PLANNING bosses who refused plans for a huge Next store at Sheffield’s Meadowhall were facing questions yesterday after Swedish furniture giant Ikea unveiled plans for a neighbouring site.
Council chiefs infuriated Lord Wolfson, the chairman of Next, when they threw out a scheme for a homewares and garden outlet, claiming it would have a detrimental effect on the city centre.
A planning appeal is currently pending over the £10m project, and Ikea’s £60m plans will pose similar problems for planners who will have to weigh up its impact on other city businesses.
Sheffield city centre is currently half-empty after a huge “new retail quarter scheme” drawn up by developer Hammerson stalled. Council officials are currently trying to restart the idea.
A new hike in parking fees has also caused upset among city centre traders, but yesterday Ikea said its development would be no threat to businesses in Sheffield’s traditional retail centre.
Ikea first applied to Sheffield Council to build a store in 2001, on the former Yorkshire Electricity depot alongside the Sheffield Parkway. That idea was rejected because the site was not close enough to the city centre.
Ian Nicholson, Ikea’s Sheffield project manager, said the new store would create 700 jobs and added: “We have been looking for a site in South Yorkshire for many years now. Currently customers have to travel to either Leeds or Nottingham.
“An Ikea store in Sheffield will be a major boost to the whole city.”
Ikea’s plans will go on display to the public at exhibitions in Sheffield city centre on Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20.