AS the lease for the giant store which was previously home to John Lewis goes on the market, we look back at the public outcry that followed news of the department chain's closure. 

The move was so controversial, triggering a public petition to save the department store and calls from high-profile figures in the city and region, The Press covered the story with a live blog throughout the day of the announcement.

Further reports followed efforts to protect the 209 jobs at the store, as well as nostalgia pieces reflecting back on the huge queues of people wanting to be among the first to get a glimpse inside the new store when it first opened.

York Press: Crowds queue ouside John Lewis at the opening of their new store at the opening of the Vangarde Shopping Park. Picture : Garry Atkinson.

Julian Sturdy, York Outer MP, contacted John Lewis to try and work with the department chain and ensure it wasn't 'a knee-jerk reaction'.

At the time, he said: "Soon the Community Stadium will be welcoming thousands of York City FC and York City Knights fans to the retail park each week as well as hundreds of families visiting the cinema and other leisure offerings within the complex, meaning John Lewis will have an incredible pool of potential custom to add to their already loyal shopper base.

York City has just recorded its largest crowd with 6,394 fans packed into the LNER Community Stadium for York’s 2-1 Vanarama National League North play-off eliminator victory over Chorley.

York Press:

York City striker Lenell John-Lewis celebrates his opener. Picture: Adam Davy

That figure set a new record attendance at the Monks Cross ground and was the biggest crowd seen at a City home match in 15 years.

Helen Simpson, who had just taken over as chair of York & North Yorkshire LEP, said at the time of the closure announcement: “This is hugely worrying news and yet another blow for retail in York.

"Our thoughts are with those people who have lost employment at this difficult time. John Lewis is so much more than just a store, it is an anchor tenant and a strong national brand that attracts other businesses.

"The LEP is working with City of York to attract investment and create new jobs and will ensure those affected can access the support available."

York MP Rachael Maskell urged the John Lewis Partnership to reconsider - to no avail.

"York suffers another blow with John Lewis Retail withdrawing from the Vangarde site," she tweeted. "I ask that they think again. We need anchor businesses to be supported by Government and for them in turn to support local businesses."

York Press: Andrew Digwood, centre, said York had potential to create more oppor-tunities in sectors like tech, specialist engineering and bio-science.

Andrew Digwood, centre, said York had potential to create more oppor-tunities in sectors like tech, specialist engineering and bio-science.

Andrew Digwood, then president of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said the news was a blow to staff and York - but a reminder that the city's economy should not be over reliant on retail and tourism to generate jobs and prosperity.

"We need to seize every opportunity to think boldly and creatively about how we can do that and provide space to nurture other business sectors which have found success in York.”

Andrew highlighted the potential in York to create more better-paid, higher productivity opportunities for people in sectors like tech (digital media and rail tech being two particular areas of strength), specialist engineering and bioscience - areas where we already have some great things going on in York that sometimes pass a bit below the radar.

"To support those sectors to grow and attract suitable inward investment to the city, we need to be prepared to be bold about embracing the right development opportunities and to celebrate and build on our heritage, not be constrained by it."