Cole Brothers: Plans to transform former Sheffield department into mixed-use entertainment, leisure and retail venue move forward

Plans to transform the former Cole Brothers building – later home of John Lewis – into a mixed-use entertainment, leisure and retail venue are moving forward.

A report is due to be heard by members at Sheffield City Council next week to seek approval to enter into an agreement with Urban Splash over the lease of the building.

The council’s Strategy and Resources Committee is due to meet on Thursday, December 21 and will hear the latest update on the project to transform the grade two-listed building in Barker’s Pool as part of the ongoing regeneration of the city centre.

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Detailed negotiations on the agreement have been taking place over the last six months between Sheffield City Council and Urban Splash, which was announced as the preferred bidder to take on the building in June.

Those negotiations have now concluded and the lease agreement is expected to be signed in January 2024.

The regeneration company will then launch a public consultation on its plans for the building to gather thoughts and ideas.

The proposed agreement with Urban Splash – famous for revamping Park Hill flats – will result in a mixed-use scheme comprising flexible workspace and cafes, retail, leisure, cultural uses and event space.

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In a statement, the council said: “Bringing this listed building back into active use will be hugely beneficial both for the wider city centre and the surrounding Heart of the City scheme.

“Retaining much of the structure, whilst improving the thermal performance and energy efficiency of the building, should have a positive impact on climate change.”

Coun Tom Hunt, chair of the strategy and resources committee and leader of the council, added: “The former Cole Brothers building is an important and much loved part of Sheffield city centre. It’s great that we’re moving forward with Urban Splash to breathe new life back into the building.

"The exciting proposal from Urban Splash will add to the fantastic regeneration we’re seeing throughout the city centre in the Heart of the City development at West Bar and more.

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“Sheffield is a city on the up. We are creating a city centre that will be a destination for people to come and relax, shop, eat, work, and drink.”

Last month, Urban Splash said the building’s new name would be ‘Cole Store,’ in a reference to its original use as a Cole Brothers department store.

The architect is Simon Allford, the son of David Allford, who designed the original building.

Cole Brothers opened in 1963. It was turned into John Lewis in 2002 and when the retailer announced its plans to shut the store in 2021, the strength of local feeling was so great that almost 25,000 people signed a petition pleading for a rethink.

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Sheffield City Council took ownership of the building in January 2022 after John Lewis confirmed it would close with the loss of 299 jobs. It was grade II listed in July last year.

The building has stood empty for the last two years while a debate has raged about its future.

The authority sold it to Urban Splash on a 250-year lease in June 2023.

No details of the price, cost of modernisation or completion date have been given.