Mon, 21 Aug 2017
IKEA has launched a fresh bid to install a towering navigation beacon over its Calcot store.
The Swedish furniture company has applied to build the 57m (187ft) tower, which it says is “intended to aid customer orientation”.
Laying out its case, IKEA said: “Customers are often unfamiliar with the route to the store, so it is important that drivers are made aware of the store’s location as soon as is practicable, to ensure they can make a safe exit from the carriageway.
“The navigation tower affords earlier decision-making for drivers and reduces the risk of traffic accidents as a result.
“An awareness of the store location on the journey to the store will further improve the customer experience when visiting IKEA.”
The application follows IKEA withdrawing plans for a 42m (137ft) tower in February last year.
The plans drew strong criticism from local residents and parish councils, who branded the tower “monstrous” and described it as “a cynical advertising ploy”.
When it turned down plans for the smaller tower, West Berkshire Council said that the structure would have been “entirely unacceptable”.
Speaking about the resubmitted tower plans, Theale’s district councillor Alan Macro (Lib Dem) agreed.
“It’s so awful,” he said.
“It will be visible from miles around and from the conservation area in Theale village.
“They want to put it there so people know where the store is.
“Actually, in some places you might follow it down a dead end like the end of Theale High Street.
“If they have a problem with people finding the store they need better signage on the roads.
“It really is an awful prospect.
“It’s bad enough having the big store there with all the traffic it attracts already.”
Mr Macro said that the increased height might arise from comments made on the previous plans, which indicated that the navigation tower might not be clearly seen from the motorway.
A road safety assessment, submitted with the application, said that there was no significant collision record within the tower’s vicinity.
However, Mr Macro disagreed and said that the tower would be a distraction for drivers, adding that there had been numerous accidents near junction 12 in recent years.
IKEA UK and Ireland real estate manager Tim Farlam said: “We can confirm that IKEA has submitted a planning application to West Berkshire Council to construct a navigation tower at the Reading store.
“A navigation tower would make it easier for IKEA customers to identify the correct junction from the motorway leading to our store, potentially preventing them from a round trip of 24 miles that they would have to travel if they miss the junction.”