John Lewis store at Birmingham Grand Central to be replaced by offices and foodhall

CGI of Drum, a project to transform the former John Lewis store in Birmingham into a new office-led, mixed-use building Credit: Hammerson

The former John Lewis store at Birmingham Grand Central is to be turned into a new mixed-use development with offices, a gym, food market, bar and restaurant.

The four-storey Hammerson site will be rebranded as 'Drum' and is being redesigned by Ken Shuttleworth, the city architect behind The Cube at the back of the Mailbox.

The department store originally cost £35 million to build.

But John Lewis was open for just 234 weeks at a cost of £150,000 per week equivalent and was the last place in Birmingham city centre where you could buy everything from cosmetics to fashions, white goods, TVs and computers.

The news comes just days after Marks and Spencer announced its new store inside Birmingham’s Bullring will open in Autumn later this year.

The 65,000 sq ft M&S site will replace the former Debenhams store which has been empty since May 2021. The move is part of a £480m investment by the company to build 20 ‘bigger, better’ stores across the UK.

CGI of the inside of the Drum Credit: Hammerson

The new name of Drum not only reflects the shape of the building, but is also a neat nod to The Crown pub across the road where a 1968 blues band called Earth became global heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath.

John Lewis originally opened along with the rest of Grand Central on September 24, 2015. But after closing for the start of the first lockdown on March 23, 2020 it has been mothballed ever since.

Former John Lewis MD turned West Midlands Mayor Andy Street called the site a 'brilliant opportunity' and said it was "inexplicable" why his former employer had closed it down given that it had the best location in the country "which is why we took it on in the first place".

The principal future use of the 260,000 sq ft site would be as offices - which will now account for 200,000 square feet of space. Today's announcement with CGI images also illustrates how the entire building will be reimagined in a whole new way.

As well as a rooftop garden with green walls on each level, there will be 40,000 square feet of ground-floor space allocated for a restaurant, bar and food market. Other amenities will include a grocery store, gym, wellbeing space and events area, as well as a cycle hub with changing rooms.

Work has already begun on the site Credit: BPM Media

Hammerson estimated that 14,000 tonnes of CO2 would be saved by trying to use as much of the original structure as possible.

Harry Badham, chief development and asset repositioning officer, said the designs for the old John Lewis store were inspired by the '15-minute city' concept whereby residents have everything they need within a short walk or other modes of transport.

The site has laid dormant since closing for the start of the first lockdown in 2020. Credit: BPM Media

Architect Ken Shuttleworth, a founding partner of Make which designed The Cube as well as HSBC UK on Broad Street, added: "We've been creatively considering how we rethink big box retail within city centres to ensure we can enliven these key spaces and draw people back into the workplace by prioritising wellbeing and dynamism.

"We've applied this here so the design for Drum goes beyond a traditional workspace in every sense."

The project could be completed in time for the 10th anniversary of the site if planning permission is granted and work begins this year.

As well as Grand Central, Hammerson also owns the Bullring and Rotunda and is behind plans to redevelop the Corporation Street to Moor Street Queensway area currently dominated by the Square into a future scheme called Martineau Galleries which could take until the end of the 2030s to complete.