Fingal council to take action against unauthorised Starbucks

An Bord Pleanála finds Dublin coffee outlet opened without planning permission

An Bord Pleanála found Starbucks opened the premises in Airside Retail Park witout necessary planning permission. Photograph: iStock

An Bord Pleanála found Starbucks opened the premises in Airside Retail Park witout necessary planning permission. Photograph: iStock


Fingal County Council is to take enforcement action against an unauthorised Starbucks outlet in Swords, Co Dublin.

An Bord Pleanála found the coffee chain opened the premises in Airside Retail Park without necessary planning permission.

The case concerned the change of use of part of a Smyths toy shop to use as a coffee shop.

Starbucks argued their premises remained a “shop” under planning laws but An Bord Pleanála found the premises was more akin to a café or restaurant.

The alterations to the unit involved seating, a service counter, coffee machines and customer toilets. The planning board inspector said she was of the opinion that the change of use from a toy shop to use as a coffee shop by Starbucks was a material change of use which would have required planning permission.

Fingal County Council referred the matter to the planning board in May 2016. The council’s planning department had carried out a site inspection at the premises in January 2016 and again in March, following a complaint that a retail unit had been converted into a coffee shop without planning permission.

Change of use ‘unauthorised’

On Friday morning a spokeswoman for the council said: “Fingal County Council became aware of the change of use of a unit at Airside Retail Park, Swords, from retail to that of a coffee shop/restaurant.

“As clarification was required as to whether this constituted an unauthorised change of use, a ruling was requested by the council from an Bord Pleanála, under Section 5 of the Planning Acts, on the planning status of this development.

“A decision has recently been issued by an Bord Pleanála to the effect that this particular change of use is, in fact, unauthorised and requires planning permission.”

She added: “As a consequence of this decision, Fingal County Council shall initiate enforcement proceedings with regard to this unauthorised use.”

An enforcement notice sets out the requirements to rectify the offence within a certain timeframe. Non-compliance is an offence and can lead to a local authority initiating legal proceedings in the district court.

Other Starbucks cases

Starbucks has been involved in a number of similar planning cases. In September, Fingal County Council served notice on an outlet in Howth to discontinue its use after inspectors found they changed the use of the premises without planning permission.

In the same month, Waterford City and County Council served notices on a Starbucks in the city which had opened without proper planning permission.

In March, An Bord Pleanála ruled that Starbucks had opened three outlets in Cork city without obtaining the necessary planning permission.

Entertainment Enterprises Group, which runs Starbucks’ outlets in Ireland, did not return calls from The Irish Times.