Monday 18 December 2017

Council planning row over sign at Starbucks threatens to boil over

The Howth branch of Starbucks with the offending sign
The Howth branch of Starbucks with the offending sign

A branch of Starbucks is in hot water with Fingal County Council over an advertising sign. Last year, a Howth-based outlet of the coffee shop chain changed the use of its premises without planning permission.

The council then served the owners, Faynon, with an enforcement notice, giving them four weeks to discontinue the unauthorised use of the building.

The company applied for retention and were eventually allowed to continue operating under a number of conditions.

One of those was to remove the brightly lit sign outside the cafe.

However, Faynon has so far failed to take down the sign, resulting in the council issuing the company with a warning letter.

"Fingal County Council issued a final grant of retention permission on the 4 January 2017 subject to six conditions," a council spokesperson told the Herald. The spokesperson pointed out that the second of those conditions was the removal of the "illuminated sign".

"On foot of a planning enforcement complaint lodged with the council in respect of the illuminated sign, a warning letter has been issued on the 25 April 2017 and Faynon Limited has four weeks in which to respond," said the spokesperson.

If the order is not complied with, the company will be taken to the district court.

The store had previously been a bicycle shop, which relocated following a landslide from an old church and graveyard located above the premises.


Local Labour councillor Brian McDonagh, who raised the issue of the sign, said this incident demonstrated "no respect" for Irish planning laws.

"It's not fair on other businesses in the area that are abiding to the proper planning regulations," he said. "We should not have to issue these enforcement notices against such a big corporation like Starbucks. They should be doing what the law tells them."

The local councillor added that the local planning laws were there for a reason.

"It's not even the case where people find the sign offensive. A village like Howth has a certain character and we are constantly trying to preserve it," said Mr McDonagh.

"We have planning restrictions for a reason. If we let businesses just do what they want, then we would see these massive, brightly lit, American-style signs all over the place."

Entertainment Enterprises Group (EEG), a business run by Faynon, signed an agreement with Starbucks in 2012 to license the coffee giant's outlets in Ireland. "We confirm that we are in compliance with the required planning permission," EEG told the Herald.

There was no response last night from Starbucks Coffee Company.

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