Plans for a £300 million extension to Meadowhall face months of delay over traffic congestion fears.
Highways England has written to Sheffield Council to say it considers the current information provided by Meadowhall relating to the road layout around the proposed Leisure Hall to be ‘inadequate’.
It has asked for a six-month delay on the decision over whether to grant planning permission to allow a ‘full and proper assessment’ to take place.
Concerns have been highlighted about the potential impact of the expansion plans on two nearby roundabouts which access the M1 at Junction 34.
A decision on the plans was originally due by mid-February.
The formal recommendation from the Highways Agency, which has now been made public, was sent on November 25, asking for the decision to be postponed until May 25 at the earliest.
A Highways England report sent to Sheffield Council said: “The priority for Highways England with regards to this application is to consider the impact of development generated traffic at both roundabouts, particularly given the known capacity constraints at Junction 34.
“We have reviewed all the information provided and we have concern that the information at this stage in inadequate in order to make a full and proper assessment of the impact of the development proposals on the Strategic Road Network.
“We are currently working with the developer’s consultants in order to progress matters.
“We therefore recommend that planning permission should not be granted for a period of six months from the date of this formal recommendation to allow time for a full and proper assessment of the impact of these proposals and resolve any issues.”
The 330,000 sq ft extension to Meadowhall is due to include a state-of-the-art cinema, new restaurants, a gym and leisure space that could potentially be used for activities such as indoor golf and ten-pin bowling.
Meadowhall owners British Land say the Leisure Hall extension will create 1,400 jobs and it is hoped it could open by early 2021.
A transport assessment by Peter Brett Associates on behalf of Meadowhall as part of the application said that Sheffield Council modelling has indicated the area around Junction 34 is ‘likely to be subject to increased delay and queuing by 2026 as a result of committed development’ such as the new Ikea store and the Olympic Legacy Park.
But it added: “The additional traffic generated by The Leisure Hall provides only a minor additional impact on the operation of the highway network.”
The assessment added that a highway improvement strategy has been put forward as part of the application, calling for road widening work around the area and extra night-time bus services.
It said: “Overall, the modelling work indicates that the highway impacts of The Leisure Hall are quite modest and that the identified improvements at the M1 Junction 34 (north and south) will more than mitigate the impacts of the development and will go a long way toward ensuring a resilient network to serve Meadowhall.”