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Ikea plan continues to divide opinion

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A group has been created on the social networking website, Facebook, opposing a proposed Ikea store in Calcot

PLANS by Swedish furniture giant Ikea to build a store in Calcot continue to divide opinion, as a group opposing the proposed development has been created on the social networking website, Facebook.

The Facebook group ‘No to Calcot Ikea' is still in its infancy, but has attracted the attention of a group of Calcot residents, who have asked Reading West MP Alok Sharma to help them oppose the large development when the planning application details are submitted to West Berkshire Council.

A message to the Facebook group followers, regarding the Ikea development, states: “This development will destroy a nice quiet area. Put this development in the unused business park on J11 of the M4 which has the infrastructure to handle the traffic.”

Followers are then invited to voice their concerns, the majority of which centre around the impact that the site might have on the adjacent M4 and A4 road network.

A spokeswoman for Ikea, Viky Anderson, said the concerns of residents and local councillors over the impact of traffic had been taken on board during the consulation process, which ran through September and October, and took in the views of over 400 attendees to four public exhibitions, as well as 350 written and 400 email responses.

She added that the majority of comments were supportive of a store in West Berkshire, as well bringing the site back into productive use and providing a diverse range of employment opportunities. She said that once a transport solution had been agreed, a planning application would be submitted.

“Detailed discussions with the council and Highways Agency have been ongoing in order to arrive at an acceptable highways solution and Ikea is confident that agreement will be reached in the near future,” she said.

“An enhanced transport solution is in the process of being discussed with the relevant highways authorities, details of which will be provided both on the project website and in our briefing note to interested parties once agreement has been reached. It is in Ikea's commercial interests to provide a workable scheme and therefore significant consideration has been given to this aspect of the project.”

The Ikea store claims it will be 100 per cent renewable and the firm is currently hoping to incorporate green technologies such as Geo thermal heating, rainwater harvesting, composting of food waste, solar panels and zero waste to landfill.

The development has also been backed by Paul Britton, spokesman for the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Group.

"As the body responsible for inward investment into Berkshire, Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce welcomes the investment proposed by Ikea, which is particularly significant in the current economic environment. There were several aspects of the proposal that are well received, most notably significant employment generation during both the construction process and upon commencement of retail operations.”

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