Ikea seeks to overcome possible delay in Dublin

 

Retail furniture giant Ikea is to immediately seek a meeting with the National Roads Authority (NRA) and Fingal County Council to advance its plans for a major Dublin store.

The company yesterday received approval from An Bord Pleanála for its planned 30,000sq m store near the Ballymun interchange of the M50. However, the project could be delayed for several years because, under a key condition attached to the planning approval, the store cannot be opened until the upgrade of the interchange is completed.

Ikea said yesterday it could be trading by August 2008 with 500 people employed. But the NRA, which opposed the project at a Bord Pleanála hearing in March, said it could not give an assurance the road work would be completed by then.

A spokeswoman for the NRA said yesterday that the upgrade of the Ballymun interchange was part of phase two of the upgrade of the M50, and the contract for this work would be awarded "later this year". It was not due for completion until 2010.

The importance of the issue was noted during the planning appeal hearing by Bord Pleanála inspector Keith Sargeant, who said the project could become a "white elephant" if forced to lie idle for a year or more pending the upgrade of the road infrastructure.

Manager of Ikea's Irish affairs Garry Deakin told The Irish Times yesterday the company could not countenance a situation where some 500 staff were employed and the store ready to trade, but the Ballymun interchange was not ready. The company was seeking an immediate meeting with Fingal County Council and the NRA to resolve the issue.

"It's a condition against us and we are not going to break any of the conditions," he said, but added that "Ikea would fight incredibly strong using all of its partners in Ireland saying 'what is it that would stop us upgrading a road?' "

The planning approval was welcomed by Ballymun Regeneration Ltd which said the jobs represented "an important boost to the continued economic regeneration of the area". Ikea would attract other large employers, it predicted.

Minister for the Environment Dick Roche, who amended retail planning guidelines to facilitate Ikea, also welcomed the jobs boost for the area.

However, Green Party TD Eamon Ryan, who objected to Ikea's plans largely because of the congested nature of the M50, said he was "disappointed" by the decision. He said it would make measures such as multipoint tolling or congestion charging "much more urgent".