street branch yesterday despite being refused planning permission.

Dozens of campaigners handed out leaflets listing nearby independent venues.

The multinational chain applied for the right to transform the former Sussex Stationers store into a coffee shop.

But Brighton and Hove City Council turned down the request because it believed too many cafes were already operating in the neighbourhood.

Phil Broad, the managing director of Starbucks Coffee Company UK and Ireland, said the store was to appeal the planning decision but would continue to work with the council.

A group called Stop Starbucks From Opening On St James's Street was started by Jon Barrenechea, 31, of New Steine, Brighton, who said the arrival of the coffee shop would have a detrimental effect in the area.

There are already 12 coffee outlets in the street and traders are worried a chain like Starbucks could take business away from independent retailers.