John Lewis Sheffield: Supporters of £100m 'home of football' attraction urge council to decide building's fate

Supporters of a £100m ‘home of football’ attraction in Sheffield’s former John Lewis have urged the council to make a decision on the building’s future.

Monday, 31st January 2022, 8:35 am

A global sports brand wants to open ‘Sheffield Rules’, a football-based cultural and wellbeing centre in the former Barker’s Pool store - or in a new building on the site.

But the authority must make a decision so detailed proposals can be drawn up, according to Adam Murray, managing director of planning consultants Urbana, which is leading a consortium of firms working with the brand.

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS FOR THE BUILDING?

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A global sports brand wants to open ‘Sheffield Rules’, a football-based cultural and wellbeing centre in the former Barker’s Pool store - or in a new building on the site.

Sheffield City Council, which owns the building, has laid out three options: keep it, build a new one or create a park.

A public consultation ends on February 13. The authority has said a decision ‘is likely by the summer’.

Mr Murray said they would be unable to draw up detailed proposals until they knew whether it would stay.

He added: “Our bid can’t go in until we know what they want - one of the options is a park. There are a lot of numbers to put in to see if it stacks up. How can we get our proposals correct if we don’t know what will happen to the building?”

Adam Murray, managing director of planning consultants Urbana, which is leading a consortium of firms working with the brand.

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Scores of ideas have been suggested for the former department store. It is unknown how many have commercial backing.

Mr Murray urged people to support Sheffield Rules, which would also have a museum, shops and flats.

He said: “We think it speaks to the heart of Sheffield’s history and future, with wellbeing and inclusivity at its heart.”

John Lewis closed last June with the loss of 299 jobs.

WHY DID THE GLOBAL BRAND CHOOSE SHEFFIELD?

It was the brand’s concept, and there could be potentially dozens of centres worldwide, but the consortium had convinced it to choose Sheffield for the first, he added.

“They could go anywhere on earth, there might be 50. However, Sheffield is being taken very seriously because it’s at the heart of the modern game.”

And he had this plea: “If we want them to chose us for the flagship of new concept, then give this bid credibility and go for it.”

WHY DOES SHEFFIELD CLAIM TO BE THE HOME OF FOOTBALL?

Sheffield’s claim to be the ‘home of football’ includes the first rules. ‘Sheffield Rules’ were first used in 1858 and were created by Sheffield Football Club, the world’s oldest team.

Other firsts include the oldest football association in England, formed in 1867, and the invention of the corner kick.

John Lewis closed last June with the loss of 299 jobs. The consortium first contacted the council the same month.

The authority has set up a special website for the consultation.

It states: ‘Reports from experts on engineering, development and regeneration have already been commissioned and published to inform decisions on the future for the site.

‘Feedback from the public and proposals for the site from any interested parties will be considered alongside the expert reports before decisions on the future of the site are taken, which is likely to be by the summer’.

And it adds: ‘The council has not waited. Leading experts Arup, Fourth Street and Queensberry were commissioned in summer 2021 to examine the condition of the existing building, the carbon impact and how any options would integrate within Heart of the City and the wider city centre’.

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