Plans for an Ikea store in Sheffield moved a step nearer today after a solution was found to the traffic congestion which threatened the scheme.
The Swedish furniture giant wants to build a £60 million store on the former Betafence and Tinsley Wire site off Sheffield Road, Carbrook.
But there were worries traffic heading to and from the store would worsen jams around the busy nearby junction 34 of the M1.
Talks have been taking place between Ikea and the Highways Agency, which manages the motorway, about how to minimise the congestion.
And now the agency has revealed ‘a solution can be found to the capacity issues’.
Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said today: “This is great news. It shows that Ikea are prepared to work with other organisations until they come up with a solution which can allow the store to go ahead.
“We now have to look at the bigger picture and attract even more investment into the area.”
A spokesman for Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Clearly there are still some issues that need to be resolved, but we’re hopeful a solution can be found to the concerns local Labour politicians have previously highlighted.
“Everyone should be working together to see this new development go ahead. Apart from the fact Sheffielders want to shop at Ikea on their doorstep instead of having to travel to Leeds or Nottingham, we need the 700 extra jobs and investment that the development would deliver.”
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet member for business, skills and development, said: “If the issues have been resolved, that’s great news. We now need to see the details.”
Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole said ‘issues’ remain such as who will pay for the road improvements.
The Highways Agency said it believed a solution to traffic concerns could be found but said no agreement has yet been made on how to implement the changes and did not reveal details of the measures required.
A spokeswoman said: “The agency is working closely with Ikea and is still considering the impact of a new store on the M1 and its associated junctions.
“No agreement for junction improvements or any planning conditions which may need to be put in place have yet been finalised.”
A decision on whether to grant planning permission for the store is likely to be made in the New Year because of delays coming to an agreement on the highways issues.
The store’s planning application, submitted last May, has so far attracted more than 200 comments, mostly in favour but some objecting on the grounds of extra traffic, congestion and air pollution.
Ikea was unavailable for comment.