Sheffield’s top store John Lewis would be knocked down and moved to a new location under plans for the city’s new retail quarter, it has been confirmed.
Department store bosses and town hall chiefs are locked in talks over the latest proposals for the £480 million transformation of the city centre.
It is still hoped the shop would be the ‘anchor’ or main tenant of the scheme – as it was for the former failed Sevenstone plans with developer Hammerson - although John Lewis has not yet agreed to the draft plan.
Proposals show a pedestrianised extension of Fargate heading through the current store in Barker’s Pool and a ‘new generation’ department store fronting on to a revived Charter Square.
A 3D visualisation developed by Arup from an in-house virtual 3D model of Sheffield city centre has been on display to show shoppers how the quarter could look/
Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business at Sheffield Council, said ‘talks were ongoing’.
He said: “The current proposal is that the anchor store would move location.
“It would be on a slightly different location to what was proposed under the Hammerson scheme but on the same site.
“We are discussing the scheme with John Lewis – we are trying to do it in the right way.
“We’ve got a scheme that we can put forward, it is a good scheme.
“Whether it is going to be the final scheme or not I don’t know, because we are doing public consultation to see what people want.
“We will be seeking a development partner and they may have some different views to how they want to do it.
“There is no doubt that John Lewis are a key retailer in the city centre and like all the retailers we are discussing the scheme with them and whether they want to be part of it or not.”
James Prince, store manager of John Lewis in Sheffield, said the retailer was ‘working hard’ with the council on a ‘viable solution for John Lewis within that scheme’.
He said: “They have produced a scheme that clearly shows a road running through our existing shop and we are in constant dialogue with them to understand the proposed scheme and whether we would be in that or not.”
He said rumours John Lewis could move to Meadowhall were ‘unsubstantiated’.
A spokeswoman for John Lewis added: “We’ve not agreed to the details of the plans and discussions with the council are ongoing.
“We do welcome the council’s ambition to encourage new investment in the city centre but there are significant implicatuons for John Lewis in the details of the draft plan.”
She said the retailer was focusing on the city centre and there was no timetable for how long talks would take before a decision was made.
Under the old Sevenstone scheme, John Lewis would have got a new, larger store, on the Wellington Street fire station site but after major delays the council parted ways with developer Hammerson.
The existing John Lewis underwent a £1.3m refurbishment last year.
A public display on Fargate, which ended yesterday, gave details of several 1960s and 1970s buildings which would go under the plans, including John Lewis, Barker’s Pool House and the Grosvenor Hotel.
Other historic facades or features would be retained.
The retail quarter would aim to push the city up retail rankings, stop affluent shoppers going elsewhere and draw in people from outside the region.
Arup based in Barker’s Pool have been appointed to provide full engineering design services for the quarter.
Simon Nevill, project director, said: “The development of the current proposals for the retail quarter provides a step change for the overall retail and residential/commercial offer in central Sheffield.
“This is a very important project for the city and the Arup team based in Sheffield is delighted to be working with the council on the engineering designs for the scheme.
“The use of the city model has been an important way to communicate the integration of the project into the fabric of the city centre.”
It is set to be completed in full by 2021, with the first stores opening in 2019.
People can take part in public consultation at www.sheffieldretailquarter.com until June 19.