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Hertford Starbucks refused planning permission a second time

The issue: East Herts Council planners have refused the Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks planning permission for a store in Hertford's Bircherley Green. This is the second refusal the company has received since plans to use a vacant shop were rejected last year.

The decision addresses an appeal made by Starbucks following the initial refusal in February 2008.

The store is legally able to trade until a final decision is reached, which is expected at the end of the month.

The facts: While Starbucks is able to operate in units 8 and 9 of Bircherley Green, it is unit 6 (formerly Going Places) that is disputed. The use of unit 6 as a café would be in breach of planning control as it only has permission to operate as a retail unit.

East Herts Council describes its planning policies as: "designed to promote sustainable town centres by encouraging a good mix of different uses, so that town centres aren't overrun by cafes without having enough shops."

The case for rejection: The application was rejected as it would have meant losing a protected retail premises in an important town centre shopping location. It is intended to protect independent businesses in the town.

The café Serendipity, which also neighbours the vacant store in question, was refused a similar application in October 2006 for similar reasons.

The case against: Starbucks has expressed disappointment at the decision, stating that the Bircherley Green store has "positively contributed to the community" since opening a year ago.

According to the company's 2007 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, each store employs an average of 20 staff.

Have your say: How do you feel about Starbucks operating in Hertford? Is it good for the local economy or harming independent business? Send us your views:

As reported in the East Herts Herald, March 18, 2009.

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