Caffe Nero opened in Knaresborough’s Market Place on the same day that planning permission for change of use for the building was denied.
The chain coffee shop opened for business on Monday, despite Harrogate Borough Council refusing permission to change the premises from a retail unit to a retail/cafe unit.
Harrogate Borough Council refused planning permission on the grounds that the loss of the prominent retail unit will harm the vitality and viability of the town centre.
The decision was made by chief planner Gary Bell, rather than the council’s planning committee.
Knaresborough Town Council raised no objections over the proposals when consulted, however over 2,000 people signed a petition opposing Caffe Nero plans last month.
Local cafe owner Maurice Bardon said: “Me and other cafe owners in the town agree with Harrogate Borough Council’s reasons for denying permission, we don’t want to lose the retail spot from the town.
“It’s disappointing that the council have no real power to stop Caffe Nero from flouting the law. They can’t close the place down and the appeal process could go on for six months or more.”
Colin Bonney, owner of a cafe restaurant in the Castle Courtyard said: “It’s hard to get people to see what isn’t right in front of them and attract customers without a shop front.
“It doesn’t seem fair that they are sitting there in a prime spot without permission and it will drive other cafes out of business.”
Mr Bonney added: “They opened before the planning decision was even announced, they weren’t going to pay attention to it no matter what.”
Local business owners deemed the coffee chain’s behaviour as “Arrogant” last week after the company’s agents, Brian Madge Ltd, told council officers “Caffe Nero will trade whatever the outcome of the current application.”
Representatives from Caffe Nero were unavailable for comment.