John Lewis has been given the green light to convert almost half of its flagship Oxford Street department store into office space amid turmoil for the UK’s retail sector.
Westminster City Council last night granted the high street store conditional planning permission to transform three to eight floors into dual-use space.
The local authority voted unanimously to approve the application, saying “exceptional circumstances exist to justify the loss of retail floorspace in the instance”.
Under the proposals there will be a maximum of 28,135sqm of office space and a minimum of 34,919sqm of retail space.
John Lewis is also planning to convert some of its property into housing under proposals set out by new boss Sharon White.
The partnership has identified 20 sites above or next door to a current Waitrose store that could be transformed into housing.
It is already seeking planning permission on two properties in Greater London, White confirmed this month as she unveiled a two-year plan to return to profit.
The partnership is targeting profit of £400m within five years.
Last month it posted a pre-tax loss of £635m loss in the first six months of 2020 and scrapped its employee bonus for the first time since 1948.
In July the retailer announced it would not reopen eight branches – including its Birmingham Bullring department store – after the UK coronavirus lockdown, putting around 1,300 jobs at risk.