Protesters have vowed to take legal action over concerns a Sheffield Ikea will impact on air quality and health in their community.
Objectors said the increase in the existing level of air pollution from the £60m superstore - described by the council as ‘marginal’ – would ‘exacerbate health inequalities’ in Tinsley.
The city’s director of public health, Dr Jeremy Wight, said the increase would ‘undoubtedly cause more illness’ and probably a very small number of additional premature deaths.
In his view there were no mitigation measures that could be put forward to alter his conclusion.
Muzafer Rahman, from Tinsley Residents’ Group, called for an independent inquiry, and environmental law organisation Client Earth also believes the decision to be ‘unlawful’ and ‘susceptible to judicial review’, the meeting was told.
Mr Rahman, a Tinsley resident, told councillors: “Who needs jobs when we are going to die early? I think this is a circus because our lives are being destroyed.
“If you refuse to consider that Ikea should not be there, and you allow it, we will seek legal advice, we will go to the European Parliament.
“We will see a solicitor to protect our lives and preserve the lives of our children.”
Protesters later stormed out of the meeting - with Mr Rahman telling councillors: ‘You will be hearing from us’ - as they started to voice comments of approval.
Sheffield is one of nine urban areas breaching safe levels of air quality.
The meeting was told the proposal was contrary to planning policy on air quality but was not in direct contrast to the council’s air quality action plan set up to tackle the problem.
That same plan does not state a development should be refused if it results in additional pollution, planning officers told the meeting, and it was a ‘judgement’ to be made.
The complex and ‘difficult’ issue had to be weighed against the benefits.
The location on the old Tinsley Wire site would be the ‘most sustainable you can imagine’ with access on the doorstep by tram, train and bus.
Ikea was praised for making every effort to mitigate the problem - with tree planting, public transport schemes, electric vehicles and free delivery.
Councillors said the plans had been a ‘long time coming’, would regenerate the area and bring much-needed jobs – but recognised it was an ‘emotive’ subject.
Steve Pettyfer, Ikea UK’s deputy property manager, said the firm would deal with legal challenges if and when they arose.
He added: “It’s a difficult subject and we really have done as much as we possibly can to mitigate air quality issues. On balance the benefit of the 400 jobs, the £60m worth of development, and saying that Sheffield is open to business, says this is a good thing for the city.”