OPINION: Time to give IKEA verdict

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The wait could almost be over for a final decision on Ikea’s proposal to build a £60 million store on the old Tinsley Wire site in Sheffield.

Councillors on the city’s planning and highways committee are expected to cast their votes towards the end of next month, more than a year after the home furnishings company announced its intention to come to Sheffield.

But, of course, negotiations have really been going on much longer than that.

Over a decade ago Ikea first had designs on a site off the Parkway, but this idea was rejected as the site was allocated for industrial use.

An alternative location was considered at White Rose Way, Doncaster, but this did not proceed because of a lack of access from the M18 at the time.

Then three years ago talks switched back to Sheffield.

The few obstacles in the way of building an Ikea off Sheffield Road include the likelihood of increased traffic, and the impact on air quality in the Tinsley area, already a cause for concern.

Meadowhall’s owners are objecting on highways grounds, while John Lewis is also unhappy about the prospect of Ikea luring shoppers away from the city centre.

But these objections hold little water when the Highways Agency says it is satisfied the M1 can cope with the development.

The council is also putting in place measures to revive Sheffield’s new retail quarter – a more appropriate city centre attraction than a large Ikea, which needs the space an out-of-town site can offer.

And now, as we report today, Ikea has offered to stump up £400,000 to ease the fears over air pollution, by converting buses, planting trees and even resurfacing roads.

This demonstrates the company’s commitment, and determination, for an outlet open in Sheffield. Ikea are willing to go arguably above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done, too.

So soon it will be the council’s time to pass its verdict, and The Star hopes the green light is given. Another public inquiry will be embarrassing – and the rest of the city has waited long enough.