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Ikea takes German planning rules to EU

The Local · 17 Oct 2010, 12:03

Published: 17 Oct 2010 12:03 GMT+02:00

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Ikea had plans to expand its German headquarters in Hofheim-Wallau in the Rhineland, while completely new stores were planned for Rastatt and Kirchheim and the store in Bielefeld-Brackwede was to be extended.

But regional planning regulations have prevented all these ideas being made reality, and now Ikea is challenging the rules in Brussels, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Sunday.

Ikea spokeswoman Sabine Nold confirmed the firm had asked the European Commission to check whether the ‘Protection of the Inner Towns’ rules clash with EU law guaranteeing freedom of business.

Nold said that ultimate planning authority lies with town councils, but that regional planning concepts tend to overrule them.

The FAZ reported rumours that the Commission is currently checking whether to start a case against the federal German government for breaking EU rules.

The German position paper should be finalised in the next few weeks, and then sent to Brussels, the paper reported – saying that planners will argue that they have laid out provisions to ensure consumers can get to stores, while securing town centres.

The FAZ has seen a draft of the German statement, which also says that because the large markets are engines for regional economic growth, planners have to have a hand in where they are located. Towns without a functioning economy are as unthinkable as trading areas without a town which has regulated development.

It says that the rules are designed with town and space planning considerations in mind, not in order to affect competition.

Story continues below…

Yet a planner from the Rhine-Main area recently said, “We just want to make sure that furniture stores sell furniture again – and not everything from candles to Christmas biscuits,” the FAZ reported.

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:30 October 17, 2010 by michael4096
¦quot;We just want to make sure that furniture stores sell furniture again ­ and not everything from candles to Christmas biscuits,¦quot;

..regardless of what the customer wants!

For whatever reason, people are driving enormous numbers of kilometers to their nearest Ikea stores. On ever crowded roads, with high environmental impacts, balance of payments issues on imported fuels and other problems somebody sensibly suggests putting stores nearer to the customers - a no brainer. Until the planners look at it..

If there are good reasons for banning new Ikea stores then lets hear them - that the are selling the wrong thing is surely not a planning call
14:00 October 17, 2010 by wenddiver
IKEA Stores pose a threat to Germany, Terrorists don't,, but IKEA is downright scary!!
14:52 October 17, 2010 by 9900lawre
OMFG, It's a big blue swedish box! Is it because it's not a German company thats the problem?

Novum opened a big pink superstore in Paderborn so whats wrong with Ikeas big blue superstore?

Answers on the back of cigarette packet please.
15:10 October 17, 2010 by cobalisk
No, the issue is businesses whose goal is maximizing profit vs city planners whose goals are local industry sustainability.

Rather than flap about fictitious threats about IKEA vs terrorism or make absurd claims about nationalism, perhaps it is important to actually understand the issues. There is a large body of evidence which demonstrates that locating big box stores on the outskirts of town leads to the stretching of housing toward the edge and results in the hollowing out of businesses and residences in the centers of those towns.

Having strong planning and zoning rules are what has prevented many German towns from sprawling out like their N. American counterparts. IKEA is acting in its own interests, the town councils are acting in theirs. Rather than respect the locals IKEA is appealing to Brussels to force their way. I expect IKEA will lose, as they should.
17:42 October 17, 2010 by rutledm
Well said cobalisk. This mindless, ugly North American big box, shopping mall sprawl shouldn't/can't be allowed to happen in Germany.
17:51 October 17, 2010 by dbert4
IKEA=Walmart with different colored stores. They should do their expansion in America where they will be welcomed! Oh, but wait, Americans don't have any money.....never mind.
19:24 October 17, 2010 by domiDDD
Yea, Germany don`t need 10,000 more jobs anyway
20:14 October 17, 2010 by 9900lawre
Okay i agree with the zone thing and only building in certain areas, but what if Ikea were to takeover smaller industrial units in places where Media mMrkt and REAL are? I think that would be the best solution for all.

2ndly just because Brussels says doesn't mean Germany must. Whats going to happen? International sanctions? Think not.

Lastly the acceptance of Novum Porn superstores and not Ikea Furniture superstores in a prime business park doesn't seem to be in the councils interest. Or is it? ;-)
20:20 October 17, 2010 by Landmine
Germans think too much! Chill out!!!!!!!!
20:34 October 17, 2010 by michael4096
@cobalisk - your arguments have merit for clothes and food stores but not for flatpack furniture. One of the stores mentioned would sit between two existing Ikea stores 80km apart in a place where a number of furniture outlets already exist and people still prefer to drive the 100+ km round trip to one of the overcrowded Ikeas. The local authority isn't protecting the locale or the environment, just the incumbent businesses
22:33 October 17, 2010 by William Thirteen
'Yet a planner from the Rhine-Main area recently said, 'We just want to make sure that furniture stores sell furniture again ­ and not everything from candles to Christmas biscuits,'

shades of the old Warenhaus debate - product mixing leads to race mixing!

23:45 October 17, 2010 by catjones
Not German nationalism per se. It's German industrial protectionism.
09:25 October 18, 2010 by Actuality
Corporations are now quite blatant in their belief that they transcend international and local laws.
10:11 October 18, 2010 by freechoice
People living in Germany loves shopping!! The last time there was a mega mall opening on Sunday, the traffic was backed up all the way to the major autobahn! There is not enough parking that all traffic were directed to the outskirts of the mall, with buses ferrying the shoppers to the mall!!

You don't get this kind of crowds during the weekdays!!
12:19 October 18, 2010 by moistvelvet
"Federal German government breaking EU rules" Well what a surprise, good on Ikea for taking action, for far too long Germany decides which EU rules to follow and which to ignore.

I agree that some sort of control has to be kept to stop the Wall-mart type of domination which bleeds business dry from the centre of towns/cities. But Ikea isn't one of these businesses, it sells specific type of furniture which is easily recogniseable as Ikea, some people actually avoid that style, others love the practicality of it and are prepared to drive 100km to get it. Ikea is nothing like MediaMarkt, which certainly bleeds businesses dry from city centres, but I guess because it is a German firm then that is acceptable.
17:40 October 18, 2010 by blauaugen63
It is worse than sad when local governments cannot control what affect their neighborhoods.

This is exactly what is wrong with the EU and any other form of government where local or state municipalities lose sovereignty in favor of uniformity.

Let the Germans decide what they want in the towns. Is that so wrong?
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