Tuesday, 20 May 2008

St James's Street 1 - Starbucks 0 (half-time score)

RESIDENTS and local traders in St James's Street are celebrating victory after local planners decided to reject an application to open a Starbucks coffee shop on the road.

Brighton and Hove City Council's planning department has agreed with more than 500 objectors that a Starbucks store would damage the unique character of the street by replacing yet another shop with a café.

Local planning guidelines say there must be a predominance of traditional shops in the area.

This is fantastic news and a victory for local democracy.

Many of the local traders we have spoken to as local councillors feel very strongly that a Starbucks café would threaten the viability of their businesses, and ultimately the unique character of the whole street.

More than 1,200 people have joined an internet campaign to campaign against the chain opening a branch in St James's Street.

But the campaign is far from over.

If Starbucks decides to appeal a decision will be taken by Government inspectors who could overturn local planners.

And flaws in the planing system meant the firm has already done much of the work – and already caused significant disturbance to local residents.

The building works have caused a great deal of disruption in the last few weeks, obstructing St James's Street and even closing neighbouring roads for Southern water to increase water supplies to the building.

That someone can commence building works, and even theoretically open for business, before they have permission to do so makes a farce of the planing system and undermines the power of communities and local authorities.

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