DISCOUNT RETAILER HOMESAVERS has been ordered to close two shops and has been issued warning letters by several county councils over potentially operating developments without permission.
According to documents obtained by Fora, local authorities have issued two enforcement notices over alleged breaches of planning rules at the lands at Homesavers, Broomhill Road, Tallaght in south Dublin and its City East Retail Park location in Limerick.
Homesavers has indicated that it does not accept it has breached planning regulations, and is “currently responding” to the councils.
South Dublin County Council wrote to the retailer on 4 September ordering it to cease operating its shop in Tallaght and to remove signage after an investigation concluded that it does not have the necessary planning permission to operate out of the warehouse site.
Limerick City and County Council issued a similar notice to Homesavers on 5 December 2018 stating that its store in Garryglass does not have sufficient permission to operate as a premises that sells “non-bulky household goods”.
As well ordering the company to cease operations, both local authorities have required it to refund the €400 and €650 costs associated with investigating each premises and issuing enforcement proceedings.
No further action has yet been taken by either council.
In the enforcement notices, Homesavers was warned of the penalties for individuals found guilty of an offence in relation to an unauthorised development under provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2000.
Should the matter be litigated, and provided both Councils are successful in prosecuting their case, Homesavers face a potential penalty on conviction in the Circuit Court of up to two years in prison or a fine of up to €12.7 million or both. Should action be taken in the district court, persons convicted face up to six months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to €5,000 or both.
A Homesavers spokeswoman said, “We are in receipt of enforcement notices at some, but not all, of the properties identified by Fora. We have taken legal advice and are currently responding to those notices.
“In the locations subject to an enforcement notice, and nationwide, we trade alongside many retailers with a similar product profile to our own who are also subject to the bulky goods planning condition and who have never been served by an enforcement notice. Based on this, we are confident that we, and all of our neighbours throughout the country, are compliant with that condition.”
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that South Dublin County Council served an enforcement notice to Homesavers over a site at Robinhood Industrial Estate. The subject of the notice was in fact a site at Broomhill Road, Tallaght. Fora is happy to correct this detail.