Sheffield Council to start work on future of city's John Lewis - and shoppers' views will help shape plans

Sheffield’s John Lewis building is ‘in the hands of the city’ now, the council leader has said as the future use of the massive building becomes a burning question.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 6:00 am
John Lews in Sheffield City Centre is set to close. Picture: Chris Etchells

The retailer confirmed on Monday that its historic store, formerly Cole Brothers, would not reopen after a three month consultation in the end of an era.

It leaves a large gap in the city centre retail scene, and shoppers have questioned if it can ever be replaced.

But Coun Terry Fox, Sheffield Council’s leader, said Sheffield was a ‘strong and resilient’ city and pointed to regeneration projects taking place, such as the Heart of the City scheme and the Future High Streets plan for Fargate, and a ‘game changing’ food and retail scene on Cambridge Street.

The projects include homes, offices, leisure and a new park called Pound’s Park as well as retail.

He said work would now start on looking at the future of the John Lewis building and local people’s ideas would help to shape it.

The council spent £3.4 million buying John Lewis out of its lease and renting the building back on a much-reduced rate based on turnover as part of its attempts to keep the retailer in Sheffield.

Coun Fox said: “Crucially, the council now owns the Cole Brothers building. This means the building is in the hands of the city. We have been really encouraged to see so many positive suggestions from people about how we can use the site in the future.

“In the short term a lot of work needs to be carried out by building surveyors, who need to look at the interior and exterior of the building. A building of this size and age is complicated.

"Any decisions on what to do with the building and the site will be shaped by a lot of technical detail.

“We know that local people will be keen for plans for the building and site to be confirmed quickly but it is important that we get this right. The council will shortly be providing opportunities for local people to feed in their ideas.

“We plan to come back with more information towards the end of this year and will be extremely keen to engage with the Sheffield community to help us evolve and take forward any plans to create something important for the city.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​