The long-awaited proposal to replace derelict buildings at Pincents Lane Retail
Park with the Swedish retailer, which is famous for its flat-pack furniture, was given the green light by planning bosses at a tense four-and-a-half hour meeting tonight. But the planning officer is under strict instructions to tear up the agreement if IKEA does not complete a legal agreement by August.
The decision was met with sighs of disappointment from a 60-strong audience, but cheers from the developers.
The dramatic meeting at Theale Green Community School included impassioned speeches from representatives from parish councils, Sainsbury's, motorists and campaign groups - prompting impromptu rounds of applause from members of the public. But planning bosses argued the promise of 400 new jobs and £5m road improvements was too good to turn down.
The approval by West Berkshire Council's Eastern Area Planning Committee comes despite more than 200 letters of objection, and motorists' grave concerns about the impact of traffic on already congested roads.
The development will cover four hectares with the store sitting to the north of Pincents Lane, opposite a 1,287-space car park and areas for buses and coaches. The two areas will be linked by an overhead walkway.
The plans, submitted in February last year, won the support of Reading Borough Council in June but West Berkshire Council had the final say tonight.
For full story and reaction see next week's Reading Midweek.