Marks and Spencer’s Art Deco store in Oxford Street to be torn down


LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 20: The Marks & Spencer store on Oxford Street on July 20, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Marks & Spencer are expected to cut 950 jobs due to the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic and Lockdown. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Three buildings make up the Marks and Spencer’s flagship store (Picture: Getty Images)

Marks and Spencer’s flagship store in London is set to be demolished in a decision slammed as ‘cultural vandalism’.

The Art Deco building, known as Orchard House, dates back to the 1930s.

But M&S has plans for a shiny new 10-storey store complete with offices, a selection of small shops, a new pedestrian arcade and even some luxury flats.

However, it hasn’t been plain sailing for Sparks as critics are pleading for them to consider the environmental impact of flattening the building close to Marble Arch in central London.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan had the chance to shut down the proposals, but he waved the plans through to Westminster City Council.

His review followed a report by Simon Sturgis of Save Britain’s Heritage.

Mr Sturgis told ‘M&S pride themselves on Plan A – their sustainability strategy. But this completely contradicts what they are trying to achieve.

The revamp has angered campaign groups, including Save Britain’s Heritage (Picture: Getty)

‘Whatever they focus on, they will make money there. There are similar issues all around London and the UK, people are proposing to knock down perfectly good buildings.

‘I think he [Sadiq Khan] has made a real mistake. He declared a climate emergency, but this is in opposition to those promises.’

Westminster City Council were already poised to grant planning permission last year, subject to agreeing wider community benefits with the developers.

Now, the only person who could possibly save Orchard House from demolition is communities secretary Michael Gove.

There has been furore online over Mr Khan’s decision not to intervene and halt the demolition.

A spokesman for the Mayor said there were no grounds for him to intervene (Picture: Getty Images)
Only an intervention by Michael Gove will stop the plans (Picture: M&S)

Academic Adrian Hilton wrote online: ‘Approval has been granted for this handsome 1930s Art Deco gem on Oxford Street to be demolished and replaced this monstrous 1970s multi-storey car-park-looking thing.’

And British historian Professor Susanna Lipscomb tweeted at Mr Khan to simply put: ‘This is cultural vandalism.’

According to the Daily Mail, 90% of the new M&S building will be created from materials from the old building.

An M&S spokesperson said: ‘Marble Arch has served our customers well but it has no capacity for further development, limiting the experience we can offer.

‘We are continuing to make progress on our plans to invest in the area for the long term by establishing a new, vibrant M&S store fit for modern retail, along with best in class sustainable office space. We will keep the local community updated as our plans progress.’

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told ‘The Mayor can only intervene in council planning decisions where the proposed scheme does not conform with the London Plan.  

‘After a thorough assessment of this proposal, including the total carbon footprint involved, it was determined that grounds did not exist to allow the Mayor to intervene. It will therefore remain with Westminster City Council to determine the application.’

The London Plan sets out a framework for how London will develop over the next 20-25 years.

It focuses on cleaning up the capital’s toxic air, greening its streets, reducing waste and tackling climate change.

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