Sheffield is ‘open for business’ Ikea said today - after a new £60 million store for the city won unanimous council approval.
Plans for the Swedish furniture giant’s long-awaited development were given the go-ahead by Sheffield Council yesterday, in one of the most complex decisions city planners have ever made.
Concerns were raised over the impact on highways and on air quality in Tinsley, with one resident calling for an inquiry and angry protesters storming out of the council hearing.
But the three-hour meeting ruled the benefits to employment and the economy - including up to 400 jobs in store, 80 associated posts, and 200 more during construction - outweighed the negatives.
It was indicated the store could be a reality by 2016.
But the plans must now go to the Secretary of State for approval, and Ikea says it is ‘too early’ to say when building work will start.
Steve Pettyfer, Ikea UK’s deputy property manager, told The Star: “The benefits for the people of Sheffield are quite simple - 400 jobs, investment in the city, a prevention of trade going elsewhere and, most importantly I think, it says Sheffield is open for business.
“It is very obvious the people of Sheffield today already go to Nottingham and Leeds to experience Ikea.
“So it is really the people of Sheffield who want Ikea in Sheffield – they are the reason we’ve come here.”
The decision was also welcomed by city leaders.
Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, said the store was a vote of confidence. “It is great news that will bring new jobs and encourage more people to spend their money in Sheffield,” he said.
Deputy PM and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg said the sooner the store is built, the sooner the council can benefit from new rules about keeping 50 per cent of business rates generated locally.
He added: “I’m delighted the pressure has paid off and, although it took well over a year, Ikea can finally get the ball rolling. There must be no further delays.”
Tim Hale, chair of Sheffield Chamber’s Transport Forum, said: “This new abundance of infrastructure and commercial development is to be welcomed with open arms - it is the shot in the arm the city has needed.”