The Ikea development in Sheffield included transport improvements which were required to deal with the increase in traffic and resulting congestion and air pollution. Sheffield Council claimed they had played ‘hardball’ with Ikea to secure £15 million towards these transport upgrades.
These upgrades should have included a 900 metre (about half a mile) cycle path along Sheffield Road and Attercliffe Common to connect cycle routes at Next Home and Carbrook Hall. From 2013 onwards there were detailed discussions between council officers and Ikeas transport consultants WYG over the cycle route and designs were produced.
The provision of this infrastructure was part of the 2nd condition for planning approval for the store but the cycle route has not been built. The construction of a very short path by the side of the store was condition 13 and this has been built.
Today (17/09/2018) we have written to Jack Scott (cabinet member for transport), Tom Finnegan-Smith (head of Strategic Transport and Infrastructure) and Steve Wilson (the Sheffield Council cycle champion) about the lack of cycle infrastructure around the Ikea store.
Dear Jack, Tom and Steve,
I am writing to you on behalf of CycleSheffield regarding the Sheffield Ikea store.
One of Sheffield Council’s conditions for planning approval for the store was cycling infrastructure improvements along Sheffield Road and Attercliffe Common to create a cycle route between Vulcan Road and Arena Square.
These improvements have not been implemented, neither have any designs been submitted for these improvements. These are clearly now well overdue.
Please can you ensure these improvements are delivered in full as soon as possible and keep CycleSheffield updated with the progress on this issue.
For reference I have attached the decision notice in full with the relevant sections highlighted yellow.
We finally received a response from Jack Scott (cabinet member for transport), copied in below. Basically the cycling condition was so poorly written that it is unenforceable and therefore no cycling infrastructure will be delivered as part of the Ikea development. Whilst improvements to the planning process should ensure that this situation does not happen again it is quite shocking that a development of this size, with such a protracted planning process which raised major concerns about air pollution and public health will not provide any of the promised cycle infrastructure.
We will be discussing the changes to the planning process with council officers to make sure we are happy with them.
First of all, thank you for raising this issue with me and please accept my apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
As you have pointed out the wording of condition 2 is less than ideal and leaves room for manoeuvre on the improvements that the developer had to provide. In order to ensure that this does not happen again, officers from Transport Planning and Highways Development have reviewed the process by which conditions for cycling improvements are worded and agreed before they are included in any proposed planning permission. Following this review in future developers will be required to indicate what is proposed for cyclists on a plan(s). The plan to be annotated with required widths, method of segregation, etc., depending on what is required in the circumstances. The plan drawing number will be referred to in the conditions. This should make it quite clear what is required to all.
With outline planning applications it will sometimes be difficult to indicate what is required on a plan internal to the site – there may not be a road layout and the precise mix of uses may and therefore the amount and type of traffic, may not be known. In such circumstances Highways Development will liaise with Transport Planning (and Planning Development officers if appropriate) to provide a suitable condition(s).
With regard to Ikea condition 2, the general consensus is that it would be difficult to enforce it due to its lack of clarity and also as the construction works finished some time ago. I do believe with the above measures in place that the Ikea situation should not arise again.
We have written to Javier Quinones the CEO of Ikea UK and Ireland, and to Ikea’s UK Head of Sustainability:
I am contacting you as a member of CycleSheffield. I apologise for troubling you, but this concerns a matter which I expect will require a decision at a senior level. As part of the new IKEA development in Sheffield a new cycle route should have been constructed. However, the planning condition for this was poorly written by the council planners, the cycle route has not been constructed and the Council feel that they cannot enforce the condition.
Whilst it may be legally unenforceable it would still be great if IKEA could complete the route as a goodwill gesture – giving the opportunity for IKEA to benefit from being seen to do the right thing, and provide the cycle path after all. This would also fit well with IKEA’s sustainable/green credentials.
Would you please reconsider IKEA’s position on this matter, and let me know how you intend to proceed? CycleSheffield would, of course, be very willing to help promote the good news should IKEA agree to do this. BBC Look North is already interested, as is of course the local press.
To assist, I attach the Planning Consent letter dated 16 January 2015 with the relevant sections highlighted in yellow. If you would like any further information please just let me know.
Response from Ikea’s Real Estate Asset Manager on 07/02/2019
Thanks for your email. We are sorry to hear that you’re disappointed with the final result as we are proud of measures we have taken to improve the cycling infrastructure (as detailed in my previous email). IKEA fulfilled, to the satisfaction of the Council, all that was asked of us in our conditions of planning.
Any further improvements will be at the discretion of Sheffield Council.
Real Estate Asset Manager
Real Estate Property
IKEA Properties Investments Limited