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Low cost supermarket Lidl to take over Liverpool's historic Lewis's Building

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Liverpool’s historic Lewis’s Building is to become home to a major new Lidl low-cost supermarket.

The building, opposite the Adelphi hotel, was one of the city’s landmark stores.

But having been empty for several years, it is now in line for a makeover by the budget grocers chain.

It wants to create around 30 new jobs, and is the latest firm following the trend for opening up big superstores in the city centre rather than on out-of-town retail parks.

Tesco has two huge outlets in Clayton Square and Hanover Street, and Morrisons is planning to move into Church Street.

The ground floor of the Lewis’s Building, on Ranelagh Street, will be taken up by the German company, but much of the rest of it is still being developed as part of the Central Village apartments complex.

City heritage campaigners said they hoped that the shop - with its recognisable yellow and blue colour scheme - would be sympathetic to the nineteenth century former department store’s architecture.

Lidl insisted it knew the building was “close to many people’s hearts” and said it would tailor its fit-out to be in keeping.

The bottom floor was the food court for many years while Lewis’s was open in its original guise.

Jonathan Brown, a member of the Merseyside Civic Society, said: “It’s got to be respected that this is a listed building, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t tone it down.

“It’s an iconic building that is always going to be known as Lewis’s, whatever goes in there, so the designers need to respect its history.”

Mr Brown added the fact that Lidl was moving into the city centre was an encouraging sign that more and more people were living in town, and saved green belt from being built on.

More than 22,00 people now live in the centre of Liverpool, with more than 1,000 moving in last year. The 6% population hike is the sharpest increase anywhere on Merseyside.

Much of the Lewis’s building is due to become apartments. Planning permission for the project was given in 2009.

A spokesman for Lidl said: “Over the last year, we have been working with Merepark, the developer of the former Lewis’ building.

“We are very excited about the possibility of bringing our range of products to the heart of the city and being a partner in this hugely important regeneration of a building treasured by many.

“We have liaised extensively with the local planning authority, conservation officers and conservation specialists. We have also employed NJSR, an architectural practice well versed in the redevelopment of listed historic buildings, to develop the plans.

“Our design brief has been to bring the building back to its former glory and we are delighted to be able to say that restoration works have already been undertaken by the developer including the repair and cleaning of the internal fluted stone clad columns and the refurbishment of the original ceiling to the ground floor.

“Our design is sensitive to the needs of the building providing a carefully considered, bespoke solution for this unique setting and we hope to be welcoming the people of Liverpool back into this landmark building very soon.”

This story courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.

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