Wed, 13 Sept 2017
OBJECTIONS are stacking up against IKEA’s plans to build a navigation tower at its store in Calcot.
The Swedish furniture giant wants to build the 187ft tower to make drivers “aware of the store’s location as soon as is practicable, to ensure they can make a safe exit from the carriageway”.
It added that, as a trip to IKEA was not a daily occurrence for most customers, “an awareness of the store location on the journey to the store will further improve the customer experience when visiting”.
But the prospect of a towering beacon has led residents to submit 13 letters of objection to West Berkshire Council.
Calcot resident Kevin Flood said: “This will be an eyesore and is not required. If folks don’t know where IKEA is, that’s a marketing issue that we as residents shouldn’t have to suffer for.”
Reading resident Alan Smith said he would have to drive past “the eyesore” on his way to work.
“This is simply an advertising sign and would be a blot on the landscape, spoiling the view for miles around,” he said.
“The idea that the sign helps navigate to it is a joke.
“It’s at junction 12 – after that, trying to follow the tower rather than the road signs will result in more accidents, not less.
“The precedent set potentially allows for 50m high golden arches over McDonald’s at Reading services, giant KFC signs at Chieveley and, before long, a string of American highway-style signs destroying our countryside.”
The director of the Englefield Estate, Edward Crookes, said the tower would have an unacceptable impact on the landscape.
The estate manages 14,000 acres of land in West Berkshire and Hampshire and Mr Crookes said that the tower would be “highly visible from numerous viewpoints within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including the registered parkland”.
IKEA withdrew an application for a smaller, 137ft tower in February last year, after West Berkshire Council advised that it would have been “entirely unacceptable”.
The smaller tower also drew the ire of residents and local parish councils, with Holybrook, Theale and Tidmarsh with Sulham all objecting.
Restating their objections, Tidmarsh and Sulham Parish Council said the tower was a “solution to a non-existent problem and uses the facade of being a navigational aid to conceal the primary purpose of advertising”.
It said: “The council considers that there is no practical reason why this tower should not have been included in the original application for the store and concludes that, had it been, it would have afforded substantial grounds for outright refusal.”
A decision is expected from West Berkshire Council by Monday, October 2.