“Can it be done?” More ideas for the John Lewis building

Sheffielders have shared their own ideas about what should happen to the city’s John Lewis building after exciting suggestions sparked reaction last week.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 7:00 am

In last week’s Telegraph Tom Hunt, deputy director of Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute, and architect Adam Park showcased a model for the building in Barkers Pool that included culture, parking, retail, hospitality and living accommodation to ‘generate discussion’ should John Lewis decide to vacate for good from June.

Tom said: “Lots of people have responded positively. From my perspective is that we wanted to put some ideas out there to generate discussion, and hopefully start a debate, and that seems to be beginning.

"All of us have a chance to influence what happens next and to put forward the ideas in order to encourage some genuine discussion.”

From culture and cafes, to retail and bars, you have had your say on what should happen with the John Lewis building.

Readers have also written in to the Telegraph expressing the need for culture to be incorporated in the building, as well as retail and hospitality.

Mary Wragg from S11 said: “Without having the least idea of the city council's proposals, nor of the condition of the building, I suggest it offers the chance of conversion to a medium size concert hall as a permanent home for "Music in the Round" on the first floor, with a variety of retail outlets on the ground floor.

"Existing car parking could be retained to service both activities, in addition to the much larger City Hall.

“All that is needed to achieve this balance of music and theatre is imagination, willpower and, of course, money! Only then can Sheffield begin to call itself a ‘global’ city. Can it be done?”

The John Lewis building’s street access at multiple points is a draw for potential culture organisations, as well as its high ceilings and potential for multi-use.

Tom Hunt believes these compositions of the building have ‘real potential’ for organisations such as the Central Library and Graves Gallery, whose current residence needs significant renovations.

“I think there’s a real potential for some gallery space, and potentially the public library to move in there,” Mr Hunt said.

Sheffield artist and reader Alan Roddis agreed with Mr Hunt’s proposition to incorporate culture.

Alan said: “As the Weston Park Museum is so small for a major city like Sheffield, may I suggest moving it into the vacant John Lewis building, creating room for expansion and also exhibition space.

“The Graves Art Gallery could also be incorporated and maybe the Central Library.

"Turning the building into an exciting culture centre would I'm sure be an extra reason for the public to visit the city.”

John Barker said “every attempt must be tried to keep John Lewis”.

He added: “If John Lewis cannot be saved, I suggest that Kommune food hall be relocated here.

"The food stalls could be on the lower ground and ground floor levels. “The upper floors could be independent shops and stalls. People attending the City Hall for events could pop in for a meal. It would be perfect on Hallam graduation days.”