Peartree Way, 3 November 2013

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], 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.

For more information on the anti-Ikea campaign, visit its website or Facebook page.

13 replies on “Greenwich Ikea: Planning permission halted by Government”

  1. Is there not a pro – ikea website/facebook page you should included? I am pro and would like to show my support for the new store.

  2. I am against the IKEA proposal (for traffic reasons; not because I don’t like IKEA) but I can’t see any purpose in trying to retain the Sainsbury’s building if Sainsbury does not want it. Just because it won a few awards in 1999 that doesn’t mean that something better could not be built now; and in architectural terms it’s hardly Versailles. So I won’t be signing the petition (which seems to be led by the original architect and a number of others who won’t actually need to go there) to keep it. That would not stop Sainsbury from moving to their new site. It would just restrict the range of businesses that might move in. Is there a do-not-save-it petition anywhere?

  3. In Greenwich it sometimes seems like there’s a petition for everything…

    I agree, though. The campaign to save the existing Sainsbury’s building seems as much about salving the architect’s ego as anything else, given the problems the building’s had. A campaign to save the eco park, while allowing that site to be used for food retail (prevented currently by Sainsbury’s covenants – if I understand the situation correctly) would be of more value, I reckon.

  4. Sums it up well, listing buildings within 15 years of their construction seems far to early. As for the Government calling it in, it is a positive move but I would be surprised if it does anything other than delay the proposal a bit, unless Pickles has mates at either Odeon or B&Q who along with local residents will be the big losers.

  5. Why not move B&Q to the Sainsbury’s building they could you use some of the surrounding land for plants etc They do not need massive storage height. The building and land would be more than adequate.The nature site could stay intact too. IKEA could then use the entire block from the old Comet up to the cinema.

    The east Greenwich location has always had a pollution problem as long as i can remember from the days of the old gas works and the stinky factories that chucked up an evil stench for miles. more often than not the tunnel is grid locked. yet people have chosen to live there. With worse pollution than we have today. A new IKEA is not going to cause a flat pack furniture buying frenzy. you only have to look at Thurrock and Croydon they are not over run with customers

  6. Mr GD I supposed you’ve never been to IKEA on a Saturday. The parking lot for the Thurrock location alone is the size of the entire parking lot for the whole Greenwich shopping complex from Sainsbury’s to the Odeon. And on weekends it is packed to the brim.

    If not for the restriction on other supermarkets it would be a great location for Whole Foods, which doesn’t have any shops in SE London.

  7. Mr GD:

    Regarding your comment ‘people have chosen to live there’ – are you seriously suggesting that the council has the right to approve anything, no matter how damaging it is to the local area, because people can ‘choose’ to move if they don’t like it? And that because the area (and, in fact, all of London) has suffered from pollution in the past, then it’s not something we should be trying to improve now? Wow – glad you’re not in parliament.

    And on your last comment, I challenge you to visit Croydon Ikea on a Saturday afternoon and imagine the impact of dumping all those extra cars on an already ‘gridlocked’ (your words) East Greenwich.

  8. The best news so far on a short sighted, illogical and plain daft decision to allow this development.
    It is a wholly unsuitable location for a store of this size and popularity given the current congestion levels. Let it go somewhere more suitable in the borough if Greenwich is where they want to be.

    For information, IKEA Croydon has ~39,000 weekly customers with 1,900 spaces ( whilst Thurrock has ~ 29,300 weekly visits with 1,200 spaces (

    Now, consider the current traffic levels and then add ~ 30,000 more customer visits per week with a parking limit of 1000 cars shared with B&Q, a cinema and a restaurant. Returning to congestion, let us not forget the new Sainburys which will be three times the size of the old *and* the new M&S planned for the area.

    Thankfully, somebody is looking again at this decision, hopefully ‘Pickles’ will bring a bit of common sense to the party – traffic is bad enough without these developments, now either sort out the roads first or forget the whole thing.

  9. This is good news, though may just be a formality. I would strongly advise people to write into Eric Pickles the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who has “called this in”. Sometime political decisions are taken, so the more people that write to him the better. It doesn’t have to be a long letter, can just be an email, but do it now while he is considering it. HIs address is: Eric Pickles, SoS for Communities and Local Government, DCLG, Eland House, Bressenden Place, SW1E 5DU, or email him on

  10. Mr GD has some valid points. A rejigging of the shops might be a good move, especially if B&Q took on the Eco park as part of its One Planet scheme. The area from there down to Nando’s would then present a more flexible and therefore more attractive proposition, whether for one large occupier or more. The existing buildings could be adapted for many uses and contain upper floors or mezzanines. Presumably, there are no covenants on those buildings regarding food retail (not another Tesco, though, please). And, for those of you who are relatively new to the area, the Peninsula was not typical of the pollution of London – in addition to the norm, it was poisonous and stank – and the problem with traffic really did pre-date the development of that part of East Greenwich/Charlton.

    However, as far the inevitable increase in traffic and parking requirements are concerned, you can’ t put a quart into a pint pot and there would be at least a negation of any improvements that came about as a result of the changes in use in that part of East Greenwich/Charlton. Woolwich was the first council in the country to introduce a Smokeless Zone to curb the terrible smogs of the fifties. There are still lessons that can be learnt from the past by its successor, the Royal a Borough of Greenwich.

    My concern is that Labour council candidates campaigned on national policies rather than issues directly relating to RBG or individual wards. I am aware that Mr Brain has made known on here his “reservations” about IKEA and I understand that he and Mr Lloyd have voiced their concerns about the Silvertown link. I am sure I will be corrected if I am wrong or if I have erroneously omitted Ms Scott-McDonald’s views on the schemes. Let’s hope that the new Council will remedy it’s decision-making systems and tighten up scrutiny.

    Has anyone considered this all might be a red herring, though? There were rumours a few years ago that IKEA was going to open a store in the White Heart Triangle. This is where the south side of a bridge at Gallions would touch down.

  11. Part of para. 2 should read, “… And there would be at least a negation of any improvements in pollution that came about as a result of the changes in use in that part of East Greenwich/Charlton.”

  12. Might be worth clarifying whether Eric Pickles is simply considering whether to call in the planning application so that he rather than the Council can make the final decision. By the way, he can’t review a council’s decision – only a court can do this.

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