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New Ikea store is another step closer

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FLAT-pack furniture giant Ikea looks set to get its way over plans to build a new superstore in Calcot – provided agreement can be reached over its developer contributions.
The plans for the new Pincents Lane Retail Park store have been recommended for approval by West Berkshire Council planners in a report to go before tomorrow’s (Wednesday) Eastern Area Planning Committee meeting.
There has been widespread opposition to the plans, with 260 letters of objection citing the scale of the development and its impact on traffic and pollution as the major concerns. There were also concerns expressed over the impact on the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
But there is also much support for the development, with 17 letters written in support and 51 providing comment. Most of those in favour pointed to the positive impact it will have on employment in the area with aaproximately 400 new jobs up for grabs.
Under the plans, a new store will be located at Junction 12 of the M4 near Theale on 140,000 sq ft of land acquired by the firm in December 2009.
The massive three-storey warehouse would be located to the north of Pincents Lane – next to the Sainsbury’s store on the site of Homebase, Carpet Right, a bowling alley and two empty retail warehouses – and a 1,400 space multi-storey car park would be located to the south, with an overhead walkway connecting the two.
West Berkshire Council’s principle planning officer dealing with the application, Emma Fuller indicated that her support for the application flowed from Government policy.
She quoted the Government’s guidance on planning policy as published by The Department for Communities and Local Government which reads: “Local planning authorities should adopt a positive and constructive approach towards planning applications for economic development. Planning applications that secure sustainable economic growth should be treated favourably.”
She said: “This positive approach towards planning for economic development is in line with a number of recent statements from Government about reforming the planning system to positively promote sustainable economic growth and jobs. [This policy] requires all applications for economic development to be assessed against 5 criteria; climate change, accessibility, high quality design, economic and physical regeneration and local employment. Following a review of the application it is considered that the proposal meets with these objectives.”
She also indicated that she thought traffic would be manageable and the impact on the AONB was lessened by the fact that the site is located in a current brownfield site.
Ikea’s project manager for the proposed store, Roger Cooper, said: “Since submitting our planning application in February 2011, we have continued to work closely with West Berkshire Council to review the application proposal as well as consider the various comments raised by the local community. Where possible, we have sought to address and agree on improvements to the scheme.
“We submitted the revised plans to the West Berkshire planning authority on the 9th January 2012.
“We hope that the revisions will enable our application to be.”

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