A major obstacle in the way of an Ikea store in Sheffield has been cleared after the Highways Agency offered no objection to the scheme.
The Government department is satisfied the M1 can cope with the development, which could be built on the site off Sheffield Road in Carbrook near the motorway.
The agency had issued a ‘holding direction’ stalling a decision on the planning application until traffic modelling exercises were completed, because of concerns the store could cause traffic gridlock.
But in a letter to Sheffield Council, asset manager Chris Hardie said: “The strategic road network has the capacity to accommodate the traffic generated by this development.”
Mr Hardie said a ‘robust approach’ had been taken to gauging the impact of an Ikea, but that work may be required at junction 34.
He added: “It is noted that the Don Valley currently suffers significant noise and air quality issues and some areas adjacent to the strategic road network already meet or exceed EU limits.
“There is no doubt that the presence of the M1 through the valley contributes significantly to this. Clearly any extra traffic is likely to have a negative impact on this in the short term.
“Given that the Highways Agency’s role in this matter is limited, we can only seek to assure ourselves that you have taken air quality and noise issues fully into account when making your decision.”
Sheffield Council can now move towards a verdict on whether to give permission for the Swedish homewares firm to open in the city.
Objections have been lodged by John Lewis – which fears a big new Ikea would draw trade away from an already ‘vulnerable’ city centre – and Meadowhall.
Last month the shopping centre’s owners MSC Property Holdings said it still had ‘significant concerns’ over proposals for the £60 million store, which will include a 1,000-space car park.
Meadowhall remains concerned about the prospect of traffic jams on roads in the area, despite potential solutions being found.
A planning decision is expected early this year.