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IKEA plans a step closer

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The Swedish furniture giant is set to submit a planning application for a store in Calcot shortly

SWEDISH furniture giant IKEA is a step closer to opening a store in Calcot.

The retail firm famous for its flat-pack furniture is proposing a new store in the Pincents Lane Retail Park, Calcot, Reading, and following four public consultations, in Calcot, Theale and Reading, held to gauge public feeling, IKEA said it would submit planning application before the end of 2010.

A slight delay has forced the firm to move that date to the New Year, but this week a spokeswoman for IKEA, Claire Howes, said: “We have listened to the feedback received through our consultation process with the people of Reading and are now intending to submit our planning application for the IKEA Reading store around early January.”

IKEA bought the 140,000 sq ft Pincents Lane and Berkshire Retail Park site in December 2009 intending to build a store to the north of Pincents Lane, and a 1,400 space multi-storey car park to the south with an overhead connecting walkway.

District and parish councillors in and around Calcot, including ward members Brian Bedwell (Con, Calcot) and Peter Argyle (Con, Calcot) and clerk of Holybrook Parish Council Phil Brown, have warned that with the nearby M4 junction 12 already notoriously busy during peak hours, a lot of thought will need to go into the management of the already busy roads around the proposed store.

A spokeswoman for the Save Calcot Action Group, Joan Lawrie, said that the increased traffic would leave the A4 resembling a car park at certain peak times of the day.

“While it is understandable that people want such a big name to come to Calcot, it must not be at the cost of the surrounding area,” she said.

“Not many people realise the impact this will have on the A4. Junction 12 of the M4 would be an accident waiting to happen.”

She said it may be an uphill battle to fight the proposed development, the group would continue to voice the concerns of the public.

“If John Prescott is unable to block a planning application by IKEA in his home constituency you have to wonder how much success we will have. There is no easy answer. Sometimes you can't fight things that seem inevitable but that doesn't mean we cannot give reasons why we don't want it,” she added.

The consultation period ended on 11 October 2010, although IKEA said it is happy to receive any further comments, and said that hundreds of people had also emailed the company through the website set up to inform people of the development, www.ikea-calcot-consultation.co.uk.

IKEA said it would not comment on the issue of traffic regulation at this time until a planning application had been submitted, but during the four consultations, in which over 500 people attended, it said it planned to stagger its opening hours to reduce congestion, choosing to open at 10am on weekdays.

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