It seems that the prospect of an Ikea superstore in Greenwich has been rumbling around for much longer than the reality. It’s a little over two years after outline permission was granted and detailed plans were formally submitted last week.

So, what can we expect? It’s still at heart the same big box retail model seen in most of the world. Some of the more innovative stores models that Ikea have adopted are not seen.

It’s clearly eagerly anticipated and I am a fan of the shop. But I do feel they could do much more here.

For a massive site so close to central London the format of a big box shop with no residential component is a missed opportunity. The 1000+ place car park remains. No opportunity has been taken to introduce multi-storey and use land more efficiently.

However there are some differences from the normal giant shed. Looking through the Design and Access Statement reveals they’ll be a box on top for a cafe or events space. Not the most innovative plan given the views afforded though better than nothing. A rooftop garden is also in evidence.

Around the back they’ll also be a garden:

Ikea Greenwich garden

It throws out some errors and arguable points regarding access and transport. What’s the museum bus way it mentions as almost one of the first things in the document? As the main bus route you’d expect they’d get the name right of the Millenium Bus Way.

It acknowledges that Westcombe Park is the nearest station and then comes out with the odd view that walking from the station to the store site has “well-established pedestrian and cycle routes, with dedicated footways and footbridges separated from roads along Peartree Way, Woolwich Road and over the A102.”

That walk is pretty dire, as I covered a couple of years ago. Poor signage, much street clutter meaning legible paths aren’t clear and pedestrians often forced on little detours for no apparent reason.

If they think it’s good enough then apparently no improvements will happen. Will Greenwich Council pull them up and put some income from Ikea into improving this?

It then says some “30% of people in the Royal Greenwich sub-region have access to a bicycle and will be encouraged to visit the site using the Cycle Superhighway and Quietways network”.

There is no Cycle Superhighway. The quietway isn’t much cop.

They use an aerial image to claim this type of store is suitable and that “large-scale mixed-use buildings are appropriate in this context and are visually consistent when observed within the broader view of the Peninsula”.

Firstly, if this was mixed use with residential it’d be less a waste of land. Second, the image used to demonstrate their claim is 10-20 years old as no recent changes and residential schemes are evident.

Nothing is mentioned that I saw about new or better foot crossings to reach the site. Much like what the nearby Brocklebank Retail Park seems to offer, or rather doesn’t, as I covered a few days ago. This is not a pedestrian friendly space as things stand.

There’s a couple more changes to many other Ikea stores – they’ve added a bakery and glass house with seasonal ranges, plants and outdoor equipment

There’s 1013 car parking spaces and 90 cycle spaces – about 65 will be covered. Planning documents mention existing bus provision with no mention of changes – yet we know some routes such as the 472 will likely be cut but plans for any additional routes aren’t known apart from plans to re-direct the 180 from Lewisham to North Greenwich. Buses of course will be serving far more people in coming years with new schools and thousands of flats.

It’s still a big box. One with a bow on top, but still a box. A big opportunity has gone begging to re-work this area and provide a more innovative Ikea to alleviate traffic problems. It’s clear most people are expected to arrive by car and other means of transport are token efforts. How the road network copes remains to be seen.

The planning reference is 17/0672/R

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