John Lewis is facing renewed backlash from Ealing locals for its attempts to build hundreds of rental homes in two block towers within the London borough as part of its push to diversify from retail.
The struggling department and grocery brand has submitted its finalised development plans to Ealing Council, with an ongoing consultation process taking place and set to conclude at the end of the month.
A local ‘Stop the Towers’ group said that the retailer only handed out leaflets to locals on 19 August, leaving less than two weeks for residents to submit objections in the consultation process which ends on 31 August, The Times reported.
A spokesperson for the group told the outlet that the company was behaving like the most “rapacious of developers”.
The group was “ignoring the needs of the local community and disregarding democratically implemented local plans in a desperate attempt to plug the losses of its core retail business,” they added.
The grand plans to build 430 new homes above a Waitrose supermarket have already faced public pushback from Peter Mason, leader of Ealing council.
Earlier this year, the politician accused the employee-owned business of “bullying” and questioned its ability to ensure 35 per cent of the homes built were affordable.
The John Lewis Partnership (JLP), which consists of the John Lewis department store and supermarket Waitrose, has struggled in recent years, posting a pre-tax loss of £501m in 2022.
A venture into the residential market is part of chief Sharon White plans to diversify the JLP business, with a target for 40 per cent of group profits to come from non-retail ventures by 2030.
JLP also has plans to build a similar scheme in Bromley, which has also faced pushback from locals.
John Lewis and Stop the Towers were contacted for comment.