A report published ahead of Wednesday's meeting of the city council planning committee recommends planning permission is granted for the revised THAT Group scheme for a hotel, cinema, shops and offices.
'The proposal would represent a positive and ambitious form of development that would rejuvenate a socially and historically important listed building and local landmark with opportunities to establish and support local businesses that would contribute to the vitality and viability of the town centre,' it says.
The application was submitted in March in response to the decision by English Heritage to give the building Grade II-listed status last year and changing ‘economic requirements’.
The developer said it had ‘importantly’ not led to any changes to the scale of the redevelopment but had required changes to the internal layout of the proposed replacement.
These include an increased number of hotel rooms from 43 to 67, a reduction in the number of cinema screens from three to two, the provision of a ground floor food court,
the removal of a rooftop maintenance facility, and the relocation of the bar and gym from the third floor to ground level.
‘The original planning application was considered to provide a positive mix of uses that would contribute significantly to the vitality and vibrancy [of the area], mitigating the loss of the former department store,’ a statement submitted on behalf of the developer said.
‘The revised application maintains this mix of uses but has adapted to create a development that is more flexible and responds to the changings needs of businesses in the post-pandemic environment.’
Councillor Graham Heaney, who represents the St Jude ward, said this was an improvement and 'sensitively' took into account the listed status.
'The changes have made the proposal better than it was,' he said. 'They have clearly taken into account the historical importance of the building and the internal changes also make sense.
'John Lewis closed three years ago now and it's a shame that we've had it empty for all that time but hopefully we are now closer to bringing it back into use which will bring people into the area and be a big boost.'