The Environmental Impact Assessment document for the new IKEA store in Loulé is to be available to the public in a consultation process running between 29 April and 27 May despite the fact that work already should have started.
This major shopping centre near the border with the Faro council area was categorised by the Government as a Project of National Interest and was approved by the former Loulé council last year, yet the public has not had a say in a development that some see as ruinous to the Algarve countryside, and others welcome as Portugal develops alongside other EU partners which see retail as king.
The Swedish multinational wants to invest €200 million and expects to create about 3,000 jobs in the three large stores that make up the main retail area, the 95 smaller food, clothing and perfume shops, and the shopping mall with 125 clothes shops.
There has been a legal move by business groups and associations in the Algarve to stop the development as it would damage their trade. The Swedish group then applied to the court for compensation from these associations and individuals who had ‘threatened its rights and interests.’
According to the Environmental Impact Assessment, the opening of the Swedish store and retail park will have a relatively low environmental impact on the countryside where IKEA is planning to build, despite the project involving the re-routing of many watercourses an the construction of five new roundabouts at the access point for traffic from the Via do Infante and the EN 125 roads.
Perhaps more importantly the area should be considered alongside the six other large supermarket and commercial retail projects that have been lodged for approval with Loulé council. Certainly the management of the Forum Algarve shopping centre near to Faro’s western entrance will welcome IKEA’s current problems.