On Tuesday 17th January, a representative from EGRA attended a community engagement meeting with representatives from IKEA, alongside representatives from other local amenity societies: The Westcombe Society, Charlton Central Residents Association, The South East London Chamber of Commerce and Peninsula ward councillors Denise Scott-Macdonald and Stephen Brain. Another meeting was held on 18th January, with attendees representing the Greenwich Society and Blackheath, amongst others. Time was tight, as a lot was due to be covered, but an overview of the presentation and discussion is below:
Dates: They are submitting detailed designs for the reserved matters in Feb this year, with a view to opening in summer 2018 (i.e. in 18 months’ time). Locals will apparently be leafleted again in the coming weeks.
Traffic: IKEA’s representatives would not be drawn on traffic and were clear in stating that the travel plan had already been approved and that only appearance, scale and landscaping were up for discussion, despite traffic being raised as perhaps the number one concern amongst local members. However, they maintained that they were committed to reaching their ‘35% by public transport’ target, but it was felt that there was little detail on the tangible measures that would be put in place to achieve this, rather than relying on the site’s inherent ‘accessibility’. IKEA are to set up an (internal) working group to flesh out these ideas, but suggested that the range of goods on offer may dictate transport methods (suggesting that some items would, say, be available in Croydon, but not in Greenwich).
The issue of four hour queues to leave their Reading store was raised, but dismissed as being the result of a small error in the traffic light management system (now, apparently, fixed). They still stand by their claim that traffic will be reduced overall, despite it being pointed out that there’s already a regular 4pm gridlock on Sundays as a result of Sainsbury’s closing time (there was a suggestion that they look at varying their 10am-4pm opening hours to stagger this). They also said they were improving pedestrian access, particularly from Westcombe Park but, not much detail as time was tight.
Building Design: It’s obviously massive (and blue!) but the design has double-height glazing and timber across the front and they are conscious of not ‘turning their back on the peninsula’ and so they’ve tried to create the impression that the building faces both sides.
Green Space: The current pocket eco park is still going, but the plan is to replace this with another space on the same site of around half the size, and have grass and trees wrap around the side of the building along Peartree Way. The new park will be more open and overlooked by windows from the inside so that it’s not as isolated as the current one and they want some input from locals on what will be in this space. Also, the proposal features a green roof and rooftop garden with a glazed pavilion that will be made available to the public (though not sure about the view of and noise from tunnel approach…).
Sustainability: They will be recycling most of the materials from the old Sainsbury’s store, as well as fitting a photo-voltaic roof, harvesting and recycling water, providing electric car charging points, and the building will have an excellent BREEAM rating. They aim to recruit locally, provide training and community spaces, including bookable meeting spaces. There will be more emphasis in store on the sale and reuse of ‘seconds’ and recycling furniture (again, not much detail, as time was tight). They want it to be ‘more than a store’.
Section 106: They were pleased to tell us that they would not be reducing any of the s106 payments, even though they believe they could, given how much ‘greening’ they were doing. Amounts and allocations haven’t changed since original planning approval, though no more indication on what this is actually being spent on.
EGRA will continue to engage with the other local amenity societies on this, and will be looking at the detailed plans before these go to the planning board.