JOHN Lewis in Basingstoke is likely to be converted into rental homes as the department store chain announced plans to move into the property market.

The chain announced today (Sunday) that it wanted to address the national housing shortage and support local communities by building 10,000 homes for rental over the next few years.

John Lewis has revealed that the first homes are planned for south-east England, which means the massive Basingstoke property could be one of the potential locations for its initial phase.

The Eastrop roundabout site, supported by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council, only opened in 2015 and was purpose-built to encompass the John Lewis at home brand alongside a Waitrose superstore.

At 46,000sq ft, the building was described as a ‘partnership powerhouse’ and included a large café and restaurant, a wine bar, a juice bar, a bakery as well as ample parking and facilities for staff.

The Sunday Times, which first reported the story of John Lewis’ property project, has revealed all housing developments would come with a concierge service and would feature a Waitrose convenience store near the entrance.

The company has also revealed some homes could be built in department store car parks, above Waitrose supermarkets or next to distribution centres.

The Basingstoke property already has a Waitrose in the building.

According to the report, 7,000 of the initial 10,000 homes would be on sites in its existing property portfolio ranging from studio flats to houses.

Earlier this year, John Lewis identified its Basingstoke branch, one of the town's flagship stores, as one of eight that were proposed for closure following the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm confirmed last week that the Basingstoke store will close down permanently.

The Gazette understands 93 jobs were at risk because of the closure, although the chain has pledged to support its employees.

Staff affected by the closure will have access to a support programme which assists with CV writing and interview skills, whilst those with two or more years of service will have access to a retraining fund, which will contribute up to £3,000 towards a qualification.

Partners who have worked with the business for more than a year would be entitled to Partnership redundancy pay, which equates to two weeks’ pay for every year of service, regardless of age.

Those with less than one year’s service who leave on grounds of redundancy would receive an ex-gratia tax-free payment equivalent to one week’s contractual pay.