IKEA plans: Business community responds

Business leaders have stressed the need to '˜make the most of the opportunities' an IKEA store for Lancing would bring.

An aerial shot showing New Monks Farm. Supplied by Geoff Patmore
An aerial shot showing New Monks Farm. Supplied by Geoff Patmore

There is hope the Swedish furniture chain, which this morning announced it would submit a planning application to build a store at New Monks Farm, will attract more people to the area.

Tina Tilley, chief executive of Worthing and Adur Chamber of Commerce, which was given a presentation of the plans earlier this week, said that IKEA was keen to work with the rest of the business community.

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“IKEA has a very strong community sense and they want to engage, rather than alienate,” she said.

She said she had discussed putting up a display in the store with information about things to do nearby, to encourage visitors to stay in the area – an idea IKEA was open to.

This could highlight nearby restaurants and more shopping opportunities in Shoreham and in Lancing, she said.

“We have to work hard to make sure we make the most of the opportunity,” she said.

The news may have worried some local businesses, she said, which was a ‘normal reaction.’

She confirmed she was intending to set up a meeting with a working group of local businesses to listen and work with the company.

“I’m hoping all local businesses will engage as much as possible,” she said. “It’s a couple of years away.

“There is time to do things well.”

She added that there were ‘a lot of jobs to come with the development.’

As well as 430 jobs opening at IKEA, the New Monks Farm development is expected to create 330 construction jobs.

But she stressed concerns over traffic and said it was ‘essential’ that Highways England and IKEA ‘work in harmony together’ over changes to the A27.

Councillor Brian Boggis, cabinet member for regeneration at Adur District Council, said he supported IKEA’s application, which he called a ‘significant investment from a major international retailer with a first class reputation.’

“There are lots of things that we need to resolve,” he said. “But we welcome a large company taking an interest in the district.

“It puts us on the map.”

On the effect on local businesses, he said that if IKEA gave the area a reputation for furniture, surrounding furniture shops would benefit.

He added that IKEA aimed to make the store a regional centre, attracting people from Crawley to Eastbourne and even as far as Portsmouth.

Businesses that spoke to the Herald saw the proposals as a positive thing for the area.

Mark Flexen, manager at Collingwood Batchellor Worthing in Montague Street, which sells middle to upper-range furniture, welcomed the news and the new jobs it would create.

“It will make the whole area better for furniture,” he said. “It’s a good reason for people to come into the town and will keep people in the area.”

He said that while IKEA were ‘extremely good at what they do’, he believed there was a big enough market place for both stores.

Paul Stannard, who owns Colourfull Kitchens – a spray painting and kitchen specialist business which also sells some furniture – in Lancing’s Chartwell Road, was also optimistic about the news.

He believed it could work in their favour as, with the store’s prominent position, he said: “People may find us as a second alternative.”

But he said the biggest issue would be traffic and that the store would have a ‘big impact’ on roads.

Adam Tomlin, company director of Jones and Tomlin which owns Worthing Bedding Centre, said: “It’s good to see IKEA moving into the Worthing area, it will help attract furniture, mattress and bed buyers from all over the South East into our town, which will be positive for Worthing Bedding Centre and the town’s other independent furniture retailers.”

Sharon Clarke, Worthing town centre manager, said she did not think the IKEA would have a major impact on local businesses.

“As a brand, it doesn’t compete with a lot in the town centre,” she said.

She too was hopeful the store would draw in more shoppers to the area.

“IKEA is one of the retailers that people will travel a long way to visit,” she said. “People from Brighton and elsewhere will travel this way more regularly.

“Hopefully we can market Worthing Town centre and keep people here for longer when they come.”

Do you own a business in the area? What effect will the store have on your business? Contact [email protected] with your views

What do you think of the plans? Click here to vote.

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