Swedish furniture retailer IKEA has been granted planning permission for a store in East Belfast, which will create 500 jobs.

A proposed IKEA store in Dublin is also expected to employ 500,  but construction is not expected until after the Belfast store is finished in November 2007.

There has been a delay in finalising the planning process in the North as IKEA decided to increase floorspace by 3,200 sq metres to 29,000 sq metres.

In October, IKEA received planning permission from Fingal County Council for its first store in the Republic, in Ballymun, Dublin.

The Council attached conditions to its approval, most connected with traffic concerns. It has insisted that roadworks will have to be finished before IKEA can open - and the National Roads Authority says this work won't be completed till 2008.

IKEA's Ireland manager, Theresa Daly, said they were very happy to have ministerial approval for the Belfast store which will be the first such store on the island of Ireland.