The owners of Meadowhall are pressing for a public inquiry over the council’s go-ahead for a £60m IKEA store on their doorstep.
They are raising “serious concerns” over the “severe impact” of the proposed IKEA on surrounding roads, which, it is claimed, were not given sufficient weight when the decision was taken.
The application requires the approval of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles before planning permission is formally granted.
He has the option of ‘calling it in’ – ordering a public inquiry – if he believes fundamental issues remain unresolved – and Meadowhall’s owners say the traffic implications have yet to be addressed satisfactorily.
IKEA was given council approval last June to develop former industrial land off Sheffield Road amid pressure from shoppers, local business leaders and opposition politicians.
Numerous conditions were attached, notably measures to ease the effect of the predicted increase in traffic, especially around M1 junction 34.
Meadowhall says it has no objection in principle to the scheme and the prospect of the regeneration, economic and employment benefits. Some 400 jobs are envisaged.
But it argues that council permission was granted “without the issue of highways impact being adequately addressed or mitigated”. In particular, Meadowhall’s owners fear “significant congestion” along Sheffield Road and the main route between the M1 and the city centre. This would have a “direct impact” on the operation of many businesses in the Lower Don Valley, including Meadowhall.
Because there would be no remaining traffic capacity, it could also affect attempts to ‘unlock’ development land in the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone and at the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Catcliffe as well as vacant land next to Meadowhall.
A public inquiry offers “the most appropriate forum” for the issues to be “robustly examined”, add consultants Deloitte on behalf of Meadowhall in a letter to the Government’s National Planning Casework Unit. A Government verdict is awaited.
The Sheffield IKEA has also prompted concerns from environmental groups about rising air pollution as a result of the extra traffic.
n Car park plan, page 11.