Sheffield Council insists John Lewis is not holding up progress on the city’s new retail quarter - despite there still being no deal for the sale of the firm’s land.
The £480 million development has always hinged on a new department store, and the council wants John Lewis to be the ‘anchor tenant’.
A report due to go before councillors on Wednesday says the authority now owns all the land in the retail quarter area, with the exception of John Lewis’s site.
Construction work on the first phase of the development has begun, but there is no sign of a new plan for phase two, which would include a new department store.
But the council this week said discussions with John Lewis were not holding things up, while the retailer said it was ‘committed’ to working with the authority.
A council spokesman said: “We know that people in Sheffield have waited a long time for a new retail quarter and are excited by the city’s ongoing regeneration.
“We are in ongoing talks with all target retailers and occupiers for the scheme, including John Lewis. Following these discussions, we will carry out public consultation around plans for phase two.
“We will then develop plans and submit the planning application.
“Issues around land ownership will be managed at the appropriate time and do not affect any of our timescales.
“We look forward to sharing proposals, which will help transform our city centre, and gathering the views of Sheffield’s residents later this year.”
The council appointed real estate specialist Queensberry as strategic development partner to help in discussions with retailers, including John Lewis.
In January the firm’s chief executive Paul Sargent said he was hopeful of securing John Lewis for the retail quarter.
Talking exclusively to The Star last week, head of John Lewis’s Sheffield branch Tom Holmes said the firm was ‘actively’ working with the council and Queensberry.
Today’s top stories: