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John Lewis Snubs Local Group In E-Commerce Depot Plans [Updated: Waitrose Agree To Change Plans]

Waitrose & Partners (John Lewis & Partners), Ecclesall Road, Sheffield
Waitrose & Partners (John Lewis & Partners), Ecclesall Road, Sheffield

The Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust requested to work with Waitrose parent company John Lewis as they expand their E-Commerce depot, but were rejected.

Update 16/4: John Lewis/Waitrose agree to change their plans

It has been announced that John Lewis & Partners will track back on controversial plans to exclude consideration for working with local groups as part of the development of their E-Commerce depot at Waitrose.

A significant number of objections were raised on the original planning application, which has seemingly prompted the reversal decision.

Whilst full details are still to be confirmed, the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust state new plans should include “retaining the existing greenery, creating a small public space weith seating to look down onto the river and hopefully improvements to the channel itself to help wildlife”

The initial statement from the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust follows:

“Following the overwhelming public objections against Waitrose’s proposals to remove the trees & hedges from Cemetery Road and to fence off access to the Porter Brook, they have now agreed to change their plans.

“Details are still to be confirmed but this will include retaining the existing greenery, creating a small public space with seating to look down onto the river, and hopefully improvements to the channel itself to help wildlife.

“We still need to work with Waitrose on the details and for the planning application to be formally changed but we owe a massive thank you to our supporters & members of the public who have been opposing the previous destructive plans!”Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust

Original article follows:

John Lewis Partnership expanding E-Commerce depot at Waitrose

Following the announcement that John Lewis are planning to close their Sheffield store, leading to the loss of up to 299 jobs, the company have submitted new plans to expand an E-Commerce depot at the Ecclesall Road Waitrose store.

The depot, just off Cemetery Road, would see the loading area for numerous delivery vans expanded to take in the land up to a small riverway to the rear of the Baan Thai restaurant.

John Lewis Partnership's Plans to expand E-Commerce Depot at Waitrose
John Lewis Partnership’s Plans to expand E-Commerce Depot at Waitrose (trees in yellow would be removed)

Here, the Porter Brook runs for a short distance, having being culverted at either end to accommodate the adjacent roadways and the Waitrose car park, prompting the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust to request to work with the supermarket owners to help expose the river and make the area more attractive and open.

John Lewis Partnership snub the Trust’s requests

The Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust had submitted alternative plans to the company, which would open up a small triangle section of land next to the river for the likes of accessibility and and benches.

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The Trust’s amended plans would complement adjacent proposals for the improvement of part of Cemetery Road as part of Sheffield City Council’s ‘Connecting Sheffield’ scheme, whilst also still allowing Waitrose to significantly expand their E-Commerce depot.

Proposed Amendments to Waitrose's E-Commerce Depot Plans.
Proposed Amendments to Waitrose’s E-Commerce Depot Plans. Image: The Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust

However, the John Lewis Partnership — via Waitrose’s Customer Services — have responded to reject the Trust’s plans, leading to the Trust launching a campaign for people to object to Waitrose’s current plans.

“Slap in Sheffield’s Face”

In a statement to supporters, the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust describe John Lewis’s attitude to the amended proposals as “remote and patronising”, and the company of being “tone deaf to local sentiment”.

“In the light of the recent devastating announcement that the JLP Department Store in Sheffield will close for good, the function of the proposed ‘E-Commerce Depot’ on Cemetery Road becomes rather more clear. This is effectively the click and deliver replacement for that store in Sheffield!

“One would have thought that JLP would have seized any opportunity to offer some small shred of a good news story to the huge slap in Sheffield’s face that the store closure represents. Instead they continue to be tone deaf to local sentiment and offers of partnership.

“We would hope that JLP/Waitrose might now reconsider this remote and patronising position before this proposal goes before the Planning Committee.”Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust

The Trust have now started campaigning for people to formally object to the plans and have even created a guide on how to effectively object to planning applications.

You can view and object to the unamended plans at Sheffield City Council’s website.

John Lewis Partnership Statement to the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust

“The Partnership are impressed and supportive of the approach in which the group are taking in the re invigoration of the Porter Brook.

The works to the Cemetery Road end of the site will see the visual and audible connection to the Brook improved. The close boarded fencing will be replaced with an open mesh system which will allow for air movement, better visual connection through and security. This in effect will allow visual connection from the street through our site to the Brook. The best view of the Brook is from Cemetery Road, which is outside our demise, however, the fencing will improve natural lighting to the Culvert.”Waitrose (John Lewis Partnership) response to the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust

Statement from the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust

“Believing that Waitrose and its parent company John Lewis are supportive of both the natural environment and partnership, the Sheaf and Porter Trust therefore approached the company requesting that as part of the redevelopment of this site they undertake some restoration of the river and replace the fence with an attractive low safety railing to allow better public access and visibility.

“We are offering to work in partnership with Waitrose to look after the restored river as part of our campaign to restore it as a habitat and for public enjoyment, as other businesses and the Council are doing at nearby sites on the Porter, most notably at Sylvester St and Matilda St.

“We also pointed out that by good fortune the Council are proposing to improve Cemetery Road at this point as a walking and cycling route and public space under their Connecting Sheffield programme and that the small triangle of land between Cemetery Rd and the river could become an attractive space to sit and enjoy the improved river.​​​”

“Sadly Waitrose Customer Service have responded to the Trust’s offer with what is effectively a flat ‘no’. The triangle of land between the river and road, although of little operational value, will be enclosed behind two lines of ugly mesh security barrier, established trees and shrubs removed and no improvement to the river is even considered.

“Further offers by the Trust to work with the store to improve and celebrate the Porter trail through their site and improve light penetration to their culvert are also largely dismissed other than the offer of a token plaque.​​​​

“However by way of a pat on the head, they have awarded the Trust a ticket for their monthly raffle.

“In the light of the recent devastating announcement that the JLP Department Store in Sheffield will close for good, the function of the proposed ‘E-Commerce Depot’ on Cemetery Rd becomes rather more clear. This is effectively the click and deliver replacement for that store in Sheffield!

“One would have thought that JLP would have seized any opportunity to offer some small shred of a good news story to the huge slap in Sheffield’s face that the store closure represents. Instead they continue to be tone deaf to local sentiment and offers of partnership.

“We would hope that JLP/Waitrose might now reconsider this remote and patronising position before this proposal goes before the Planning Committee.”The Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust

View and object to the unamended plans at Sheffield City Council’s website.

Hidden River Tours

As part of the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust’s work to promote, reinvigorate and uncover parts of hidden rivers in the city they occasionally conduct incredible tours along the rivers and through culverts.

Secret Tunnels under Sheffield Train Station, leading to The Megatron river culvert system
Secret Tunnels under Sheffield Train Station, leading to The Megatron river culvert system

Going beneath Sheffield Train Station and onto the infamous Megatron storm drain, the tours are one of the city’s must-do events.

Unfortunately the tours are suspended at the current time due to the pandemic, but you can sign up to the Trust’s newsletter on their website for updates of when they will become available again.

In the meantime, you can take a look at The Sheffield Guide’s video of Secret Tunnels, Hidden Rivers and the Megatron, which features the tour with the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust.

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Founder and editor of The Sheffield Guide. A lifelong Sheffielder with a local pride that lovingly crafts each and every piece created. Discover the very best of the Steel City with The Sheffield Guide.

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