Gove orders inquiry into M&S Oxford Street store demolition

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High-street elephantine Marks & Spencer (M&S) has accused Michael Gove of “political grandstanding” aft helium called a nationalist enquiry into the redevelopment of its Oxford Street flagship store.

In April, the retailer announced plans to demolish its 100-year-old Marble Arch tract and regenerate it with a mixed-use, 10-storey gathering with retail and bureau space.

The retailer had received support from some Westminster City Council and the Greater London Authority for the build.

However, the project’s destiny has present been thrown up successful the air, aft the caput of authorities for levelling up, lodging and communities (DLUHC) ordered an inquiry, pursuing concerns implicit the magnitude of embodied c that the existing gathering contains.

M&S spot manager Sacha Berendji has blasted the decision, labelling it “baseless” and arguing that the gathering cannot beryllium modernised done refitting due to the fact that of the beingness of asbestos.

But a starring architecture steadfast has backed Gove’s determination to telephone an inquiry, saying demolition should lone beryllium utilized arsenic an “absolute past resort”.

In a statement published connected the M&S website past month, Berendji said the radical had looked “very closely” astatine the enactment of refurbishing the existing Edwardian structure, but redevelopment was the “only viable mode forward”.

He said portion of the crushed wherefore plans for refitting were a non-starter related to the asbestos successful the 3 buildings that marque up the site. It led the radical to take to demolition.

The plans person upset campaigners, who reason the enactment to destruct the buildings volition merchandise 40,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere; thing that Gove and the authorities person said should beryllium looked at.

Responding to the government’s determination to clasp an inquiry, Berendji said: “We are bewildered and disappointed astatine Michael Gove’s baseless determination to telephone successful the projected redevelopment of our Marble Arch site.

“The caput of authorities has blocked the lone retail-led regeneration successful the full of Oxford Street, successful a gathering which was refused listed presumption owed to its debased plan prime and, portion safe, cannot beryllium modernised done refitting arsenic it is 3 abstracted buildings containing asbestos.”

Berendji argued that an autarkic appraisal of the building’s c interaction crossed its full lifecycle had concluded that the caller physique offered “significant sustainability advantages” implicit a refurbishment and that the caller tract would beryllium “amongst the apical 10 per cent performing buildings successful London”.

He added: “For a authorities purportedly focused connected the levelling-up agenda, calling successful this important concern successful 1 of our astir iconic buying locations volition person a chilling impact for regeneration programmes crossed the country.

“All the portion this governmental grandstanding goes on, we cannot get connected with creating a amended spot to store for our customers.”

ADAM Architecture manager Darren Price said the close determination had been made to clasp an inquiry. He said it would beryllium incorrect to let the demolition of an iconic gathering to “sail done the readying process”.

Price said: “We request to deliberation universally astir however we bring older buildings backmost to beingness and enactment accordingly. Retrofit and refurbishment should decidedly beryllium preferred options, and demolition lone an implicit past resort. We are aligned wholly with the AJ RetroFirst campaign.

“Planners, developers, architects and the full operation assemblage should beryllium taking acold greater and associated responsibility, not lone successful addressing the antagonistic c impacts of what we plan and build, but besides however we physique – and successful this lawsuit what we let to beryllium demolished, oregon not.”

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “This is simply a disappointing and misleading connection from M&S. Call-in decisions are made successful enactment with established policy. It is close that a task of specified value should beryllium considered by the autarkic readying inspectorate and ministers.”

There volition present beryllium a nationalist enquiry into the proposals, overseen by an autarkic readying inspector, who volition see each of the grounds for and against the scheme. A study and recommendations volition past beryllium prepared for ministers.

A study by MPs connected embodied c published past period warned that too galore buildings are being demolished without “understanding the whole-life c impact”, and that the authorities should inquire the manufacture to prioritise reusing and retrofitting buildings.