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In an update to partners, John Lewis has indicated that they are seeking to convert some former stores which they no longer need into affordable housing.

Last week, Advantage wrote that a UK think tank has suggested that vacant retail units “should be converted into 800,000 new homes.” Clearly the idea of giving unused shops a whole new lease of life as affordable homes also appealed to John Lewis, with the company stating: “As we repurpose and potentially reduce our shop estate, we want to put excess space to good social use.”

The John Lewis partnership, which includes Waitrose, has seen the move from high-street shopping to digital accelerate during the coronavirus outbreak and Sharon White, their chairperson, stated: “We expect John Lewis to be a 60% online retailer, from 40% pre-Covid-19; and Waitrose to rise above 20%, from 5%.”

Advantage took a look at White’s statement (which you can read in full here) which reveals that:

“We are exploring with third parties the concept of new mixed-use affordable housing.”

In addition to branching out into housing, the firm also outlines plans for: Rental/Resale/Recycling saying:

“This is a growing priority for our customers. Options include creating a market leading channel for rental of our products or building a marketplace to sell ‘used’ products.”

John LewisThe government’s new planning rules, which will cut out the red tape when converting retail spaces into residential units, (which we gave our view on in this recent blog) would make converting the stores that John Lewis has decided to close into affordable housing more straightforward than under former planning regulations.

John Lewis is planning to close eight stores. The BBC covered the news of the brand’s plans to branch into housing with the headline: “Your chance to live in a John Lewis store…sort of.”

They added that: A spokeswoman for John Lewis & Partners said it was too early to give details on how excess store space will be used for private and affordable housing. She said there will be a further update in the autumn.

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