M&S demolition plans rejected by Westminster City Council

Marks & Spencer’s plans to demolish its Marble Arch flagship store have been rejected by housing and levelling up secretary Michael Gove.

The decision comes after critics had hit out at the retailer for its initial plans due to concerns over the environmental impact of demolishing and replacing older buildings.

Westminster City Council’s Cabinet member for planning and economic development counsellor Geoff Barraclough said the M&S project had “significant implications for the environment so it was right the case should be tested robustly.

“The Council’s position is to encourage landowners to refurbish buildings, not demolish them.”

“Clearly this is a disappointing day for M&S but we hope they return with a revised scheme which meets the new tests presented by the climate emergency,” he added.

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M&S’ plans were rejected over as the projects carbon footprint and its failure to reuse resources existing buildings for conversion.

But the retailer contested this: “Any heritage harms will be significantly outweighed by the benefits” Russel Harris KC, representing M&S, told the inquiry.

It comes after developers Mace Construct called on the government to amend the planning process to encourage the retrofitting commercial buildings before considering demolition.

Commenting on the decision, M&S CEO Stuart Machin said: “The suggestion that the decision is on the grounds of sustainability is nonsensical.”

“With retrofit not an option – despite us reviewing sixteen different options – our proposed building would have ranked in the top 1% of the entire city’s most sustainable buildings.”

“It would have used less than a quarter of the energy of the existing structure, reduced water consumption by over half, and delivered a carbon payback within 11 years of construction.”

“It is also completely at odds with the inquiry process where the analysis on sustainability, including from independent experts Arup, was accepted.”

“We have been clear from the outset that there is no other viable scheme – so, after almost a century at Marble Arch, M&S is now left with no choice but to review its future position on Oxford Street on the whim of one man. It is utterly pathetic”

Climate crisisNature and the environmentNewsPropertyRetail

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