'Let's get going on a vision for future of Sheffield's John Lewis store'

How time flies. It feels like two minutes since John Lewis announced they were set to close their Sheffield store.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 6:00 am
The John Lewis Store, Sheffield...24th March 2021..Picture by Simon Hulme

In reality it has been more than six months since that sent shockwaves through the city all the way back in March.

Shoppers lamented the loss of the former Cole Brothers store, some were so angry they boycotted the sister brand Waitrose, and not a week has gone by when the closure has not been referenced in stories about Sheffield city centre: its future, its current condition, and it has even been blamed for leaving a nearby historic building ‘in limbo’ for 14 years.

Elsewhere in the world, former department stores are being given new purposes.

As Tom Hunt and Adam Park – experts in architecture and research in the city – write in their piece, if Paris can have low-cost, affordable homes at the heart of one of the world’s most expensive cities, why not Sheffield?

A bit closer to home, and in Coventry there are plans to convert a former city centre Ikea store into a large new art gallery. (Let’s not lose our Ikea store by the way – Lord knows it took long enough to get in the first place.)

A compensation deal over the John Lewis lease was expected by the council ‘this summer.’ We are now deep into autumn.

The council says it will share an update once negotiations conclude.

Yes, these things take time, but can’t we know why it is taking longer when £3.4 million of presumably taxpayers’ money was used to buy John Lewis out of the lease and rent the building back?

The council also said that by October, the plan was to have a public engagement and consultation process that will then lead to options being put forward at the end of 2021. Well, it’s now almost half-way through October.

There are only ten weeks until Christmas. While we all know we will have less choice when it comes to buying gifts in the city centre, let’s at least get going on some ideas for such a key part of it.