Cole Brothers Sheffield: New future for former John Lewis department store confirmed

There have been “15 or 16” “credible and exciting” bids for the Barker’s Pool building, according to Councilor Mazher Iqbal, meaning it will not stand empty.

He said: “We now know for sure that we will have something on this site.”

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The parking lot, on the right, is boarded up, but the store itself is likely to remain in some form.

The deadline for offers has passed, but a final decision has been pushed back from the summer to November due to the large number of applicants, he added.

It will be done by the commission he co-chairs: transport, regeneration and climate policy.

Councilor Iqbal also said he was in favor of retaining or “partially retaining” the building as the “city needs to achieve its net zero ambitions”, although demolition is not ruled out. Sheffield City Council has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The sale process comes after the store closed last year with the loss of 299 jobs.

He added: “We would like to keep the building as it is. The last thing I want is for it to be torn down, although if something matches the vision then yes. But this is the least favorable option.

But the car park, a structurally separate building, was “definitely falling apart” because it was “unsafe and presented a risk”.

A City Council report says it is “almost certainly redundant and difficult to convert”.

Count Iqbal inside the store with a wall of souvenirs left by staff when the store closed.

But heritage campaigner Robin Hughes said it would narrow the options and nothing should be done until there was a ‘firm and funded plan’ for the site.

The sale process comes after the store closed last year with the loss of 299 jobs. The council bought it in 2020 and leased it to the retailer in a bid to ensure it would stay open.

But six months later it closed permanently, with bosses at John Lewis saying it had been hit by internet shopping and repeated closures.

The 60-year-old building needs a tens of millions of pound upgrade.

A group of architects and historians have asked Historic England to list the building because it is ‘historically and architecturally significant’ and its re-use could be faster, less disruptive and greener than a “unsustainable demolition”. The offer includes parking.

Sheffield City Council has filed a counter-claim for listing ‘immunity’.

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