The Government has stepped in to halt the outline planning permission for a new Ikea in east Greenwich after complaints from local protesters.
Greenwich Council gave outline permission for Ikea to build a store on the site of the “eco-friendly” Sainsbury’s store in Peartree Way earlier this year, with planning officers ignoring concerns about increased traffic and air pollution, a decision later backed by London mayor Boris Johnson.
The five Labour members on the planning board – including council leader Chris Roberts, chief whip Ray Walker and regeneration member Denise Hyland – backed the scheme, with two Conservatives voting against.
This was despite every speaker at the planning board meeting – including local outgoing Labour councillors Mary Mills and Alex Grant – voicing objections to the scheme.
Since then, a local campaign has sprung up, gathering cross-party support to call for the decision to be overturned and handed to a public inquiry.
Now Pickles has issued a directive telling Greenwich Council to put final approval on hold while he reviews Greenwich’s process.
Government policy is not to interfere on local matters, so for Pickles to overturn the decision, campaigners have to show that the Ikea decision is of more than local importance.
There’s no timescale for the decision, but those who want to make a representation to Pickles on the issue can email Muredach Diamond at the Department for Communities and Local Government: muredach.diamond[at]communities.gsi.gov.uk, quoting reference NPCU/RTI/E5330/73828.
Separately, English Heritage is considering an application to list the 1999 Sainsbury’s store that’s already on the site, which was lauded at the time for its ecologically-friendly innovations. Work has already started on a replacement store half a mile away in Charlton.
Update 9pm: I’m told by that an Ikea representative was meant to attend a meeting of residents in Greenwich Millennium Village on Wednesday evening, but failed to show.