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Council looks ahead on plans for John Lewis building

Image of John Lewis and Partners building

Last week, John Lewis and Partners (JLP) formally announced the Sheffield city centre store will remain closed permanently. Today, the council can confirm that plans are moving forward on what’s next for the former JLP building.

Currently, JLP are responsible for the building and its liabilities, including health and safety, utilities and business rates, but the council and JLP are in talks around handing this back over, which will then allow for plans to get underway. Discussions also include compensation fees to the council due to an early termination of the lease. Any compensation settlement money will be put towards the future of the site. 

Following the closure of the store, the council put out a tender to bring in extra capacity to give the site the attention it deserves and make sure all opportunities are explored in defining a vision for its regeneration. Placemaking specialists, Fourth Street were successful in their bid to engage sheffielders and help us to create a space that complements why people want to live, work, study in and visit Sheffield.

Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said:

“Discussions with John Lewis Partnerships are ongoing but let me make it clear - we will be making sure a great deal is done so we can move forward with this building as soon as possible. Negotiations are underway in securing compensation from JLP which includes many factors such as the state of the building that is being handed back to us, and we expect compensation to be agreed over the summer period.

“In moving forward, I’m really pleased that we are now working with Fourth Street to make sure the future of the site at the heart of our city is bright, respecting the significant history it holds, with user experience and public consultation at the heart of this process.

“Sheffield is a strong and resilient city and regeneration work is underway across the city centre to rejuvenate the area and make sure that it meets the needs of the people who live, work and visit here. Through Heart of the City and Future High Streets developments, work is taking place all around the Barker’s Pool site – including introducing a game changing independent food and retail scene along Cambridge Street – which has been specifically designed to be flexible to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the high street.  

“We are delivering new homes, flexible office space, places to eat and drink and new leisure destinations, supported by new retailers, to bring people into the area in an age of online shopping. High quality green public spaces, such as Pound’s Park, will make the city centre an attractive place to visit with opportunities beyond shopping. Retail remains an important part of what the city centre has to offer, but it will be complemented by new bars, restaurants and event spaces that will provide a collective experience for everyone to enjoy.  

“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 and to hear just how much love people have for the site and its future."

In the short term a lot of work must now be carried out by building surveyors, to look at the interior and exterior of the building. The council is currently undertaking its own building survey work and early indications suggest that it is unlikely the building can be put in use immediately due to the condition of the building systems and the degree of asbestos present.

Asbestos surveys, and potential removal must be completed before any works are carried out.

Cllr Fox added: “This is now our responsibility which unfortunately presents an early hurdle, however, we’re committed to getting the site fit for purpose for residents to enjoy as quickly as possible.  

“What I am clear on is that we absolutely do not want the building to be sat vacant for a long period of time, I’m focussed on attracting people back into the city centre and therefore working with citizens is vital.

“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 and get the right outcome for the people of Sheffield. We’ll 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 Sheffield communities to help us evolve and take forward any plans to create something beneficial for the city.”

The Council will look to devise a plan of re-use for the JLP building by the end of 2021. These plans will include reviewing all ideas and requests with parties who have shown an interest in the building, alongside respective Co-operative Executive Members, Ward Members, various institutions and crucially, city residents.

By October this year, the plan is to have a public engagement and consultation process that will then lead to deliverable options being put forward at the end of 2021.