Furniture giant Ikea has taken a step towards a Sheffield store – by promising to spend £400,000 on environmental schemes.
The Swedish firm, which wants to build a £60 million outlet at the former Tinsley Wire site off Sheffield Road, has offered to spend big money on fitting buses with green technology, adding special surfaces to roads, and planting trees.
Displays giving up-to-the-minute information on pollution will be installed in the store, encouraging shoppers to delay their journeys home when air quality is poor.
Traffic congestion and air quality are seen as two main hurdles to a new Ikea.
Meadowhall is still objecting to the scheme on traffic grounds, despite the Highways Agency previously saying it was satisfied the M1 can cope.
And Barker’s Pool department store John Lewis is another major opponent, claiming Ikea will draw trade away from the city centre.
A report by Dr Bethan Tuckett-Jones, head of air quality at planning consultancy Parsons Brinckerhoff, says the £400,000 would be targeted at Tinsley and junction 34 of the M1, as well as having ‘wider-reaching benefits’.
Ikea has offered to spend £200,000 on refitting up to 10 buses with technology to reduce the amount of harmful nitrogen oxides emitted from the vehicles’ exhausts.
“This measure is targeted at bus routes which use J34 south of the M1, and in particular on those routes which run alongside Town Street and towards the junction with Bawtry Road,” said Dr Tuckett-Jones.
“If buses operating in the Tinsley area were also fitted out, this could potentially offset the emissions of 700 cars per day, which equates to just under 30 per cent of the increase associated with the Ikea development.” She added: “Benefits of the upgrade would, of course, be felt along the entire routes of the buses.”
An in-store display system would be placed at Ikea exit, linked to the Tinsley air quality monitoring station.
“It is envisaged the system would be designed along a ‘traffic light’ warning system, to encourage shoppers to delay journeys during periods of elevated pollution, reduce their speeds on the motorway, or use alternative routes,” added Andrew Astin, from Leeds-based Indigo Planning.
Adverts would also encourage customers to visit the restaurant instead of setting off straight away when pollution is high.
Meanwhile Ikea would put up £185,000 to coat roads with titanium oxide during planned highway works around junction 34. Dr Tuckett-Jones said the substance is a proven method of reducing pollution.
And around £15,000 would pay for the planting of 50 trees.
“Ikea would welcome the input from the local community as to where such planting could be targeted,” said Dr Tuckett-Jones.
“Ideally, planting on J34 south should be increased but benefits may be seen alongside Bawtry Road.”
The store proposal is expected to go before Sheffield Council’s planning committee next month.