Pressure to allow an IKEA store to be built on an industrial site between Meadowhall and the retail park has increased as a result of the Next appeal verdict - but the council is being warned by one of Sheffield’s most important retailers of the potential threat to the city centre.
Through its property advisers, John Lewis is making clear its fears over the potential impact of an IKEA, challenging some elements of the case the Swedish chain has made to the council.
“Contrary to the applicant’s arguments, the proposed IKEA store will compete with the city centre’s anchor stores such as John Lewis, Debenhams and BHS, all of which offer furniture and homeware goods and generate expenditure from this offer,” says the objection.
“We also consider that the proposal will not facilitate linked trips with the city centre and will not accordingly enhance the market share of the city centre.
“IKEA is predominantly a car reliant store and we strongly disagree that consumers will travel to the city centre as part of linked trip with the store.”
Property advisers CBRE say the city centre is already “in a very vulnerable position as a result of the lack of major retail development in recent years in comparison with its competing regional centres”.
The average shop vacancy level is 23%, double the national average.
Meanwhile, Sevenstone has been delayed and reduced is scale.
“The critical status of the Sevenstone development has already had a knock-on effect in investor and retailer confidence.
“In the context of this climate, any approval for large out-of-town retail development would send a further detrimental message to investors and stakeholders that, in conflict with national planning policy guidance, the city centre is not being prioritised for development or protected as a regional shopping destination.
“Without investor confidence in the Sevenstone scheme, the required funding to implement the scheme will not be obtainable. This will result in the further decline of Sheffield city centre which will continue to lose out to competing centres.”
A John Lewis spokesperson said this week: “Our focus remains working with Sheffield City Council on the viability and vitality of the city centre.”
A council decision on the IKEA application is months away while a mass of information about the predicted impact on retail patterns, traffic flows and air pollutions is analysed.
While the authority accepts that a new retail quarter is crucial to the future of the city centre, it argues that the redevelopment of The Moor is helping to restore its economic fortunes.
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