IKEA’s decision to cancel its controversial plan to build a store beside the A27 in Lancing has been welcomed by local Labour councillors.

“We welcome the news that IKEA is pulling out of the New Monks Farm development. It’s a traffic-generating business that would have brought the A27 to a standstill and raised air pollution to astronomical levels at certain times of the day” said Lee Cowen leader of the Labour Group on Adur District  Council and a councillor for Mash Barn ward where IKEA was to be built.

Councillor Sharon Sluman (Mash Barn) said: “Adur Council’s decision to grant permission for the development was controversial to say the least. Local people have feared even more congestion on the A27 and across the area.

“We hope we are emerging from COVID and it would be great if this site could be used to support emerging local businesses. It could also be a base for technology and engineering, creating new skilled jobs and apprenticeships supporting the big growth area of technology aiming to help combat climate change.

“Rather than a giant warehouse we could have buildings that will not harm the local environment; sustainable design such as solar power and ground source heat pumps to off-set the concreting over of the flood plain,” she said.

Lee Cowen said: “This is a large site and there are great opportunities now for creative thinking. New ideas and new jobs.

“The Council’s Adur Local Plan suggested at least 10,000sqm of employment-generating floorspace, but IKEA was more than three-times that size. We have an opportunity to scale-back to something more like the size envisaged by the council but offering a better range of jobs and skills.

“The site is IKEA’s to sell but we will be pressing the council to encourage other more-appropriate businesses to come forward.

“The nearby airport is already an engineering hub. Eco businesses that deal with renewables would complement the research already ongoing at the airport. Maybe we should be creating an enterprise zone to generate more skilled jobs?” he said.

IKEA identified Lancing as a site for a new store in 2016 and planning permission was given in 2018. IKEA announced this week they would not be building a store in Lancing.

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