Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southsea Knight & Lee store: Hotel and cinema plan approved for former John Lewis outlet

Knight & Lee store Image copyright EPR Architects
Image caption An artist's impression of the planned development

A former John Lewis store is to be converted into a cinema, hotel and rooftop bar after councillors approved development plans.

The Knight & Lee department store in Southsea, Hampshire, shut on 13 July after trading for more than 150 years.

The premises were the first to be closed by John Lewis since 2006.

Portsmouth City Council member Lee Hunt said he hoped the development would be a "cultural and creative anchor" for the area.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The John Lewis partnership closed its Knight & Lee store in July

The 1950s-built store in Palmerston Road was one of only two John Lewis outlets in the UK to retain its original name.

Developer THAT Group will build a fourth storey housing a bar and gymnasium, above a 43-bedroom hotel, a cinema, offices and other outlets.

Council deputy leader Steve Pitt said: "This building could've been micro-flats - developed into tiny little rabbit hutch rooms - and there would've been nothing we could have done to prevent that."

Councillor Lee Hunt said: "We need to sustain retailing nowadays. That is the way forward for our shopping centres - imaginative creative and cultural anchors. This looks like it is going to achieve it."

The development was unanimously approved by members of the council's planning committee.

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