Greenwich Council ignores locals and backs new Ikea store

Woolwich Road, 22 February 2014

The planning board ignored worries about traffic congestion on the Woolwich Road

Greenwich Council’s planning board ignored well over an hour of public criticism last night to back outline plans by furniture giant Ikea to build a store in east Greenwich.

The seven-strong board split on party lines to endorse the proposal, with the council’s Labour leader Chris Roberts among the five members backing the scheme – despite Labour councillors and candidates joining opponents to speak out. The two Conservatives opposed the scheme.

The decision is just an outline approval – Ikea will have to return to the council at a later date with detailed plans before construction can go ahead on the site currently occupied by the “eco-friendly” Sainsbury’s store, which is relocating to Charlton.

Greenwich planning officers said Ikea was considering subsidising delivery for those who use public transport to get to the store, although neither they nor Ikea representatives were clear about what this would mean.

Members of the public spoke for an hour and quarter on the scheme, with nobody supporting it. Opponents included Labour councillors Mary Mills and Alex Grant.

“So many people have got in touch with me – there’s so much wrong with this, I can’t go into detail,” Peninsula councillor Mills said.

“When I was elected 14 years ago, it seemed as if Greenwich had taken on board sustainability. It seems like we’re running away from that now.”

Blackheath Westcombe councillor Alex Grant also recalled approving the original Sainsbury’s scheme as “a rookie councillor”, branding traffic predictions “nonsense”. He suggested Ikea be invited to select a more suitable site.

Greenwich & Woolwich parliamentary candidate Matt Pennycook acknowleged the promised 400 jobs – “the people who will benefit are not in this room” – but added he was “extremely concerned” about traffic and pollution.

“Too much rests on underlying assumptions which may not be realised,” he told the planning board.

Greenwich Council planning board, 3 March 2014

One resident of Greenwich Millennium Village told the board: “Common sense tells me this will be a nightmare for the area if it goes ahead. We’re not an out-of-town shopping centre, we’re a thriving community.”

Other residents questioned why Ikea was unwilling to compromise its business model, with one pointing out that the store operates a car-free model in Hong Kong.

Charlton Society chair (and Labour council candidate) David Gardner questioned why Ikea aimed for 35% of visitors using public transport in Greenwich, when the Croydon store – which lies off a tram line – only has 28%.

Another local resident, Martin Stanforth, said the Croydon Ikea could not cope with the traffic, adding: “Our streets are not designed for massive amounts of traffic.

“You cannot approve this store until you’ve been to Ikea Croydon on a Saturday afternoon. What’s your legacy going to be?”

But councillors on the board were unmoved – indeed, regeneration cabinet member Denise Hyland asked planning officers from the start of the meeting how the council could enforce conditions if the application was approved.

Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts said he was aiming to reverse the legacy of 1980s car-centric development – but backed the scheme regardless.

Abbey Wood Labour councillor Clive Mardner backed the scheme, emphasising the importance of working with local people and adding: “I assume they’re taking on board air quality.”

Both Conservative councillors on the board opposed the scheme. Blackheath Westcombe councillor Geoff Brighty called the traffic predictions “laughable”.

Veteran colleague Dermot Poston (Eltham North) called the existing Sainsbury’s store “revolutionary” and “beautiful” – which led to him being accused of “playing to the gallery” by Roberts in a meeting which is supposed to be non-partisan.

Poston also questioned the lack of environmental impact assessment, and accused the council of arrogance for ignoring the 20th Century Society’s application to have the Sainsbury’s building listed.

But in the end, the board appeared determined to back the scheme – no matter how shaky the case, or how much Chris Roberts’ own Labour councillors and candidates opposed it.

For tweets from last night’s planning board, take a look at this Storify page.

Votes for: Steve Offord (Lab, Abbey Wood/ housing cabinet member), Clive Mardner (Lab, Abbey Wood), Denise Hyland (Lab, Abbey Wood/ regeneration cabinet member), Chris Roberts (Lab, Glyndon/ council leader), Ray Walker (Lab, Eltham West/ chief whip).
Votes against: Geoff Brighty (Con, Blackheath Westcombe), Dermot Poston (Con, Eltham North)

44 comments

  1. runner500

    Depressing but completely predictable news; a decision taken far too quickly and with far too little thought for the impact but one that will have huge implications for both the immediate area and traffic over a wide area. Thanks for the excellent report back.

  2. Steve

    Some on the Council appear to have forgotten who they work for, I’m sure they’ll remember on the run up to May.
    Thanks for the updates Darryl.

  3. clogsilk

    A few things spring to mind: it’s not surprising nobody turned up to support the scheme, the nature of this type of meeting is that only people who are opposed will go along to state their case. Particularly in this instance when it was pretty clear from the outset that it was likely to be approved – why bother going along in that case?

    I’m not an expert on planning law, but I assume given what’s already on the site, the board would have to find pretty strong arguments to reject the application?

    And I’d hardly call the Sainsbury’s building beautiful. I’ve always found it an unpleasant place to shop, and the roof always seems to be leaking. And Comet is just a grey box.

    BUT, that is no reason to rush this application through like this – that I think is unacceptable. Ikea should have been asked to do a more detailed environmental assessment, with proper traffic modelling and proper analysis of the impact on air pollution. It seems pretty obvious to me that the store will generate traffic demand that simply wasn’t there before. And Sainsbury’s is only going down the road, where it’s already busy with traffic too. I would be pretty pissed off if I were the Odeon or B&Q too.

    I think the council ought to have perhaps stepped back a bit and admitted that allowing all these out-off-town retail barns into the area was actually a mistake.

    I assume this was rushed through to get it approved before May’s election – stops it being an election issue and means Mr Roberts gets his way before any changes to the council or the planning board.

  4. marymills

    Clare – yes – but as I understand it (and I wasn’t on the Council then) the retail barns in Bugsby’s Way initially went through on Planning Appeal – the wretched Inspectorate again. I know the Planning Board of the day turned down the Cinema – I think they turned it down twice. And of course IKEA would have been off to the Inspectorate with far more money to spend on lawyers than the Council has. Once one development has got in then the rest have to follow – keep an eye on the housing development known as 40 Victoria Way – which the Council didn’t want, and turned down twice. The Planning Inspector overruled the UDP to allow housing there – and of course the whole site will soon be more pokey little flats.
    I think there are a lot of issues about IKEA coming onto that site – not the least about sustainability for much of the housing planned for the Peninsula and that will partly determine the make up of the future population of the area.
    I also think the whole issue of the decision is a complex one – and one which I am not going into here. As I keep saying – just wait for my memoirs!

  5. theprofligatebonvivant

    When I arrived in the area a little over three years ago, I caught a bus to North Greenwich. We didn’t know anything about the Sainbury’s, but as we passed it my wife and I commented how great it was to have something of (contemporary) architectural merit in the area. Especially when compared to much of the dross in that area. I can scarcely believe it is even being considered for demolition.

    It’s a mark of the power of this kind of passive corporate fascism, abundantly evident during the Olympics, and the impotence of democracy in its face, that a building like this can’t be repurposed despite the will of the people.

  6. tabby316

    Thank you Darryl for all the info. The peninsula is already effectively cut off from the rest of Greenwich by traffic. It’s clearly not the right place to build IKEA which will be completely different to traffic for Sainsbury’s . IKEA has a massive influx of weekend and bank holiday shoppers-who will be using their cars whatever anyone says.

  7. Steve

    There does seem to be a correlation between this and the planned cinema & flats in Eltham – one of parking.
    I suppose complaints about parking will fall down the hole that is roads/traffic. Do GC departments talk to each other and what have roads/traffic had to say about any of these developments I wonder?
    Perhaps a copy of Sim-City would help.

  8. Mr GD

    I Like the idea of having an IKEA store close by but have grave concerns about the absolute chaos that will engulf the area, A2, A20 and all roads to Charlton will be a nightmare. And what about Charlton Home matches and O2 afternoon shows ? Has any one thought about the Public safety issues with the moving and loading of goods. The IKEA’s I have shopped at open into their own car parks. The Sainsburys car park is across a main road. What’s going to happen to the buses when hordes of heavy laden flat back trolleys are trailing out the store ?

  9. Sophie Howard

    Thank you for an excellent summary of last night’s Planning Board.

    I was the speaker who gave the example of the car free IKEA stores in Hong Kong. There are two stores in HK where customers can visit the showroom, pick up small items in the market hall and order larger items for delivery. If IKEA were genuinely committed to sustainability, this is the model they would propose. If they build a full size store with a self service furniture warehouse, people will drive to collect their flat pack furniture. The only way to realistically prevent this is not to make this available as an option.

    Strangely, IKEA confirmed at the meeting that there could be no compromise on delivery charges (these are dictated centrally from outside the UK), but said simply that, if their (grossly underestimated) traffic predictions did not come good, they would take steps to sort it out.

    Councillors who voted in favour seemed to think that the issues would be resolved through a traffic plan. No traffic plan can increase the capacity of the roads in the area and, if a full size IKEA is built, nothing will stop people travelling by car to collect furniture from the self service warehouse, especially as IKEA said that they cannot reduce delivery charges.

    The planning officer himself predicts a self-controlling chaos in which customers who find it a nightmare to park and get stuck in traffic in our local road network decide not to visit the store by car the next time. Perhaps they will also decide never to come back to grid-locked Greenwich again full-stop? No-one talked about the impact of the traffic chaos on other businesses in the area, but I guess that is as irrelevant as the impact on local residents who presented eloquently and passionately on this subject last night.

  10. fromthemurkydepths

    Odd that the 3 Abbey Wood Councillors are all on the planning board and always seem to dutifully back the leader pushing through schemes with their votes. Yet they don’t get anything in return for the Abbey Wood area in terms of investment or improvements. It’s probably seen less council cash than anywhere in the borough in the past 20 years. Another reason must be driving them to always back the leader.

  11. shivanee

    I live very near the site in GMV and attended last night’s meeting. I was sceptical about Ikea and not excited of potentially having window views of the blue box. I didn’t speak but would have asked a bus-related question if permitted. Was very surprised that free delivery was posed as a solution to traffic and pollution ? Deliveries will probably end up increasing white van traffic on local bottlenecks during the week.

    However, I actually left the meeting thinking Ikea is probably the most favourable option to take over the Sainsbury’s site. The numerous protestations actually failed to suggestt any alternative leaseholders or uses for the two plots. The Sainsbury building was exemplified as great architecture. But it’s roof leaks and running energy costs are well known. What non-food retailer is going to want to take over the site?

    As a local resident, the last thing I want is a half vacant retail plot – that deters investors and future homeowners. The Comet site was already vacant for over a year. A John Lewis Homehme would be lovely, but there’s already a Waitrose Home at Canary Wharf and JL at Stratford Westfield. M&S is already at the Charlton retail park and again, there’s a large store at Westfield. Ikea-owned Habitat hasn’t expanded out of town and is nowadays selling stock through Argos anyway.

    So what are the alternatives? Topps Tiles, Big Yellow Storage (Catford), Halfords, a huge Decatholon (Canada Water), CostCo or an even bigger TK Maxx? Would we want a Mecca Bingo? Budget hotels like Travel Lodge and Premier Inn would suit the site but they are not known for their design aesthetics and probably meet local opposition.

    Don’t love retail parks but this at least is tempered by the supermarket, with cinema and only a couple of useful shops – in a self-enclosed compact site. I certainly do not want to live next to an extension of the grotty Charlton retail park, a miserable experience which I wholly avoid by tubing to Canary Wharf or Westfield. Give me Ikea over any bland Furniture Village or DFS – it has a much better fit with the GMV community and complements the B&Q and Odeon,who I imagine are now quite pleased as they will benefit from increased footfall.

    But I am genuinely interested to know what realistic alternatives can those who oppose Ikea suggest?

  12. runner500

    I am not sure that I am in a position to suggest alternative uses for the site, that is for planners, other stores and developers. I would not even be opposed to IKEA if they had sorted out the parking issues. However, they seem to have been glossed over and Greenwich will be left with a store the same size as those at Thurrock and Croydon but on a site with 2/3 the parking of their counterparts, but the spaces have to be shared with the Odeon and B&Q. Like some of their furniture, it really doesn’t stack up very well….

  13. natgrove

    Have any members of the council ever been on the peninsula on a Sunday afternoon when the tunnel is closed north-bound and there is hours of gridlock? Have they ever been there on a weekday morning when there I’d a one boat ferry and traffic is crawling even though it is nearly lunchtime? Do they think over-night the British user o Ikea will suddenly leave their car at home?

    As for the whole scheme… I’d be interested to know (and when I have the time I guess I will look it up):
    – who owns the land?
    – what does the local development plan have to say about the area?
    – what use class designations are in place? Can they justify changing the balance?
    – given the enthusiasm (?) for sustainability (three bins anyone?) are there measures in place to ensure this development keeps pollution down?

    Yes, I need to spend several hours reading the planning documents and Council policy.

    I suspect that this story is not over yet.

  14. DB

    I also spoke at the meeting and was appalled that the genuinely valid questions and concerns raised were mostly left unanswered. Even the conditions proposed by the councillors who approved the scheme (free delivery, etc) were essentially refused by Ikea… yet they still approved it anyway. Interesting that the recommendation for approval and the absence of an EIA were both attributed to the site’s suitable ‘out of town centre’ location, yet Councillor Roberts actually approved the scheme in the interests of ‘encouraging shops back to our town centres and ending the mistakes of out of town shops’.

    Regarding the point above about suitability: obviously the most suitable new tenant would be another food retailer. However, Sainsbury’s put paid to that by installing a covenant preventing this if and when they leave. Not really sure of the legalities/possibilities surrounding this, but perhaps a different tact would be to campaign to have this covenant removed? On Ikea’s own suitability: this has nothing to do with their offering or brand – rather that their numbers, particularly on traffic, do not stack up. Not in a million years.

  15. marymills

    - quick note to Natgrove – as a member of the council (for the next couple of weeks anyway) who goes to the Peninsula and is stuck in the jams daily and who spoke against the scheme anyway at the meeting
    – the land is all owned by the GLA but there are leases to various parties on all of it,
    you need to look up the masterplan and so on and interpret itself for yourself. BUT it is my understanding that Sainsburys have insisted on an agreement with future users that no grocery store is to be allowed.
    The whole of the Peninsula is a Low Emmission Zone – need to talk to the EHOs about that

    As a brief historical note – the whole of that site where the shops are was allotments plus some very goofd sports centre facilities until the mid-1980s. (we are desperate for both now!)

  16. Shivanee

    Mary – can we have more information on why the council allowed Sainsburys to withdraw from the site and expand at Charlton – which is further away from the nearby Peninsula and East Greenwich communities that this store serves? Moving to Charlton will surely cause more traffic up there and will not be as accessible by bus? Many people do go to the store by bus – check the outside bus stops.

    I am surprised that RGB has selected Sainsburys Local for Greenwich Sq given its behaviour and attitude towards their customers/local community. In fact, it looks like Sainsburys has a bit of monopoloy across this side of Greenwich?

    Another well known supermarket would be castigated by the press, community and council if it was to relocate from a bus-accessible site and stipulate another supermarket cannot enter to serve expanding communities.

    As I noted to you in my email, Asda is not a viable alternative for non-car owners such as myself – typically, many who live in new homes on the peninsula and East Greenwich. What is the council doing about a new supermarket on the Peninsula to serve the increasing no of new homes?

    To me, its Sainsburys that should feel the wrath of the locals. why no protests there? I have already minimised my custom, I prefer Tescos online delivery anyway and prefer to go to Canary Wharf (Waitrose) if I need to do more shopping. However, both E Greenwich and the peninsula still needs a supermarket given the population increase and new schools.

  17. Jonathan Evans

    Just to pick up on Steve’s comments about parking and the Eltham Cinema this was also an issue on the Grove market site which was voted through last week despite lots of objections as well. That is for 144 flats with only 49 car park spaces and the developer basically accepted this was not adequate because they offered to help fund a CPZ consultation in the local area as part of the application to stop their development swamping local roads which are already at capacity anyway. What is particularly noticeable is that there seems no overall strategic view on traffic and parking as a number of the roads which will be covered by any Grove CPZ were stated in the planning application for the local hospital in eltham to be available to patients to park their cars (on the basis that there were no parking restrictions on those roads). I suspect the same will be said about the cinema. Each application is looked at in isolation without regard to other development proposals.

    Otherwise I sympathise with all the objectors who made sound points only to get them ignored by the planning board members. It all sounds depressingly familiar to our experience.

  18. Gabriella

    God help the traffic situation when this is finally approved. I don’t think the council have taken in to account the additional traffic from a new Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury store, and additional retail stores. Ikea, will have a huge catchment and it’s bad enough as it is trying to get along Trafalgar Road at the best of times.

    Bit silly to approve a new store with inadequate parking and no sustainable transport strategy.

    An IKEA bus service paid for by Ikea and calling at various places might have been a viable alternative.

    As for the Sainsbury building, it’s not worth saving as it always leaks the same with Comet next door now Matalan.

    I think IKEA would be better off taking both B and Q building and the cinema and restaurants which could be relocated elsewhere. Then IKEA could have the whole site.

    I do pity people living near this though.

  19. Frustrated

    Great report!

    I reviewed the documents thoroughly, researched what you could and could not object to, objected in writing and then attended the meeting and spoke out against the proposal. But I am not an expert in planning laws and have a full time job and family. I would estimate IKEA will have put maybe a man years effort into their case using experts in planning applications.

    Unfortunately Mary Mills is right in both her notes. Sainsbury’s apparently have a restrictive covenant on the existing building meaning affordable food retailers like LIDL or ALDI could not take it over even if they wanted to. So a shop designed for food retail cannot legally be used for food retail. There seems to be little that can be done about that apart from Sainsbury’s being magnanimous. Also current planning law means that the council’s hands are somewhat tied. The votes against from the Conservatives were welcome, but symbolic rather than based on the restrictions of the tightly regulated planning framework.

    Air quality was probably the only sensitive issue for the council, but even that IKEA can argue has nothing to do with traffic at this new store – its really because we clearly need more tunnels under the Thames and a down-grading of the Woolwich Road. The case by IKEA was that it is already a retail site and it won’t have any more visitors than other stores that could be built there. They produced pages of numbers to support it which the planning department and tfl accept.

    At the end of the session one of the IKEA representatives announced that the average time an IKEA visitor spent in store was two hours. That is not in the report and it does mean that based on IKEA’s own numbers the car park will overflow at weekends even with 35% coming by Public Transport. The impact of that is obvious and extremely significant. But don’t get too excited, IKEA have a great way out of this. Boris Johnson’s London Plan actively restricts the amount of parking for stores to force people to come by public transport. The great irony is that there is actually too much parking at this site so in the report IKEA have to refer to just the spaces outside the IKEA store to meet this regulation. In reality this policy is meant to put off stores that are not public transport friendly, but of course you can easily play the system when you have enough time and that’s what IKEA have done – especially as they were refused planning permission next to the A20 because it was not (ha ha) on enough Public Transport routes. So there you have it – even an overflowing car park is good and in line with the planning regulations and just in case you find that hard to believe this is explicitly stated in the report – that there will be traffic disruption until people learn to keep away in cars and use public transport.

    As a previous commentator here said, I do think the Planning Department and Planning Board could have taken a stronger line based on IKEA’s open intransigence of not making any changes whatsoever to their retail model to actually encourage public transport. At one point when challenged on delivery charges I recall an IKEA representative explained people could use taxi’s – clearly that’s not a car then.

    As far as I can see there are only three ways left to stop this development:

    1) Boris Johnson rejects it (unlikely as tfl are already OK with it and it won’t be built until after he needs to meet his nitrogen dioxide emission targets);

    2) the Twentieth Century Society can get the Sainsbury’s building listed (it deserves it, but isn’t really old enough, 30 years is the normal cut-off);

    3) that the Planning Board and tfl will impose such stringent S109 restrictions that IKEA reconsider the viability of this store (unlikely because the most the Planning Board came up with at the meeting was a five year annual independent traffic review).

    So barring a miracle we will get IKEA in East Greenwich and at this point I will just wait and see what happens next. I’ve invested enough time to see you can’t beat the system even if you do all the research although I did enjoy the strange theatre of the Planning Board and do appreciate that at least these decisions are made in public even if I may not like the results.

  20. James

    Sainsburys shareholders should take this case to there AMG. or a better string to make other retailers think twice about about putting these convenient in place would be to for B and Q and Asda to swap sites. poor Trafalgar road,Tesco,Iceland,Co-op,sainsburys,M&S Food and their deliveries,where is Morrisons.waitrose creek bridge is in a silly location. as anyone heard about the old matalan site to include debehams and next home store ?

  21. maryorelse

    Shivanee – I don’t know and I don’t know. Sainsburys at Greenwich Square may have been encouraged by the GLA (who own the site) or the developer rather than the Council but I don’t know and am unlikely to find out.
    I have been arguing the need for food shopping etc.on the Peninsula for months now and not aware than anyone has listened. I am also intrigued that it there is no visitor parking where grocery delivery vans supposed to park when they unload – and there will be a lot of them turning up as the population increases. So we can look forward to a future of roads jammed with Ocado and Sainsburys vans and the buses full up with flat packed furniture.

  22. Steve

    Seems like a lot of bluster designed to obfuscate and an already failing policy of social engineering regarding transport that will collapse spectacularly when Ikea opens.
    Perhaps when they come knocking in the run up to May, ask each councilor that voted in favour, why they didn’t vote against as the majority of residents (according to the report and comments posted here) don’t want it.

  23. Clare

    To be fair Steve, we have no idea what the majority of residents want. We only know what the people who bothered to a) turn up to the meeting or b) post comments here think. That’s a biased sample.

  24. Clare

    You said: “The majority of residents (according to the report and comments posted here) don’t want it.” We don’t know that the majority of residents don’t want it… We haven’t done a random sample survey to find out….

  25. Steve

    From reading the comments both reported and posted here, I can’t be any more clear.

  26. clogsilk

    We don’t know what the majority of residents of Greenwich borough think. We only know what people who spoke at the meeting and commented here think. The majority of residents could be in favour of Ikea, they could be against it. The point is, as no one has asked them, we don’t know!

    People who attend council planning board meetings and comment on blogs are a self-selected sample who almost certainly do not have views representative of your average Joe.

    I think that’s pretty clear.

    *gives up*

  27. fromthemurkydepths

    True clogsilk – most people I know are very enthusiastic about the Ikea. Howver not many live by the areas to be affected by increased traffic.

    I think it’s a real shame when there is such a need for housing and with population growth at current levels, a site such as this is not comprehensively re-modelled to have far more housing. Though I think the Tesco at Woolwich is very unattractive, the principal is sound. Extensive car parking at basement and ground floor levels, then the retail at ground/1st/2nd floors, with a number of storeys of housing above. There are issues of access roads and public transport which would require deep consideration but it is possible with ambitions thinking.

    Across Charlton and North Greenwich there are huge swaths of tarmac and single storey retails barns. It’s an incredibly inefficient use of land. A long term masterplan to remodel the area is needed. The recent masterplan focused upon mainly industrial areas. And in the past year or two at least 5 big applications have gone in which simply replace one retail shed with another.

  28. clogsilk

    I agree about needing a masterplan that replaces some of these retail barns – I said as much in my first comment above (which may be under Clare, depends what mood wordpress is in). The whole area should be remodelled to include more housing.

    I like Ikea but this is the wrong site for it.

  29. shivanee

    Mary, many thanks for the info on Sainsbury’s. Will

    Perhaps the issue was covered by tonight’s Evening Standard? I overheard a couple of girls on the bus very excited about the new store, reading a newspaper. Though they were also trying to figure out where the Sainsbury’s is going. The majority of people in the borough do want the store but needn’t feel they should to turn up at a local meeting to speak out against the campaigners. Also, when I’ve mentioned to another few GMV residents, there has been no reaction.

    Retail sheds are horrible but at least Ikea’s model works on out of town shopping. I am sure it will be popular as customers will get a great retail experience – shopping and then a chance to catch a movie or at least a pizza afterwards. I think many local residents will actually prefer a thriving compact shopping/entertainment park rather than a dumpy retail park with a smelly mcdonalds/kfc drive-thru and bland soulless half-empty warehouses such as those nearby and across SE London.

    Finally, I think the opposers shot themselves in the foot when they suggested free deliveries for local residents after berating the proposals on the grounds of increased pollution!

  30. Darryl

    The majority of people in the borough do want the store but needn’t feel they should to turn up at a local meeting to speak out against the campaigners.

    The majority of people “in the borough” might want an Ikea in Eltham, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea either. (Although it’d be closer to many of those who might want to drive there. Hey, they could get the bus…)

  31. Shivanee

    Fair enough, I don’t know whether there is a majority in the borough in favour of the decision – though that also means those who oppose do not necessarily represent ‘local opinion.’

    Sorry, I don’t understand your point about getting the bus. If there are traffic and pollution problems in the area, shouldn’t people be using public transport more? It sounds as though the main objection to the proposal was car users being annoyed that there would be other people on the road. Yes, SE Lon has historically had a dearth of public transport, but there is also an issue that people do get in their cars to make small local journeys within the borough (i.e. going to the shops or gym).

    Theres no denying there will be traffic and a volume of cars going to Ikea. But their argument that many people will travel by public transport and then deliver is also fair. I’ve done that myself several times because if you are buying lots of furniture, large items (beds, sofa, mattresses and bookcases) or bits & pieces – the Ikea business model, the delivery charge is still less or equal to hiring a car/van. I’ve not seen people on buses going around the North Circular with flatpacks etc.

    I don’t disagree with concerns. I attended because I’m interested on the impact on the bus service as they get clogged in traffic too. Unfortunately, this point wasn’t really scrutinised by the objectors which led me to think many who complain about pollution and traffic are dependent on cars?

    I can see that for a borough decision-maker, these arguments simply don’t stack against:
    1) 480 jobs
    2) Business tax charges
    3) A financial package to benefit the area – addressing roads, buses and community contributions.
    4) increased spend within Greenwich – substantial given the catchment area
    5)Providing residents across the borough and neighboring area with more shopping choices
    6) Certainty of securing future tenants for the sites/retail park – ie. an empty leaky glass building

    Realistically, how can you say no to all that? Like councils or people can just simply pick which businesses they like, and tell them where to set up?!!!!!

  32. Wendy

    Shivanee, it depends what your priorities are as to whether arguments against the proposed Ikea stack up against your list of benefits. Personally, the prospect of yet more pollution from emissions in this part of Greenwich to my mind outweighs your list of perceived benefits (and I would question whether one Ikea really provides that much in the way of ‘more shopping choices’). The potential convenience of not having to travel to Croydon to buy some Billy Bookcases is negated by the likelihood of developing asthma due to the sheer weight of traffic on the Woolwich Road…

    Flippant remarks aside, if there had been more honesty about the ramifications of opening a store on that particular site and some proper proposals from Ikea about how to address the traffic issues, I might have been persuaded in favour. As matters stand, it seems that Ikea are prepared to make it up as they go along in order to get planning permission.

  33. DB

    In some ways, it’s irrelevant whether the majority of Greenwich residents are behind the scheme or not, as it should not be approved if it will increase traffic and pollution in the area (as per the council’s own development policy), yet the numbers Ikea have produced to ‘prove’ this are decidedly dodgy. Even if you support the scheme, it’s clear that the council want this development in spite of public feeling, not because of it.

    On the potential benefits of the development (jobs, revenue, etc) these are potential benefits of ANY scheme, not Ikea in isolation and, arguably, a different, less car-dependent store would produce exactly the same benefits, without the potential traffic issues.

  34. Mark Etherington

    Friday 4pm – Greenwich town centre – eastbound traffic at a virtual standstill. Glad we were coming back from school on foot.
    Saturday 6pm – Trafalgar Road – westbound traffic moving very slowly, cars nose-to-tail all the way. Glad I popped to the shop on foot.
    Sunday 11am – Blackwall Approach – northbound traffic not moving at all. Eventually get moving at a very slow crawl. Kicking myself for driving, when we normally get the bus to and from rugby.

    That’s the traffic situation in Greenwich now. Spring 2014.

    But look at what’s happening in the borough:

    – many more flats, built at very high densities, all the way from Deptford down to Woolwich and beyond

    and

    – more “out of town” shopping developments, including the new (much bigger) Sainsbury’s, the new M&S and Ikea, all of which encourage car use

    So there’s going to be more people in the area, and more reasons for them to drive. How bad is the road congestion going to get? How much worse will the air quality be? Why does no-one (developers, politicians, officials, etc.) seem to think there’s a problem here? A problem which is bad now and can surely only get worse?

    Right – it’s a lovely day. I’m off for a bike ride!

  35. Kate

    @Mark Etherington: agree totally. There is no infrastructure at all to cope with the tens of thousands of new residents that are going to live in all the new flats, which are mushrooming everywhere. Cycled down the Thames Path on friday and was amazed by all the ‘gentrification'; not long now before both sides of the Thames are faceless high rises. Those new residents will have cars on already clogged roads and they will also obviously need hospitals and schools. QEH is already desperately failing and Hunt/govt are currently busy instigating a rushed change in the law to give him/them the right to just close hospitals, so Lewisham A&E is far from safe, despite its judicial review victories. Friends have small children and are already struggling to get them into schools.
    Greenwich & Charlton are both going to be a less agreeable and unhealthier place to live. IKEA though are going to make mega profits from all the furniture that all those new flat owners/renters are going to need.

    How did Sainsburys manage to get a restrictive covenant on the store not being a food store? It’s best suited to that. IKEA should never be allowed a huge retail space in an urban, built up area like Greenwich. Nor should there be constant residential development without accompanying infrastructure. Shame on Council planners.

  36. James

    The Woolwich flyover roundabout SE10 this morning at a stand still this morning very one tooting there horns road rage.this is the second day with the burst Thames Water pipes spraying out water on the pavement and road outside Iceland on Trafalgar Road SE10

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  39. Darryl

    I’ve been contacted by someone keen to start a campaign over the Ikea/Sainsbury’s issue. I’m happy to pass people’s details on if they want.

  40. DB

    As per the post above, I am keen to get together with anyone who, like me, would like to do something about this ill-considered decision. I spoke out against the proposals at the planning meeting, but had to dash off pretty quickly afterwards, so didn’t get anyone else’s contact details. I can sympathise with the frustrations raised by a previous poster on here, as I had to juggle work and family just to review the proposals and speak at the meeting; so I’m going to need a lot of help taking this forward.

    Not really sure what the next steps are. I’m looking into what powers the Environmental Health Officer has and also if there are any grounds for taking legal action as I believe the decision was at least ‘irregular’, if not illegal (NB. I believe a judicial review would have to be requested within six weeks of the decision, so not much time left).

    For now, it would be good to speak to anyone else who feels strongly about this and can dedicate some time to doing something about it… and anyone who can provide free legal advice.

    Thanks,

    Dan

  41. Sophie Howard

    Happy to help. My husband and I both spoke at the meeting, both have to juggle family and full time work, so are operating under the same constraints, but share concerns. I also contacted all the local societies; not sure how much appetite there would be for a legal challenge but all of them, without exception, were concerned and most of them also spoke at the meeting of the planning board. As for judicial review, the people who organised the protest against the partial closure of Lewisham Hospital would be good to speak to; mind you that campaign was more guaranteed to garner public support. The problem with Ikea is that most people like its products and some people simply don’t think ahead to the inevitable traffic chaos which would ensue.

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