A department store set to move into Brighton’s city centre has announced it will not go ahead with its plans.
John Lewis was hoping to submit renovation plans for the current site of Boots to the city council later this year.
It unveiled its vision for the store last September, as the retailer embarked on a public consultation with residents.
The retailer said it hoped its proposed Brighton store would offer ‘an edited selection of fashion, beauty, home, electrical and consumer electronics goods and services’.
But today (May 3), John Lewis bosses said its plans had fallen through because of the ‘extent of demolition and rebuilding required’ at 129-133 Queens Road, which is currently home to Boots, Krispy Kreme and First Choice.
A statement from John Lewis said: “We are disappointed to announce that we have decided not to progress our plans to open a John Lewis shop on North Street in Brighton.
“We acquired the site positive that we could build a John Lewis shop, but having explored all options we cannot deliver a shop on this site with the extent of demolition and rebuilding required. We are pleased to have secured a new lease with Boots, who wished to continue to trade in Brighton, so that the property will remain occupied for the long term.
“We would like to thank local people for their active participation in the consultation of our draft plans, as well as Brighton and Hove City Council for its very positive engagement through the planning process, despite our decision not to progress our plans.
“John Lewis owns the freehold of the site and will be putting 129-133 Queens Road on the market for sale shortly, with all its existing tenants in place. These include Boots, Krispy Kreme and First Choice.”
Cllr Warren Morgan, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “I share the disappointment that Brighton and Hove shoppers will no doubt feel at today’s announcement that John Lewis has decided not to progress with its plans for a new store in our city.
“The council fully supported the proposals for a new store which would have been a fantastic addition to our city centre and our work with John Lewis on the initial scheme has been recognised by the company as positive.
“Millions of visitors come to our city every year, all year long, and will continue to come because of the unique and niche shops in North Laine and the larger chain outlets in Churchill Square.
“From my conversations with local residents I’m sure that John Lewis would have succeeded in the city, but I’m also aware that retailers are very uncertain about consumer behaviour. Shopping trends are changing and John Lewis - like other retailers - is feeling the impact of what they themselves have called a ‘volatile market and profound structural changes’ across the industry.
“We will continue to take forward our regeneration programme for the city centre which will build on current investment and support from the retail industry and which proposes the expansion of Churchill Square as part of the Waterfront redevelopment.
“And of course; there’s the new Ikea coming soon in the city region and the work on the new Hanningtons Lane which is returning the area to its former glory, revealing the historic Pugets Cottage and opening up a new Lane which will add to our unique retail offer to visitors and residents alike.
“Whatever the national and international conditions, Brighton and Hove is very much open for business.”
Gavin Stewart, executive director of Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership and CEO of Brilliant Brighton, said: “Brighton has waited a long time for a John Lewis and this news will come as a big blow for many residents of the city. The economic impact of a new John Lewis store would have seen an injection of over 250 jobs for the city, along with the unquantifiable ‘John Lewis effect’ on local house prices.
“However, overall, the city has an economic output of over £5.2bn annually, and with a number of major regeneration projects in the pipeline, (including recent investment of over £29m from the Coast To Capital growth Deal Round 3 alone) we are focussed on creating the jobs and homes the city needs for the future.”