Retail giant John Lewis has been urged to deliver “something truly transformational” by donating its closed George Street store to the city of Aberdeen.
Last week the partnership confirmed its store in the Granite City would not reopen, leaving the 200,000 square-foot unit vacant.
It had been suggested the site could be converted into housing after the chain announced plans to build 10,000 homes in the next few years.
Local experts gave the idea their backing – but John Lewis executives then said the Aberdeen site is not under consideration for the scheme.
The closure of the store sparked fears the building could be “left to rot” and become a target for anti-social behaviour.
Site needs ‘full study’
Now Kevin Stewart, the MSP for Aberdeen Central, has urged John Lewis to gift the site to the city to allow the area to be regenerated.
“What we need, and what I’ve consistently called for, is a masterplanning exercise to take place for the site,” Mr Stewart said.
“That needs to include a full study into the housing, business and retail needs of the area. That must also include George Street, which has been omitted from the current city masterplan proposals.
“In terms of the building itself, John Lewis could cement their legacy and their reputation as a socially responsible business by offering the site to the city. Such a goodwill gesture could allow for something truly transformational to be delivered here.
“If this does happen though, it’s essential that a public consultation actually canvasses ideas and opinions. Far too many ‘consultations’ recently have been tick-box exercises, with little scope for meaningful input.”
John Lewis ‘reviewing options’
John Lewis confirmed last week it would not reopen the 200,000 square-foot store following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, putting more than 260 jobs at risk.
That was despite the initial announcement that the closure was being considered being met with intense criticism, while tens of thousands of people signed petitions in protest.
A spokesman for John Lewis said: “The permanent closure of the shop has only just been confirmed following the completion of group consultation with our Aberdeen partners. We are now reviewing options for the future of the site, but no decisions have been made at this stage.”