Breaking news:  the application to list the current Sainsbury’s building has been refused, and the Department for Communities and Local Government has decided not to intervene in the planning permission for the proposed Ikea in Greenwich. Please read through for the update.

Many will know that IKEA has applied for outline planning permission to redevelop the Sainsbury/Comet Site on Greenwich Peninsula.

The Council’s Planning Board on the 3rd March backed the outline plans put forward by IKEA for a store in East Greenwich. Voting was 5 to 2 along party lines.

This was despite over an hour of public criticism which mainly centred on concerns  about the extra traffic that would be generated despite the company’s predictions that 35% of customers would use public transport.

Others were dismayed that the “eco-friendly” Sainsbury’s store was to be demolished to make way for the new structure. (The 20th Century Society has applied to have the Sainsbury’s building listed).

This decision is just an outline approval – detailed plans will have to be submitted to the council for approval before construction work can begin.

The Westcombe Society are very concerned about these proposals in particular the implications for traffic in the local area.  We feel that, despite good public transport links to the site, the demand for parking at IKEA has been grossly underestimated and fear that the development will lead to significant traffic congestion and pollution especially at weekends.  We also feel that the Sainsbury Building is exceptional both architecturally and environmentally and should be preserved. For example it was:

    • shortlisted for the Stirling Prize (no supermarket has been shortlisted for this prize before or since)
    • selected by the Design Council as a Millennium Product
    • winner of the RIBA Journal Sustainability Award
    • winner of a RIBA Regional Award 2000
    • given the Design Museum’s Design Sense Award
    • Retail Week Store Design of the Year 2000
    • Channel 4 Building of the Year People’s Choice 2000
    • the first store to be awarded an ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating
    • scored the highest ever environmental rating for a retail building.

We are also concerned that the decision has been made before comments on the proposals have been received from the GLA or the Environment Agency.

Click here for the Westcombe Society Response to IKEA February 2014

The Westcombe Society, and other groups concerned about the plans, wrote to the Mayor of London to ask for a review of the decision, but this was declined.  The No to Ikea Greenwich campaign group made a submission in May 2014 to the Department for Communities and Local Government for a review, but after consideration the DCLG declined to intervene in the planning process.  No to Ikea Greenwich is exploring the prospects for a judicial review of the planning permission.  You can read more on the No Ikea Greenwich website and Facebook page where you can also find ways of being involved.  An online petition gathered over 600 signatures, asking DCLG to reject the application.  Another petition reached nearly 1500 signatures, asking for the preservation of the iconic, innovative Sainsbury’s building on the site.  There is now also a petition asking Sainsbury’s to lift the clauses restricting use of the building to non-food retailing.

Ikea are expected to submit their proposal for the material details of their planned building soon.  The Westcombe Society, in concert with other local amenity societies, has written to Ikea to ask that they use a more innovative, site-specific design for the proposed store, as they have in other urban settings like Hong Kong and Hamburg.  Meanwhile Greenwich planners are negotiating for community benefits as part of the planning process.  We have also co-ordinated a letter to Ikea regarding traffic issues, which we regard as likely to cause major problems given the size of the likely catchment area, current levels of congestion, the new Sainsbury’s/Marks and Spencer development’s traffic impacts, and inadequacy of the current car park which is much smaller than those for other London-area Ikea stores.  Ward councillors are aware of the arguments, both in favour and against the plan.

Local residents are encouraged to lobby their ward councillors, and to ask their friends in other local wards to contact their ward councillors.  Ward councillors can make their residents’ views known to the Planning Board, which will be making final decisions on the plans in due course.

The Submission requesting a Public Enquiry about IKEA can be read here

Click here for a Flyer from No IKEA Greenwich