MULTINATIONAL COFFEE CONGLOMERATE Starbucks opened its first store in Waterford today, despite having no planning permission.
The café opened in John Roberts Square in Waterford City this morning, in the old Toymaster store next to Pandora’s jewellery shop on John Roberts Square.
In response to a query from TheJournal.ie, Waterford Council’s planning department say they have opened a planning enforcement case on the store, which would be the first in the city centre.
“The planning authority has come to the view that the development is unauthorised and have opened a planning enforcement case,” the council said in a statement.
We are following the process open to us under legislation.As result we have served warning notices (on 1 September) on the occupiers and the building owners.
Starbucks have four weeks to respond to the warning notices, they added. The Irish owners of the multinational chain’s operation here did not respond when contacted by TheJournal.ie.
Local politicians in Waterford say the chain has shown contempt for the democratic process in not applying for planning permission.
“They should sit down with the council and go through the planning process the same as everyone else,” says Cllr Joe Conway.
There should be no exceptional treatment of Starbucks simply because their logo looks nice in the city.
“It’s seen as a badge of smart living, really, to have a Starbucks around, but I don’t think this absolves them of behaving them in a respectful way.
My two teenage daughters used to love going to Dublin to drink it, and I hate the bloody stuff. I think it’s a vile coffee.But that’s not the point – the point is the democratic process. It’s not a very respectful way to behave.
“As someone who had to go through the rigours of a planning permission myself nine years ago when I was building a house, companies and people should follow the democratic process, as a protection for everybody.
“It’s not respectful. Cities are trying to regenerate, but if everybody took open-season attitude you’d have very higgedly-piggedly development in the city centre.”
Some locals and retailers are in favour of the opening, however.
“I think the planning hold-up is a disaster because there’s a lot of empty premises around here,” Frances Dempsey of Gallagher’s Pharmacy on nearby Barronstrand Street told TheJournal.ie.
They could cut back some of the red tape. I’d better grab myself a coffee over there before they close it.
A decision on a planning application from Starbucks for its Princes Street outlet in Cork, is expected on 21 September. The cafe is one of three outlets Starbucks opened in Cork 18 months ago, without the necessary planning.
In March, An Bord Pleanála body ruled that the three developments – the other two are in Opera Lane and Patrick Street – amount to a change of use, meaning planning permission is needed for all outlets.
Starbucks have recently applied for planning to retain permission for the Princes Street store to use the unit as a coffee shop with seating.
The council’s warning notice to Starbucks over its unauthorised store in Waterford is the first stage of action under the Planning Acts.
If the response is unsatisfactory, Waterford Council can issue enforcement notices, which Starbucks must comply with or risk committing a criminal offence.
The council can also take a prosecution in the District Court, with penalties including a fine up to €5,000 for summary or minor matter, or daily fines up to €1,500 for each day on which offence is repeated – although this is rarely used by the courts.
Starbucks can apply to the council for retention of unauthorised development and/or change of use.
The accounts for Ritea Limited, which operates the Irish coffee shops, shows the company made a profit of over €1 million for the 12 months up to July 26, 2015 — but paid no tax for the period.
Starbucks paid €4,196 in Irish corporation tax in 2014, after two years of making no contribution to the State’s coffers.
The chain has come under fire in the US and UK for failing to recycle their coffee cups.
The coffee chain opened its first Irish outlet in Dublin in Dundrum Town Centre in August 2005.
The company’s Irish operation was licensed to the Entertainment Enterprises in 2012, an Irish group ran by brothers Ciarán and Colum Butler, which also runs TGI Fridays and the chain of Mao restaurants.
They currently have over 50 Starbucks outlets in the greater Dublin area.