IKEA has been wanting a store in Sheffield for years – and first had designs on a site off the Parkway more than a decade ago.
Its latest proposals would create the company’s 20th UK store – and the largest branch outside the South East.
The Sheffield store, at 37,000 sq metres, would be the joint third largest in Britain, the same size as Croydon. Only Lakeside and its largest site at Wembley would be bigger.
An Ikea spokesman said: “We would aim to submit a planning application for the Sheffield store in three months’ time.”
Original plans were submitted to develop an Ikea store on the former Yorkshire Electricity depot, between Parkway Drive and Parkway Avenue, back in 2001.
The proposals were rejected because the site was allocated for industrial use by Sheffield Council, which wanted retail developments in the city centre or near existing district shopping centres. In the intervening years, Ikea considered alternatives including White Rose Way, Doncaster, but did not proceed because of inadequate access.
More recently, the focus has switched back to Sheffield.
Two years ago, Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole confirmed talks were back on between its officials and Ikea.
Planning officers tried to persuade the company to look at sites around the city centre, but the company said such locations were unsuitable.
Most customers are buying bulky goods and need to travel by car, so good road access is seen as vital - although Ikea is also keen to stress that the latest proposed site in Sheffield is close to Supertram and has frequent bus links.
The derelict land off Sheffield Road, Meadowhall, former home to Tinsley Wire, lies within a few hundred yards of Junction 34 of the M1 and Ikea has promised to pay for improvements to surrounding roads.
But the site is close to where Next was refused planning permission for a home and garden store last year – on the grounds of potential harm to the city centre and the planned Sevenstone retail quarter. Next is appealing.
Clive Betts, Sheffield South East Labour MP, whose constituency includes the proposed store site, said Ikea would have to alleviate similar concerns among planners and councillors about its proposals.
Mr Betts said: “There are clearly major traffic problems around the M1 junction, and they are going to have to demonstrate they are not going to add to the traffic in a way that will create major congestion.”
Scott Royal, for Ikea, said: “We believe it is very much complementary to the city centre. Sevenstone is about high-end quality fashions. Ikea is much more a destination shop.
“People will travel to it because they want to buy something specific, it’s not somewhere you pop to browse as much.”
Sheffield Chamber of Commerce welcomed the news.
Richard Wright, executive director, said: “We have always argued Sheffield’s offering at both Meadowhall and in the city centre are different, complimentary, and needed; and will generate regional wealth, jobs and further investment.
“As a Chamber we will continue to push hard for the Sevenstone development to begin as soon as possible and assist wherever we can to get the right retail facilities in the city centre. It has taken too long for this to get started.
“But we will also support plans, such as those proposed by Ikea and Next, for the Lower Don Valley area of the city.
“They very much compliment the offering at Meadowhall which is a regional facility and brings shoppers in from much further afield.”
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business, skills and development, said: “We welcome the fact that a company such as IKEA is interested in investing in Sheffield. We’ll be in a position to assess the proposed location once a full planning application is made.”
Ikea said that if its Sheffield development is approved, it would have a store to cater for South Yorkshire so ‘wouldn’t look to develop’ in Doncaster.
However, business leaders in the town have not given up hope the company might change its mind.