FEARS are growing that a new IKEA store -- which will employ 500 people -- will not be able to open on time next month.
The Swedish furniture shop cannot open for business until routes around its north Dublin site are upgraded, but the National Roads Authority (NRA) admitted yesterday it would be a "surprise" if the work was completed by the July 27 opening date.
The off-ramps from the M50 near the Ballymun interchange of the M50 are still under construction, with substantial road works yet to be completed around the massive store -- despite the looming six-week deadline.
However, Fingal County Council, which is responsible for ensuring the network is complete, said yesterday it was confident the works would be completed to allow the store open next month.
Only "minor matters" remained to be addressed, it insisted.
IKEA was not available for comment yesterday, but has previously criticised the delay in completing the roads.
It claims it has lost tens of millions of euro in lost sales, adding that the store was finished last November.
Despite intensive lobbying by IKEA to speed up works, the NRA has repeatedly said its timetable for the works would not be changed to facilitate the company.
An Bord Pleanala granted planning permission for the 30,500 square metre store in June 2007, but on condition it could only open when upgrading works on the motorway and construction of local roads were complete.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the NRA said it had concerns about the road network.
"Hopefully, this will come to fruition, but the NRA is still concerned about the traffic impacts," he said.
"It would be a pleasant surprise if it was ready by July. The contractor is not obliged to have works completed on that section until December this year."
Informed sources have said the network is unlikely to be finished until September or October, which will also result in delays in 500 people taking up employment. It would take a "concerted effort" to get works complete by July, the source added.
However, a Fingal County Council statement said: "We are satisfied that substantial compliance with planning conditions is complete or nearing completion and that road/traffic improvement works in the vicinity of the IKEA site in Ballymun, required by condition under the planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanala, will be completed at the time of IKEA opening.
"Minor outstanding matters are the subject of current and ongoing discussions with the relevant parties and are progressing satisfactorily.
"We envisage all required works will be completed by the IKEA opening date."
IKEA opened its first Irish store in Belfast in December 2007 and has said it would consider opening a third branch in Ireland, depending on the success of the Dublin and Belfast outlets.
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