M&S is doubling down on its plans to demolish its flagship Marble Arch store, as its CEO describes a trip to Oxford St as “dismaying.”
The supermarket is embroiled in a battle with heritage campaigners over plans to raze its Art Deco store in the West End.
M&S says the store has “asbestos throughout,” and wants to create a new 10-storey building, with office spaces.
A public inquiry, which will examine the plan’s contribution to local heritage, sustainability and potential to improve the shopping destination, is scheduled to take place on 25 October.
The scheme will promote circular economy principles, meaning 95 per cent of the existing building materials will be recovered, recycled or reused.
M&S said it would create a new pocket park that includes extra seating and trees for the West End.
Oxford St has recently suffered from the closure of household names and received criticism for a slew of US-themed candy stores that have been accused of tax dodging.
M&S CEO Stuart Machin tweeted on Saturday to say he found a recent visit to the shopping heartland “dismaying.”
“Something must be done to save our famous street,” he added, pointing to further details about the retailer’s plans for its site.
Sacha Berendji, M&S group operations director, said: “Our proposed development at our Marble Arch site is the culmination of two years’ work with Westminster City Council, the GLA and the local business and resident community, which have supported the development at every stage.”
Campaigners from SAVE Britain’s Heritage plan to argue that the building can be retro-fitted rather than completely razed.
Architects – including London Eye designer Julia Barfield and Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud – had called for a public inquiry into the proposals, citing environmental concerns.
“In contrast to the slow release of carbon from existing buildings, these emissions would be released immediately because of the vast quantity of raw materials required such as steel and concrete,” SAVE Britain’s Heritage stated.
Developers were also accused of attempting to destroy “an elegant and important interwar building.”