Plans to demolish the M&S flagship store on Oxford Street are being looked into by the Mayor of London following a backlash about the plans. M&S wants to demolish the 1930s store that’s at the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street and replace it with a smaller store and more office space, and their application was approved by Westminster Council last November.

M&S Oxford Street (c) Google Street View

The building could still be saved as the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport is considering a request to grant the building a listing status as a heritage asset based on a report from Historic England.

The M&S store is actually made up of three separate buildings that were joined internally to make one shop. The Edwardian classic frontage, Orchard House on the corner, a 1980s red brick building, Neale House, and around the side, a last 1960s era building on Orchard Street. It’s presumed that the application to list the building would only apply to the two newer sections, and so a redevelopment would still be possible behind a retained facade for the 1930s corner building.

That would however still raise protests about the environmental impact of demolishing a building behind the facade to replace it with another building.

That’s where the Mayor of London comes in, and the Mayor’s office is also looking at the development and whether it complies with the recently updated policies (pdf) about whole-life cycle carbon in developments.

The Mayor’s office has now confirmed that they will review the decision by Westminster Council in light of the carbon impact study.

“The initial assessment of the plans by City Hall thoroughly considered the issue of carbon emissions. This found that the carbon saving of the refurbishment of the existing building would be countered by its poor energy efficiency, and the refurbished buildings would have a larger total carbon footprint than a new build.” a Mayor of London spokesperson said.

The intervention of the Mayor’s office followed an outcry that critical reports about the climate impact of the redevelopment by the architect and GLA climate adviser Simon Sturgis had not been considered by the GLA.

“Following its initial report, City Hall has since published new guidance on carbon emissions and officials are considering an updated report to include further analysis of the carbon emissions of the proposed demolition.” the Mayor’s spokesperson added.

The decision to redevelop the M&S site follows on from previous department store changes, with the former Debenhams store being redeveloped into a mix of shops and offices, and the same happening to the House of Fraser store, which could also see House of Fraser move out of Oxford Street entirely.

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2 comments
  1. Chris Rogers says:

    It’s genuinely odd that so much fuss is being made about this one scheme. A few miles east (to name just one comparison) vast swathes of the City are repeatedly demolished for new buildings and no-one raises an eyelid there. Very strange.

    • ianVisits says:

      A major planning decision in the City was recently refused for the same reason this one is being reconsidered – the total carbon footprint of the development, and it’s likely that this will, quite understandably, become an increasing factor in the future in a way that it wasn’t in the past.

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