Talks over Sheffield John Lewis move in retail quarter plan still ongoing months later

The John Lewis store in Sheffield
The John Lewis store in Sheffield
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Talks over knocking down Sheffield’s top store and moving it to a new location in plans for a retail quarter are still ongoing.

In June it was confirmed that Sheffield Council had begun negotiations with bosses at John Lewis over the proposals for the £480m scheme of shops, homes and offices.

The proposals feature a pedestrianised extension of Fargate heading through the current John Lewis store in Barkers Pool and a ‘new generation’ department store on Charter Square.

But while an outline planning application has been submitted, the three shortlisted developers confirmed and the demolition of some buildings is due to start next year, a deal has not yet been reached on the John Lewis aspect of the plan.

It is still hoped the retailer, said to be Sheffield’s most premium store, would be the anchor tenant for the long-awaited scheme.

Coun Leigh Bramall, deputy council leader, said: “We are still in discussions with them, they want to see the final shape of the scheme before they commit and I don’t think that is unreasonable.”

The planning application which has been submitted is an outline one seeking permission for the quarter in principle, with finer detail to come in a full planning application later on.

A development partner is not due to be chosen until next March, with a target date of this September missed, and its leaders may want to shape the scheme further so the John Lewis negotiations are unlikely to conclude before then.

“We’re not due to start construction until 2017, there is plenty of time to resolve and finalise the final outline of the scheme”, said Coun Bramall.

When asked if the possibility of making a payment to John Lewis to compensate for the move could be ruled out, he added: “Nothing is ruled in or out.”

This week council leader Julie Dore has been in China, along with civic and business leaders and Chancellor George Osborne, as several investment opportunities in the north were presented to Chinese investors as part of the Northern Powerhouse concept.

Sheffield’s retail quarter scheme was among the projects highlighted as ripe for investment, but it is not yet known whether any interest was shown.

Mr Osborne also announced during his trade tour of China that Hualing Industry and Trade Group is to invest in Scarborough Group-led schemes, including the second phase of the Sheffield Digital Campus.