STARBUCKS have been accused of using the planning process as a delaying tactic after Cork City Council ordered them to close their Patrick Street store.
The coffee giant has lodged a new referral case to An Bord Pleanála on their Patrick's Street store - the third such referral to be made on the outlet.
Starbucks opened on the street two years ago but the company never applied for planning permission for the change of use of the building.
Cork City Council first referred the Starbucks issue to An Bord Pleanála in 2015 who agreed that the use of the premises as a coffee shop meant it was not exempt from planning.
Starbucks subsequently removed the tables, seats and toilets arguing the location operated strictly as a takeaway and was, therefore, a shop rather than a cafe.
However, An Bord Pleanála ruled in March that removing the seating did not alter the situation and that planning permission was required.
Following the most recent decision, the Council began enforcement proceedings against Starbucks ordering them to cease the unauthorised use of the location and restore the premises to its former condition.
However, Starbucks has now lodged a new referral with An Bord Pleanála asking them to decide whether the use of the outlet for the sale of convenience goods is allowed.
The case is not expected to be decided until February at the latest.
Reacting to the news, a spokesperson for Cork City Council said that while the referral was to An Bord Pleanála is disappointing "it was not unexpected and the decision of the Board should bring finality to the matter."
Asked if they would be suspending the enforcement action against the company, City Hall said the would be reviewing the matter on foot of the referral.
City Councillor Laura McGonigle hit out at Starbucks saying the company was using An Bord Pleanála as a delaying tactic.
"They are thumbing their nose at planning officials and showing complete disrespect for the planning process," she said.
Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment.