Today, a public investigation has begun to determine whether Marks & Spencer can demolish and rebuild its flagship store on Oxford Street in London.
The retail giant says his store, along with others on Oxford Street, needs a business failure and a makeover.
However, heritage and environmental activists believe that the remediation would produce too much carbon and damage the heritage of the early 20th century.
Led by the charity SAVE Britain’s Heritage, challengers say the demolition and reconstruction of the three buildings on the site would emit 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the equivalent of traveling 99 million miles, farther than the distance from the sun.
They argue that M&S should instead modify the buildings, the earliest of which was built in 1930, which they say would also avoid damage to the adjacent listed Selfridges building.
Marks & Spencer says its store, along with others on Oxford Street, needs to fail economically and rejuvenate
However, Selfridges has publicly supported the bailout, saying it would improve its business rather than harm it.
M&S said it would have to abandon the site if its plans were rejected, and that the carbon dioxide emissions released during demolition and construction would be offset by the new store’s energy efficiency.
Russell K. C. Harris, who represented Marks & Spencer in the public inquiry led by Michael Gove into the secretary’s promotion, said the retrofit would not be enough to reverse the deal’s plight and Oxford Street would suffer if the company left the company.
He said: “The fact that the existing business has failed is aided and exacerbated by the fact that the western end of Oxford Street is also on the decline.
This decline is clear and noticeable. Go off, smells like, a tangible, unmistakable expression of regression.
“Without Marks & Spencer in this location, and they will leave if the bid fails, the decline of this area from the center will accelerate dramatically.
“This finding, another drop, is inconsistent with the demand that investing in Oxford Street should cement the West End’s position as a globally competitive retail destination.”
M&S’ plans for its central London store are heard in a public investigation by Michael Gove when he rose to the cabinet position
He also said that an application to list the oldest building, the Orchard House, had been rejected and that the new building would be “one of the most sustainable buildings in the entire capital”.
SAVE representative Matthew Fraser said demolishing the early 20th century building would result in a loss of cultural heritage and CO2 emissions levels consistent with the need to meet the Paris Agreement, and a 2°C global temperature limitation was incompatible.
He said: “Such large carbon costs could have been avoided and could have been avoided if Marks & Spencer had seriously and creatively considered the option of renovating buildings.
“The comprehensive renovation of the buildings would increase the operational energy efficiency of the buildings, avoid significant carbon emissions from demolitions and reconstruction, achieve desired improvements in the provision of high-quality retail and office space, and avoid the adverse effects of the proposed legacy of the proposed new building plan.”
Planning permission to demolish the buildings has been granted by Westminster City Council (WCC), which supports the redevelopment, saying that it will “occur and enhance the historic setting” and result in a “significantly improved streetscape”.
Marks & Spencer flagship store on Oxford Street when it opened in 1964
Aside from revitalizing the shop’s commercial value, M&S says the redevelopment will also provide public benefits such as “a new, high-quality driveway that restores a traditional path, a new pocket park at Granville Place, and wider, safer footpaths along Oxford Street and Orchard Street”.
However, SAVE said these goals could be achieved through retrofit and criticized the WCC and the Mayor of London for misappropriating their sustainability policies by backing plans and missing the opportunity to show what can be achieved.
Mr. Fraser said: “Despite claiming that sustainability is at the heart of its brand and commitment to being a zero-sum company by 2040, M&S has rejected the creative recovery alternative so much that it is threatening the Secretary of State about leaving Orchard House altogether if they don’t get what they want.
“This is not the constructive position of a retailer committed to the sustainability, heritage preservation and future prosperity of Oxford Street.”
Charlie Baxter, a property developer in central London, added: “I have often had to make difficult decisions about what is best for the environment and what is best for profit.
“In light of the climate catastrophe, we need to reconsider our reckless attitude towards buildings.
“The carbon emissions emitted today have a greater impact than those emitted in the future because today’s emissions are in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming for a longer period.
It is time for the government and the World Council of Churches to urge developers to make choices that benefit the environment. The public has had enough.”
The hearing, which is expected to last two weeks, will continue.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11353337/Goves-public-inquiry-Marks-Spencer-rebuild-Oxford-Street-store-begins.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Gove General Inquiry It all started with whether Marks & Spencer could rebuild his shop on Oxford Street