Store wars – as Meadowhall owner joins Ikea objectors

Artist's impression of Sheffield's planned Ikea store
Artist's impression of Sheffield's planned Ikea store
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Plans for a new Ikea store in Sheffield have been dealt a blow – after Meadowhall shopping centre objected to the scheme on the grounds of traffic.

MSC Property Holdings, the joint venture between British Land and Norge Bank which owns the shopping centre, has submitted a letter and evidence against the plans.

Meadowhall shopping centre

Meadowhall shopping centre

The partnership’s objection comes hot on the heels of one from city centre department store John Lewis, claiming an out-of-town Ikea would damage city centre trade.

Ikea has applied to build a £60 million, 37,000 sq feet store off Sheffield Road, Carbrook – on the former Tinsley Wire Betafence site – creating up to 700 jobs.

British Land, which is also creating a new Next Home and Garden store on nearby Vulcan Road, is previously understood to have been working with Ikea to develop a nearby site for the Swedish furniture chain, before Ikea decided to go it alone in Carbrook. But Mark Underwood, of Deloitte, agent for MSC, said an interim transport assessment of vehicles heading to and from Ikea was ‘inadequate’.

In a letter to planning authority Sheffield Council, he said: “The assessment does not provide sufficient information to allow transport

impacts to be thoroughly assessed in regard to key junctions and additional traffic.

“It is considered the underestimation of the traffic impacts of the development would lead to a failure to propose sufficient highway works to mitigate the likely impacts of the proposed development.”

Mr Underwood said the existing traffic assessment was ‘flawed and therefore not robust’.

Incomplete information in the traffic assessment included lack of estimated traffic for Saturdays – a peak day for Meadowhall – and ‘no reference to existing queuing’ on roads around the Ikea site.

Mr Underwood added the inadequacies had a knock-on effect on the validity of air quality and environmental assessments.

The Highways Agency, which manages the nearby M1, has also issued a notice, backed by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, delaying any decision on planning permission for the store.

It orders that a decision on Ikea is not be made until at least October, giving time for the traffic assessment to be revised.

But Richard Wright, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce executive director, said: “I support Ikea. I am not saying there isn’t an issue about traffic and air quality, but the problem needs to be sorted out, or the same reasons could be used to block any developments in the Lower Don Valley.”

Neil Parry, of environmental campaign group Sheffield East End Quality of Life Initiative, which has also objected to Ikea, said: “To object on traffic grounds is an interesting one to come from British Land – but it backs up our concern that traffic is a legitimate objection that needs to be properly considered.”

The council has welcomed Ikea’s application, but said traffic concerns needed to be resolved.

Coun Julie Dore, council leader, said: “Whether improvements can be made to roads in the Don Valley depends upon resources available and it is likely Ikea would be asked to contribute.

“We welcome Ikea’s decision to come to Sheffield, but transport issues have to be considered as part of the planning application.

“We need to make a decision based upon what is in the best interests of the city.”

Ian Nicholson, Ikea’s Sheffield project manager, said: “As part of the planning process, other retailers and stakeholders are invited to offer comments and representations on planning applications.

“We will respond to these representations in due course, through our continued discussions with the council during the planning process.

“The holding directive from the Highways Agency reflects the importance of ensuring we agree a transport plan which works for all parties, including the Highways Agency, the council, other retailers, Ikea and most importantly, residents in Sheffield.”

A spokeswoman for British Land said: “British Land has been in detailed discussions with Ikea about the impact its proposed store could potentially have on Meadowhall and the surrounding highway networks.

“We are continuing to work with Ikea and the highway authorities to ensure the potential impacts of the proposed store are fully assessed.

“We are supportive in principle of an Ikea, but the local highway network should be properly upgraded to meet the traffic created by the store.”